Call for expression of interest for conducting Needs Assessment for Cooperative Development

Terms of Reference

Needs Assessment for Cooperative Development

1. Background

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is implementing the Public Private Development Partnership for Renewable Energy Skills Training and Women’s Economic Empowerment Project (PPDP) in Somalia since November 2018. This project seeks to address two complementary challenges to Somalia’s development: (1) barriers to women’s full economic empowerment and (2) lack of access to affordable, renewably sourced energy.

The strategy for the Women’s Economic Empowerment component is to create a vibrant market dynamic where both financial and non-financial business service providers are able to develop and offer demand-driven gender responsive entrepreneurship support that enables growth-oriented women entrepreneurs to manage the growth of their businesses, enhance their productivity, and scale the contributions of their businesses to socioeconomic growth.

Within this context, the project aims to support the development and establishment of cooperatives by women entrepreneurs and organizations/platforms that advocate for the interests of women entrepreneurs. A number of these will be established and supported through the project. The project also aims to develop the capacity of Business Development Service Providers (BDSPs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) will support the adaptation of training materials for business development support services, train growth-oriented women entrepreneurs and support their associations and cooperatives.

2. The cooperative advantage

Cooperatives have existed in Somalia formally since the cooperative law was put in place in 1973 during Siad Barre’s regime[1]. In the same year, the Somalia Union Cooperative Movement (UDHIS)[2] was created in order to give voice to the needs to cooperatives in the country. It comprises of six union cooperatives and aims to advocate for the interests of the movement, promote cooperative movements and mobilize resources to support cooperatives. The six cooperative unions under the movement cover the fields of agriculture, fisheries, livestock forestry and incense, industries and handicrafts, consumer and service, and transportation and construction.

Given the history of cooperatives in Somalia and the project’s special focus on the agricultural sector where cooperatives can play a key role, there is strong potential to support the growth of cooperatives to promote growth-oriented women entrepreneurs.

Box 1: Defining Cooperatives

A cooperative is defined by the International Co-operative Alliance and the International Labour Organization as “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.”

Source: The ILO Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation, 2002 (No. 193)

ILO research on gender equality in cooperatives indicates that these member-based enterprises have an increasingly positive impact on women and on their inclusion in economic activity and the labour force. The findings also suggest that cooperatives enhance their capacity to empower women by co-operating with civil society and gaining government recognition.[3] The cooperative model offers women, particularly but not exclusively those in rural areas, in the informal economy and on low incomes, important opportunities for employment, enhanced livelihoods and access to productive resources and services. [4]

The ILO views cooperatives as important in playing a key role in helping producers and enterprises higher-up or further down the chain to address value chain requirements by, among others, facilitating and leveraging market linkages for small scale entrepreneurs and producers, and improving their bargaining power and access to market information.[5] The cooperative advantage in supply chains lies in the dual nature of the cooperative enterprise which is both i) an association in the sense that it is a group of people who acknowledge the similarity of some of their needs, and ii) a business whose particular aim responds exactly to the needs to be fulfilled (which despite its “social” objective implies certain economic objectives) Moreover, members of cooperative enterprises are both recipients of the benefits of the collective business and also the owners. The social interaction among members resulting from the specific features of cooperatives plays an important role in the performance of the enterprises, including in value chain coordination.[6] Besides, the one member, one vote rule enables members to get empowered and to be given a voice within the supply chain. Through this democratic organization, small producers increase capacities to lobby towards the other actors (e.g. governments, buyers) and to balance trade policy development that have an adverse effect on them.

3. Scope of the assignment

Under the supervision of the ILO’s Country Office for Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Djibouti and in close collaboration with ILO’s Cooperatives Unit and Small and Medium Enterprises Unit, the consultant is expected to conduct a needs assessment of cooperative enterprises and other similar producers organizations as well as cooperative support organizations (i.e. business development service providers catering for cooperatives) operating in Puntland and Benadir regions and focused on the agricultural and renewable energy sector.

The main objective of the assessment is to understand the current situation of cooperatives and other similar organizations in the region, particularly their capacities, strengths, weaknesses and needs and their potential for women entrepreneurs.

Specific tasks to be covered by this study include:

  • Review existing relevant literature on cooperatives in Somalia, and provide a brief overview of the state of cooperatives in the country but in particular Puntland and Benadir regions, highlighting specific challenges ;
  • Map all relevant stakeholders, in particular cooperatives and similar self-help organizations operating in the targeted sectors in the targeted areas;
  • Identify relevant cooperative support organizations (i.e. cooperative business development service providers, training institutes, NGOs etc.)
  • Prepare standard interview questionnaires for relevant organizations and other necessary tools (e.g. for focus group discussions with producers)
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of cooperatives in terms of leadership, membership, infrastructure, participation in the markets, and their economic viability as well as how gender-responsive these cooperatives are, the labour division between men and women in those cooperatives (incl. presence of women in leadership positions)
  • Provide an assessment of the challenges and opportunities for upgrading the position of cooperatives and other farmers groups in the vegetable value chain ;
  • Identify and discuss concrete opportunities for cooperative development for producers with a special focus on women producers;
  • Identify and analyse skills gaps and specific training needs for cooperatives, other producers’ organizations, and cooperative support organizations. This will include a review of ILO tools such as Think.Coop, MyCoop, Start.Coop[7] to assess their relevance;
  • Produce a needs assessment report based on the above objectives which includes but not limited to desk review, stakeholders mappings, analysis of challenges and opportunities for cooperative development in Puntland and Benadir regions, and recommendations for improving the performance of cooperatives and to guide future ILO’s interventions in related value chains.

4. Methodology

The methodology to be followed by the consultant will include the following components:

  1. A desk review of relevant documents related to the selected value chains and cooperative development in the target region in particular and in Somalia in general.
  2. Semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions with relevant stakeholders such as cooperative enterprises and organizations (incl. financial and producers’ cooperatives), government representatives , cooperative support organizations (incl. cooperative unions such as National Union of Agriculture Cooperatives, Union of the Fisheries Cooperatives Movement, Union of the Livestock, Forestry and Incense Cooperatives Movement, Union of the Industries and handcrafts Cooperatives Movement, Union of the Consumer and Service Cooperative Movement, Union of the Transportation and Construction Cooperative Movement, NGOs providing support to cooperatives or farmers groups), identified cooperatives in Puntland and Benadir regions and social partners, among others. Interviews will include relevant support organizations providing assistance to women’s groups. The main objective of the interviews will be to gather in-depth information, including perceptions, views and factual information on the current situation and potential for cooperative development and the integration of youth in existing cooperatives (as members of employees).

5. Outputs

The final output expected from the consultant is a needs assessment report of a maximum of 40 pages in English.

Specific deliverables expected from the consultant include the following:



Time required

Inception report / work plan

This document should include detailed work plan with information on the stakeholders to be interviewed;

Specific research questions;

interview and FGD guide / questionnaire;

Initial bibliography for the literature review;

2 days

Draft needs assessment report

The report should include:

Literature review;

Assessment of cooperatives and their strengths, weaknesses and needs in relation to management, governance, marketing etc.;

Mapping of relevant cooperative support organizations (incl. the ones operating in the targeted regions and value chain);

Recommendations on the way forward;

Complete list of interviews;


Annexes on the organizations and people interviewed; interview questionnaires; list of stakeholders identified during the mapping exercise

15 days (including field visits)

Final report

Revised report based on the comments to the draft report

5 days

6. Qualifications

The required qualifications are listed below which apply to both individual consultants as well as organizations who seek to apply:

  • University degree in social sciences or other relevant subjects
  • 5+ years of research experience
  • Knowledge and experience in working in Somalia
  • Specific knowledge on participatory research methods
  • Experience in cooperative development and agricultural development
  • Good facilitation, presentation and analytical skills, as well as ability to elaborate high quality research documents
  • Language skills: fluency in English and knowledge of the Somali is an advantage.
  • Familiarity with ICT tools that can be used for regular data collection

How to apply

In response to this ToR, the ILO expects to receive the following from qualified consultants or organizations:

  1. Brief description of the interest and understanding of the assignment (max 5 pages)
  2. Statement of availability with a detailed schedule activities
  3. CV of the person(s) who will be carrying out this research
  4. Financial Proposal

The required documents should be submitted in Word format to by March 31st, 2020.

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