Request for Proposal – AECF Innovation Lab Lead Independent Short-Term Contractor-June 2022

Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund

  1. About AECF

The AECF is a leading development finance organization that supports businesses to innovate, create jobs and leverage investments to build resilience and sustainable incomes for rural and marginalized communities in Africa. AECF’s s goal is to bridge the investment gap between early-stage enterprise and business maturity for entrepreneurs serving the poorest communities.

The AECF provides patient capital to new and innovative business models in the agribusiness and renewable energy sectors across Sub-Saharan Africa through various financing instruments, which include grants, zero-interest loans, guarantees, and working capital facilities. AECF’s financing products are supplemented by technical and investment advisory services.

AECF has successfully implemented programs across 26 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), supporting over 343 enterprises, raising US$ 392 million in funding for programs, leveraging over $750 million in additional capital and impacting 28 million lives.

We are looking for an entrepreneurial and experienced Innovations Lab lead to support emerging areas of our work towards the implementation of our strategy.

  1. About the Innovation Lab and the Role

The AECF is in the first year of the 2021-2025 refreshed strategy, The Building of Resilience. To operationalize the strategy, we are seeking to catalyze innovations that accelerate Africa’s path to universal access to energy and have designed a new initiative, The Innovation Lab, to facilitate this.

The Innovation Lab is an ambitious initiative of the AECF that aims to stimulate the development and growth of innovations in clean energy access. The Innovation Lab will support the private sector to deploy and scale new or innovative products and services that will address the most pressing energy access problems in sub-Saharan Africa. It will support entrepreneurs or enterprises with new products yet to be introduced to the market but beyond the prototyping stage, and those already in the market but have undergone or undergoing transformational design changes.

The initiative consolidates the position of the AECF as the organization that surfaces new and innovative businesses that deploy innovative technologies and business models that are able to address sub-Saharan Africa’s energy and climate challenges.

We are looking for a person with a growth mindset, innate curiosity and a commitment to private sector-led solutions for Africa’s clean growth to fill the role of an Innovation and Change Specialist. The person will be responsible for leading the establishment and operationalization of AECF’s Innovation Lab in addition to supporting new and strategic initiatives to further grow the Lab.

  1. Key Responsibilities
  • Refine and iterate the innovation lab strategy to achieve outcomes in building and validating business models with scalable innovations.
  • Develop and manage an end-to-end cycle of an acceleration and support programme that will enable participants to confirm their innovation’s product-market fit
  • Responsible for the onboarding and day to day operations of workshops, virtual sessions and other capacity building sessions
  • Define and implement tailored curricula and learning journeys for the portfolio of innovations
  • Directly work with selected innovators/entrepreneurs/businesses to support their performance and growth.
  • Collaborate with the Enterprise Development and the Renewable Energy teams, develop a network of coaches and mentors to provide support to innovators.
  • Network and build effective linkages with relevant stakeholders in the clean energy ecosystem, including donors, incubators, and accelerators.
  1. Deliverables

The consultant is expected to lead, accomplish, and submit the following deliverables within the agreed timeframe and budget.

  1. Build innovation lab business support structures. A clear and developed curriculum defining the business support and engagement structure to use for all contracted parties. This will include
  • Refinement of the innovation lab offerings
    • Development of milestone-based capacity-building plan for each investee in the innovation funding cohort
  • Development of ToRs for any needed specialized support for drafted for partners
  • Innovation Lab budget and forecasts
  1. Coordination and delivery of one-to-one business coaching and mentoring of the investees,
  2. Establish the newly proposed innovation services; identify, negotiate, and onboard a broad group of partners who can provide complementary capabilities across the identified development paths.

The success of this resource will be demonstrated by ensuring innovations are supported during the fund, but that these innovations can obtain further funding, access larger markets and demonstrate direct benefits to beneficiaries following graduation from the fund.

  1. Key qualifications, experience and competencies
  • Master’s degree in business, renewable energy or related field.
  • A minimum of seven (7) years experience in business incubation and acceleration, management consulting, or equivalent.
  • Evidence of support to innovators, the introduction of innovation/innovative practices as an innovation manager or equivalent.
  • Exposure to a range of business incubation models, especially in developing countries and emerging markets and knowledge about international best practices.
  • A good understanding of energy and climate-related issues in sub-Sahara Africa, with an appreciation of the technical aspects of the energy and climate technology space.
  • Practical experience working with business enterprises and providing training and capacity-building services.
  • A leader and team player characterized by strong analytical skills, sharp critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities, with a good display of broad, exploratory, and structured thinking.
  • Effective project management abilities.
  • Tenacity to develop ideas independently and thrive in a fast-paced environment.
  • Ability to interact with a broad set of businesses and stakeholders at the highest levels.
  • High personal standards for the quality of execution with a strong sense of ownership and accountability.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication in English, and fluency in French would be an added advantage.
  1. Duration of the service

The task should not take more than 100 days spread between July 2022 to June 2023.

  1. Proposal submission

Interested and qualified (individual or institutional) consultants are invited to submit their proposal(s) comprising the following:

  • An understanding of the consultancy requirements.
  • Methodology and work plan for performing the assignment.
  • Detailed reference list indicating the scope and magnitude of similar assignments.
  • Relevant services undertaken in the past five (5) years.
  • Letters of signed references from previous companies/assignments
  • Registration and other relevant statutory documents (this applies to Institutional consultants).
  • The financial proposal clearly showing the budgeted cost for the work to be conducted by the consultant under the scope of work above.
  • The Financial and technical proposal Must be submitted separately
  1. 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 proposalEvaluation Criteria

  1. Evaluation criteria

An evaluation committee will be formed by the AECF which will include employees. All members will be bound by the same standards of confidentiality. Bidders should ensure that they fully respond to all criteria to be comprehensively evaluated. In deciding the final selection of qualified bidder, the technical quality of the proposal will be given a weighting of 70% based on the evaluation criteria below. Only the financial proposal of those bidders who qualify technically will be reviewed. The financial proposal will be allocated a weighting of 30% and the proposals will be ranked in terms of total pointsscored.

Evaluation Criteria


Understanding of the Terms of Reference


Methodology and work – plan for performing the assignment

Demonstrated capacity to deliver the task(s) within a realistic timeline, based on the consultancy days designated per task.


Demonstration of years of experience in similar work


Detailed reference list indicating the scope and magnitude of similar assignments,

Signed Letters of reference from past customers or associates to the lead consultant or the consulting organization.


Financial proposal; clarity, relevance, reality to market of value/ value for money of cost for the assignment (inclusive of any applicable tax).




  1. 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.

How to apply

  1. Application

AECF invites qualified consultants/firms to send a proposal to [email protected], clearly marked “ CONSULTANCY SERVICES INNOVATION LAB LEAD’’ to be received no later than 4th July by 5.00 pm East Africa Time (GMT +3) addressed to: The AECF, Procurement Department. All clarifications and or questions should be sent to [email protected]

by 23rd June 2022 and feedback will be shared by 27th June 2022.

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