Request for Proposal – Terms of reference for documenting gender adoption in energy access in private sector companies – Somaliland – September 2023

1. About AECF

AECF (Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund) transforms lives by providing investment funding and technical assistance to commercially viable businesses that improve the lives of rural communities. It mobilizes donor funding to support early and growth-stage businesses in agriculture and renewable and clean energy sectors, with a focus on improving incomes and employment for rural and marginalized groups. It is a non-profit organization, with its headquarters in Nairobi and operational centers in Somalia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Côte d’Ivoire.

Since our launch in 2008 at the World Economic Forum, AECF has built the resilience of rural and marginalized communities by catalyzing innovative private sector business models with patient capital and growth support services across Sub-Saharan Africa.

2. Energy and Adaptation to Climate Change (REACT SSA) programme.

REACT SSA is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and implemented by AECF since 2017 targeting eight countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe). The program aims at facilitating market development for renewable energy and climate technologies by supporting the private sector in mitigating market barriers through matching grants and technical assistance (TA). As at December 2022, the program had reached 84 companies (about 14% women-owned) 306,592 households, created 2,254 jobs and avoided 521,075 (TCO2E). The program focuses on five investment portfolios (solar home systems/PAYG; micro-grids; clean cooking; micro-energy, asset financing and carbon markets; and productive uses of energy and irrigation pumps).

3. Rationale for this consultancy

AECF has over the past years invested significantly in its REACT initiative, which supports the private sector to promote greater access to renewable energy technologies among rural communities, including women. In 2018, AECF conducted a gender study to identify the extent to which the AECF portfolio in REACT effectively includes women. The gender analysis found that without AECF’s firm emphasis on gender reporting by the investees, it is likely that the renewable energy programme would otherwise remain completely gender-blind in its execution.  Women’s roles are limited to more support-based and less empowering back-office roles compared to men who hold potentially empowering roles.

The gender study recommended major shifts in the understanding of the need to include women in energy planning, technologies, and renewable energy value chains. This included considering the whole-of-the investment cycle gender capacity strengthening for renewable enterprises to particularly ensure gender awareness and mainstreaming. The study further recommended provision of comprehensive and simplified gender reference document replete with key performance indicators for gender monitoring, for use by REACT investees. Women mentoring and coaching were recommended to address gender gaps in STEM and energy sectors. Routine collection of gender disaggregated data on beneficiary access and use of renewable energy products would boost knowledge and learning in the program. The study also recommended Policy Dialogues to influence its partners towards giving greater programmatic attention to the enablers of women’s economic empowerment.

Based on these recommendations and other learnings, AECF has made progress to address some of the challenges established both at the institutional and investee level. Some of these interventions include the launch of a Gender Lens Investing (GLI) strategy in 2018, review of the portfolio manual to include gender integration monitoring, review of reporting frameworks to include capturing disaggregated data on project socio-economic impact of the portfolio to men and women. Other interventions have included policy advocacy at national levels, launch of women mentorship programs and offering technical assistance with capacity building tools. This exercise hence provides an opportunity to review the progress made on women integration in the renewable energy sector under the REACT program.

4. Purpose of the assignment

The purpose of this assignment is to share the program’s narrative of gender transformation and demonstrate its influence on individuals in rural and marginalized communities. This will be accomplished through the creation of digital stories in the form of compelling videos, photos, and text within the investment portfolio. The aim is to effectively portray the significant accomplishments made by two Companies in the portfolio one from Somaliland respectively. Highlight the obstacles faced in integrating gender perspectives, extract valuable lessons learned, provide recommendations from the company involved, and capture captivating digital narratives that capture the essence of the investment portfolio. This assignment contributes to the expanding knowledge base of GLI (Gender Leadership and Innovation) and offers practical suggestions for leadership and resource mobilization.

Scope of Work

This assignment will shed light on the role of women in accessing energy in Somaliland. Despite facing unique challenges, women have been actively involved in efforts to increase energy access in the country. By examining their experiences, contributions, and the barriers they have overcome, we aim to highlight the importance of gender inclusion in the context of energy access and showcase the transformative impact it has on women within fragile context.

To achieve the envisaged objective, the consultant under the overall supervision of AECF will:

  • Conduct an in-depth literature review of recent AECF reports, gender analysis reports, and documentation related to the selected companies in focus.
  • Develop data collection tools to address any information gaps identified during the literature review.
  • Conduct field visits to the selected companies to validate the data gathered from the literature review, prepare success or failure stories, and analyze the relevant information and develop compelling digital stories for the companies.
  • Prepare a draft publication featuring the assessment findings and the digital stories using a mix of text, visuals, and multimedia content.
  • Conduct validation meeting with respective companies to ensure the draft publication reflects the company’s experiences and perspectives.
  • Develop a set of practical recommendations and guidelines for integrating gender considerations in REACT SSA Programming in similar contexts.
  • Prepare a final comprehensive publication that incorporates the validated findings, company stories, achievements, lessons learned, recommendations, and conclusions.
  • Prepare a comprehensive presentation for disseminating the assessment findings, recommendations and the process undertaken to the company, AECF and another stakeholders/partner.

5. Specific Deliverables and Expected output.

The consultant will deliver to AECF:

Deliverable Description Deadline
Inception Report Submit an inception report that demonstrates understanding of the assignment, proposed methodology, and detailed work plan for the assessment and digital story development. 2nd October 2023
Approved data collection tools/assessment framework Data collection tools, digital stories phototype anticipated and assessment framework to gather relevant information within the selected four companies for the study, approved by AECF 9th October, 2023
Field Reports Field reports that summarize the findings, including data analysis, key insights, preliminary findings. 30th October, 2023
Draft Publication Prepare a draft publication featuring the assessment findings and the digital stories using a mix of text, visuals, and multimedia content. 13th Nov, 2023
Validation Report Edit and refine the one story for each company based on feedback from the companies and stakeholders. 24thth Nov, 2023
Final Publication in the form of digital stories Incorporate feedback and finalize compelling digital stories that can be hosted online in the form of videos, photos and text highlighting the impact of gender inclusion initiatives within each company. 30th Nov, 2023
REACT SSA Program Recommendations Summarize the key findings and offer practical actionable steps and guidelines to AECF on integrating gender considerations in fragile contexts.


4th Dec, 2023
Presentation Deliver a comprehensive presentation of the assessment findings and recommendations 8th Dec, 2023

NB: The dates will be adjusted based on the actual contracting date.


6. Duration

The assignment will be conducted within a period of three months from the date of signing the contract.

7. Reporting

The consultant will report to the AECF Gender team.

8. Qualifications and experience

The consultant /firm should have.

  • At least 5 years of writing experience in digital story writing in a creative way for diverse audience.
  • A consultancy firm with a team of experts in technical writing, storytelling, photography, and copy editing.
  • Professional experience in investigative and human impact story writing, preferably in the field of renewable energy, gender, and development.
  • Experience and deep understanding of gender lens investing principles, strategies, and best practices and be knowledgeable about the intersection of gender and renewable energy.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, with the ability to convey complex concepts in a compelling and engaging manner.
  • Possess strong research and analytical skills to gather relevant information, conduct interviews, and extract meaningful insights from data. They should be able to identify key milestones, challenges, and lessons learned from the selected company.
  • A comprehensive understanding of gender issues, particularly in rural and marginalized communities with familiarity with the gender dynamics, challenges, and opportunities within these contexts.
  • Ability to navigate diverse cultural contexts and effectively engage with businesses from different backgrounds. Given the diverse communities and contexts involved, the consultant should possess cultural sensitivity and the ability to work with people from different backgrounds. This will facilitate effective communication, collaboration, and understanding of local perspectives.
  • Strong understanding of renewable energy technologies, policies, and programs, particularly in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa. Familiarity with the current trends, challenges, and opportunities in the renewable energy sector and the on communities and their potential to address gender inequalities.
  • Prior experience in documenting similar stories or working on gender-focused initiatives. This demonstrates their ability to handle the complexities of the assignment and deliver high-quality results.
  • Ability to manage timelines, prioritize tasks and ensure deliverables are met within the agreed scope.

9. Evaluation criteria

An evaluation committee will be formed by AECF which will include employees. All members will be bound by the same standards of confidentiality. Applicants should ensure that they fully respond to all criteria to be comprehensively evaluated. In deciding the final selection of qualified applicant, the technical quality of the proposal will be given a weighting of 80% based on the evaluation criteria below. Only the financial proposal of those applicants who qualify technically will be reviewed. The financial proposal will be allocated a weighting of 20% and the proposals will be ranked in terms of total points scored.


An understanding of the terms of reference
   1. Demonstrate understanding of the assignment and expected outcomes. 10
   2. Demonstrated understanding of developing digital stories 10
Methodology and work plan that will deliver the best value on the assignment  
  1. Soundness and feasibility of the proposed technical approach and methodology that provide comprehensive findings and analysis to document company stories, achievements, lessons learned, recommendations, and conclusions. 20
 2. Realistic and well-structured timeline, clear identification of deliverables and milestones, and coherence with the intended programme goals. 10
Qualification and Experience  
  1. Qualification and experience of the consultant/team and evidence of relevant certification  


 2. Demonstrated experience and relevant services are undertaken by the applicant in past engagements with evidence links to previous work done / completion certificate 10
 3. All the required registration and certification document   and at least 3 signed reference letters of similar work done. 10
B.     FINANCIAL PROPOSAL: Detailed showing level of effort of the team, Clarity, relevance, and reality to market value/ value for money of cost for the assignment (inclusive of any applicable tax, reimbursable, and travel where applicable). 20
Total Score 100

10. Proposal Submission

Interested companies/individuals must submit the following documents/information to demonstrate their qualifications:

  • Technical and Financial proposals should be submitted as separate documents.
  • Sample of past work: applicants are requested to submit a sample of three previous projects or links to the projects to demonstrate the experiences required by this Terms of Reference
  • As per the requirements in the Evaluation Criteria

11. Pricing

AECF is obliged by the Kenyan tax authorities to withhold taxes on service contract fees as well as ensure VAT, at 16%, is charged where applicable. Applicants are advised to ensure that they have a clear understanding of their tax position with regards to provisions of Kenya tax legislation when developing their proposals.

12.  Application

The AECF is an Equal Opportunity Employer. The AECF considers all interested candidates based on merit without regard to race, gender, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, disability, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law.

  • Interested consultancy are requested to submit their technical and financial proposal to by 29th September,2023, 5pm (EAT).
  • All questions should be directed to the procurement email by 21st September 2023
  • The subject of the email should be Consultancy for documenting Gender Adoption in Energy Access in private companies-SOMALILAND. The AECF shall not be liable for not opening proposals that are submitted with a different subject or responding to questions that did not meet the deadline as indicated

13.  Disclaimer

AECF reserves the right to determine the structure of the process, number of short-listed participants, the right to withdraw from the proposal process, the right to change this timetable at any time without notice and reserves the right to withdraw this tender at any time, without prior notice and without liability to compensate and/or reimburse any party.

NB: The AECF does not charge an application fee for participation in the tender process and has not appointed any agents or intermediaries to facilitate applications. Applicants are advised to reach out directly to the AECF PROCUREMENT DEPARTMENT. 

About AECF

AECF (Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund) is a leading non-profit development organisation that supports innovative enterprises in the agribusiness and renewable energy sectors with the aim of reducing rural poverty, promoting resilient communities, and creating jobs.

We catalyze the private sector by surfacing and commercializing new ideas, business models and technologies designed to increase agricultural productivity, improve farmer incomes, expand clean energy access, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve resilience to the effects of climate change. We finance high-risk businesses that struggle to access commercial funding; we are committed to working in frontier markets, fragile contexts, and high-risk economies where few mainstream financing institutions dare to go.

To date, we have supported over 400  businesses in 26 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, impacted more than 30 million lives, created over 27,000 direct jobs, and leveraged US $771 million in matching funds.