Tunisia: Study on Responsible Pricing for Microfinance

Country: Tunisia
Language: EN
Number: 656211
Publication date: 13-03-2017
Source: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
Tags: Legal advisory services

Description

Country:

Tunisia

Business sector:

Financial institutions

Project number:

68427

Funding source:

ECMS00 - SEMED MSME Fund

Contract type:

Consultancy Services

Notice type:

Invitation for expressions of interest (CSU)

Issue date:

13 Mar 2017

Closing date:

03 Apr 2017 at 23:59 London

Access eSelection

Project Description:

The Tunisian authorities have expressed interest in EBRD support to engage a microfinance expert (the “Consultant”) to conduct an in-depth mapping of the interests and perspectives of stakeholders concerned with microfinance pricing in Tunisia; provide pertinent examples of best international practices around interest rate pricing; and produce a set of recommendations for the attention of the Study Committee on Microfinance convened by the Tunisian government (the “Assignment”).

In August 2016, the Ministry of Finance issued a bylaw relating to consumer protection in the microfinance sector. It requires MFIs to adopt “responsible pricing where the terms and conditions are determined in a manner that is affordable for customers, which reflects the actual expenditure necessary for the granting of such credits, including the cost of funds, management and training costs, and other operating costs.” The bylaw deems abusive any pricing that is “not linked to the effective and reasonable cost of offering services.” A further bylaw is expected to set the methodology for calculating the microfinance interest rate caps, as well as establishing their levels. A Study Committee has been set up to discuss the preparation of this bylaw, with representatives from the Central Bank of Tunisia, the Ministry of Finance and the Microfinance Control Authority (ACM).

The two driving principles for approaching this regulation are (1) providing responsible pricing and (2) ensuring the sustainable development of the sector. How these two objectives can be aligned while improving financial inclusion through an efficient, thriving microfinance sector is the central question of this assignment.

Assignment Description: EBRD now intends to engage a consultant to provide a set of specific, actionable recommendations to Tunisian authorities for the regulation of responsible pricing of microfinance operations with the dual aims of consumer protection and viability of microfinance institutions (MFIs), based on best international practices relevant to the Tunisian context, which can be referred to the Study Committee in its subsequent work on the topic).

The selected Consultant is expected to provide the following services:

1. Gain a robust understanding of the Tunisian microfinance landscape through desktop research and interviews, in particular the economic, social and political dynamics surrounding the issue of the interest rate cap

· Review the current legal and regulatory framework underpinning microfinance.

· Review the approach and methodology for the existing interest rate cap calculation for financial institutions, including the current debate around its reform.

· Examine all available research on the topic, including studies on financial inclusion in Tunisia, financial statements of MFIs, etc.

· Meet with the key government, MFIs, and other stakeholders to understand how a microfinance interest rate cap would impact them, including an analysis of business models, required profitability level, drivers of profitability, access to refinancing and cost of funding, products offered, prevailing interest rates, financial performance, etc.

· Identify market gaps in the provision of microfinance in Tunisia to both individuals and MSMEs.

2. Draw parallels with relevant experience in comparable microfinance markets

· Present examples of best international practices in microfinance directly pertinent to the Tunisian case (e.g., the Middle East, Europe, Turkey, Latin America) which, if applied in Tunisia, should lead to a thriving microfinance sector.

· Present examples where regulating interest rate caps has in fact had an effect (positive and/or negative) on the microfinance sector and/or had unintended consequences that may be relevant to the Tunisian context.

· Present interest rate levels in countries where there is no interest rate cap, by category of product.

· Present the level of profitability of the successful MFIs in countries where there is no interest rate cap.

3. Formulate recommendations for a responsible, sustainable microfinance sector in Tunisia, and propose a technical approach through which an interest rate cap could be responsibly implemented

· Offer recommendations for approaching the interest rate cap, taking into consideration market structure, regulatory framework, the impact of subsidies, lending restrictions, financial services offer beyond loans, etc. over the short and long term, within the economic, institutional and political context in Tunisia.

· For each recommendation, provide a set of different options with associated pros and cons

· Produce a detailed set of technical parameters to be used for determining an interest rate cap for microfinance with a view to sustainability over time.

· Address adequately the concerns of responsible lending, accountability and competitiveness.

Additional tasks may be required for successful implementation of the Assignment.

Status of Selection Process: Interested individual consultants or individuals engaged by a firm are hereby invited to submit expressions of interest.

Assignment Duration: The Assignment is expected to start in Q2 2017 and has an estimated overall duration of 6 months.

Maximum Cost Estimate for the Assignment: EUR 70,000 (exclusive of VAT).

The Consultant must determine whether any VAT would be chargeable on the services and the basis for that determination, without taking into consideration the special status of the Bank as an IFI and state this to the Bank in their response to the Invitation for Expressions of Interest. To the extent that a Consultant incurs input VAT on goods and services purchased in connection with the provision of services (e.g. VAT on airline ticket) which is not otherwise recoverable by the consultant from the local tax authority, the gross cost to the consultant of such expenses shall be treated as a reimbursable expense.

Funding Source: It is anticipated that the contract will be financed by the EU SEMED Financial Inclusion Programme. Selection and contracting is subject to the availability of funding.

Eligibility: There are no eligibility restrictions.

Consultant Profile: Individual services are required. The Consultant shall be an expert (individual expert or an expert nominated by a firm).

The Consultant should demonstrate compliance with the following key requirements:

· Significant experience (preferably over 10 years) in the microfinance sector and/or a relevant regulatory agency;

· Solid project management and/or advisory experience (preferably at least 5 years) working on similar assignments;

· Excellent communication, analytical, report writing and presentation skills;

· Previous experience in Tunisia, North Africa, or the wider Middle East will be considered a distinct advantage;

· Fluency in written and spoken French and English is essential. Submissions from consultants who are not fluent in both of these languages shall be rejected.


Submission Requirements:
In order to determine the capability and experience of Consultants seeking to be selected, the information submitted should include the following:


a) Cover letter (max. 2 pages) summarising why the expert believes to satisfy the requirements as defined in the above section Consultant Profile.


b) CV (not exceeding 4 pages) detailing qualifications, professional and academic background, full descriptions of responsibilities carried out on similar assignments (not just job title), particularly assignments undertaken in the previous five years. The CV should include information on contracting entity/client, project location/country, duration (mm/yy to mm/yy), expert months provided, assignment budget, main activities, objectives.


c) Completed Consultant Declaration Form and Contact Sheet, the template for which is available from the following web-link:

http://www.ebrd.com/pages/workingwithus/procurement/notices/csu/contact_sheet.doc.


The expression of interest shall not exceed 10 pages (excluding CVs, Consultant Declaration and Contact Sheet).


The complete expression of interest (including CVs, Contact Sheet, Declaration Form) are to be submitted in English electronically through e-Selection, to reach the Bank not later than the Closing Date. The expression of interest shall be one file (pdf). The EBRD reserves the right to reject applications of firms submitting more than one file. Only if the permissible file size is exceeded (4MB), the Consultant may split the expression of interest into further files.


The EBRD Contact Person:

Ms Olesya Kerridge

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

One Exchange Square

London EC2A 2JN

Tel: + 44 20 7338 6895

Fax: +44 20 7338 7451

E-mail: kerridgo@ebrd.com


Important Notes:

1. The selection will normally be made from responses to this notification only. Consultants will not be asked to submit a technical or financial proposal as part of this expression of interest. The highest ranked Consultant will be selected from a shortlist and invited to negotiate the contract, subject to availability of funding.

2. Consulting firms (proposing individuals) and individuals may apply. Consulting firms nominating an individual expert shall submit one complete individual application for each expert. Single applications for a number of experts containing various CVs may result in rejection of such application and all concerned experts.

3. The shortlist criteria and weightings are as follows:

a) The Consultant’s previous experience in the microfinance sector and/or a relevant regulatory agency – 40%;

b) Consultant’s previous project management and/or advisory experience working on policy-oriented assignments – 40%;

c) Relevant regional experience – 20%.

4. Proficiency in French and English will be assessed through an interview of the shortlisted candidates.