Access to Finance Specialists

Terms of Reference
Access to Finance

Location: Home Based and Hanoi and Son La Province Vietnam.
Assignment duration: 12-month contract
Days: 60 days (approximately)
Start date: April 2019
Deadline to apply: 1 April 2019


With more than 30 years of experience, CowaterSogema is Canada’s global leader in management consulting services specializing in international development. We have managed the implementation of over 800 projects in more than 80 countries around the globe for clients such as DFID, DFAT Australia, the World Bank and Global Affairs Canada. We work with governments, partner organizations, communities and civil society to design and implement sustainable solutions that generate lasting social, economic and environmental impacts. Our adaptive approach to management has led to our award-winning work and recognition as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies in 2017 and 2018.


CowaterSogema is seeking to recruit a highly qualified Access to Finance organisation to support the Aus4Equality|Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism (GREAT) Program.

The GREAT Program is a flagship initiative of the Australian aid program in Vietnam – it commenced in November 2017 and will run for five years (2017 to 2021). The Program seeks to promote women’s economic empowerment (WEE) in the ethnically diverse north-west region of Vietnam. The primary beneficiaries are women living in the provinces of Son La and Lao Cai, while an overarching emphasis is placed on the inclusion of women from ethnic minority communities as these provinces are home to twelve and twenty-six ethnic groups respectively.

The objectives of the Aus4Equality|GREAT Program are:

  • Objective 1 – Empowering local women: Women living in local communities have increased capacity, space and choices to beneficially engage with agriculture and tourism businesses.
  • Objective 2 – Inclusive businesses partnerships: Selected private sector actors within the agriculture and tourism sectors innovate to profitably and sustainably trade with more women entrepreneurs and operate in gender sensitive ways.
  • Objective 3 – Improving sector governance and policy: Government agencies reinforce policies, and enact plans, regulations and services that enable more inclusive socio-economic development.

Key approaches applied by the program include: Market system development (MSD), Partnership, Adaptive Management, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI), Women’s Economic Empowerment and Innovation. The program will partner with 50-80 partners to deliver results, including private sector actors, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and research institutions.

The program has two funding schemes, Scheme 1 is for non-business partners with grants up to 90% of project costs with Scheme 2 supporting companies with grants up to 49%.

In Son La, GREAT has signed partnership agreements with a range of agriculture companies across different sectors to implement inclusive business models that involve women in the company’s supply chain for the period March 2019 till September 2021. A number of these companies identified access to finance for smallholder farmers as a critical issue in order to expand their supply chain. In response to this need, the GREAT team and the Project Management Unit in Son La discussed with Son La based financial institutions on the potential to provide loans to farmers who do not meet collateral requirements from the bank through a guarantee mechanism. To date, none of the financial institutions are able to offer the desired service. A number of partners in the other target province, Lao Cai, are also interested in address access to finance issues.

To assist with initial scoping, GREAT engaged the services of a national and international consultant to provide initial advice. While exploring feasible solutions to improve the access to finance through formal financial services, GREAT has provided selected companies with an interim revolving fund to use as an advance for quality inputs supply to small holder farmers.


The appointed access to finance organisation will work closely with the GREAT team, the Project Management Unit’s in Son La and Lao Cai and targeted companies to design and implement feasible and sustainable solutions to address access to finance for smallholders involved in a number of supply chains with GREAT co-invested companies.

A staged overlapping approach is proposed to address access to finance issues within the Program that will include a pilot/preparatory stage and an implementation stage. This balances the need to begin implementation and having the time to address the root cause/s restricting farmers in the targeted company supply chains being able to access affordable finance.

TEAM Composition

It is envisaged at a minimum the team will include the following:

  • Access to finance specialist (international)
  • Access to finance specialist (national)


1. Identification of potential interested financial service providers and partners (beginning in April-May 2019)

  • A survey of intended beneficiaries per company supply chain to get a better understanding of the financing needs
  • Pre-qualify financial institutions and improve understanding of the operating environment
  • Identify interested social/impact investors
  • Prepare the business case.
  • Selection of financial institutions.
  • Draft key points on the agreements between GREAT and selected financial institution and between GREAT and social investors.
  • Cooperate actively with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) study into value chain finance that is being undertaken by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

2. Design the offering from GREAT to financial service providers (June-September 2019)

  • Design the package of technical and financial support from GREAT. The package could include:
  • Development of tailored smallholder (input) finance product.
  • Possible mechanisms to transfer GREAT revolving fund which is managed by the co-invested companies to financial services providers
  • Development of a portfolio of bankable smallholder farmers to be presented to the partner financial institution for internal loan approval processing.
  • Development of the broader business case for upscaling for the partner financial institution or other providers.
  • Advice on the most appropriate support from GREAT to help unlock finance and address systemic issues.
  • Development of a financial/loan disbursement and distribution mechanism.
  • Develop policy brief on lessons learnt.

Expected deliverables:

  • Report in English on financial needs of small holder producers
  • Proposal for technical and financial support from GREAT
  • Draft agreements with selected financial institutions
  • Policy brief on lessons learnt


  • Minimum 10 years’ experience in the financial services sector, including 5 years in SME lending
  • A track record of success in implementing successful access to finance models with small holder farmers
  • Experience with formal and informal finance and/or facilitating linkages between financial services and agri businesses and their supply chain.
  • A strong network of contacts in Vietnam and the region.
  • An understanding of the financial services sector in Vietnam.
  • Vietnam or regional experience.


Please submit your proposal to [email protected] by 5 pm (Hanoi time) 1 April 2019. The proposal should include:

  • Understanding of the operating environment in Vietnam (maximum 2 pages)
  • Proposed methodology (4-6 pages)
  • Company profile (maximum 2 pages)
  • CV’s of all team members (maximum 4 pages for each CV)
  • A budget inclusive of all expenses including travel costs and taxes. A daily rate should be specified for each team member and needs to comply with DFAT’s Aid Advisor Renumeration Framework.
Job Details
Organisation Name: 
Aus4Equality|GREAT Program
Hombased and Hanoi and Son La
Application Deadline: 
Mon, 2019-04-01