Calls for expressions of interest

AO 231274

Support to strengthen the competitiveness of the agri-food sector (with an emphasis on ACP horticultural sector) and compliance with the regulatory and private requirements of national, regional and international markets through training and technical assistance in the areas of business management, and sustainable commercial and social practices

Post date: 01/02/2023

Please complete the application form below:

Terms of Reference - CEI 231274

1. Title of contract

Support to strengthen the competitiveness of the agri-food sector (with an emphasis on ACP horticultural sector) and compliance with the regulatory and private requirements of national, regional and international markets through training and technical assistance in the areas of business management, and sustainable commercial and social practices.
Ref: COLEAD/AO/231274

2. Location

The necessary interventions may require travel within partner countries (with an emphasis on ACP countries). Depending on the case, the experts could be invited to visit the different COLEAD offices if necessary (Brussels, Rungis, Nairobi, etc.).

3. Main object (CPV code)

Agri-food sectors

4. General address of the contracting authority

5 rue de la Corderie
94586 RUNGIS Cedex

5. Publication of detailed Contract Notice

Internet address of the contracting authority:

6. Procedure

The publication of this Contract Notice launches the first phase of the procedure and is intended to allow candidates to express their interest in bidding. An initial evaluation based on an analysis of the expressions of interest will result in the establishment of a shortlist of candidates deemed suitable to submit tenders.

Stages of the procedure:
Phase 1

  1. Publication of the Contract Notice and submission by candidates of their expression of interest
  2. Establishment of the longlist
  3. Pre-selection based on the application file
  4. Establishment of the shortlist

Phase 2

  1. Launching of the call for tenders (sending of tender documents to short-listed candidates)
  2. Selection based on the files provided by those tendering
  3. Establishment of framework contracts with the selected tenderers

The service providers selected following the consultation will be offered a framework contract, specifying a maximum daily remuneration rate per proposed expert. This rate of remuneration may differ from the financial proposal made by the tenderer.

In general, the services of the successful tenderers may start from the day of the signature of the framework contract. The interventions of the successful tenderers may extend until the full consumption of the budget allocated.

7. Background information

COLEAD is a non-profit interprofessional association created in 1973. Its purpose is to facilitate and implement all actions allowing, directly and/or indirectly, to increase the contribution of the agricultural sector, and horticulture in particular, to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

From an operational perspective, COLEAD is organised into several departments corresponding to COLEAD’s internal areas of expertise: Technical Assistance, Training, Research and Innovation Brokerage, Market Insights, Information and Communication, Regulation and Standards, Access to Finance, and Networking and Alliances.

FFM SPS and FFM Plus programmes
Fit For Market SPS: Strengthening sanitary and phytosanitary systems of the ACP horticultural sector
In December 2018, the EC and COLEAD signed a four-year grant contract, “Fit For Market – Strengthening sanitary and phytosanitary systems of the ACP horticultural sector” (FFM SPS), with a total budget of EUR 15 million funded by the European Union (EU) and the Organisation of the ACP States (OACPS) through the 11th European Development Fund (EDF). It is part of the European support to medium and long-term policies aimed at strengthening productive capacities, stimulating innovation and improving the sustainability and competitiveness of the ACP private sector.

The overall objective of this programme is to contribute to poverty reduction, improve food security and safety, and ensure inclusive and sustainable growth by strengthening the ACP agri-food export sector. The specific objective of the programme is to ensure that small ACP producers, farmers’ groups and organisations and MSMEs have access to international and domestic fruit and vegetable markets within a sustainable framework, by helping them to take account of the requirements of these markets, particularly in terms of food safety.

The implementation of this programme aims to build capacity in horticultural safety and plant health both at the level of private sector actors (small producers, farmer groups and organisations, MSMEs, etc.) and at the level of the competent authorities. To this end, COLEAD assists programme beneficiaries in meeting (regulatory) market requirements, including those related to food safety. In addition, COLEAD studies the destination markets for ACP fruit and vegetables, in particular local and regional ACP markets, with a view to gaining a better understanding of their quality and quantity.

Fit For Market Plus: Mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by strengthening the sustainability of the ACP horticultural sector
In November 2021, the EC and COLEAD signed a five-year grant contract, “Fit For Market Plus: Mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by strengthening the sustainability of the ACP horticultural sector”, with a total budget of EUR 25 million financed by the 11th EDF.

Both FFM SPS and FFM+ are part of the intra-ACP cooperation programme between the EU and the Organisation of Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS), formerly ACP Group of States. It is part of European support for medium- and long-term policies aimed at strengthening productive capacities, stimulating innovation, and improving the sustainability and competitiveness of the ACP private sector.

The overall objective of FFM+ is to contribute to poverty reduction and improved food security and nutrition, by supporting the building of a fairer, safer and sustainable agri-food sector in member countries of the OACPS. Despite a disruptive landscape, the first specific objective is to support smallholders, farmer groups and MSMEs to maintain and improve access to national, regional, and international horticultural markets while adapting to changes in the operating environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Simultaneously, in a context of accelerated changes and paradigm shift, the second specific objective is to enable smallholders, farmer groups and MSMEs of the horticultural sector to seize new market opportunities through the development and adoption of safe and sustainable practices, skills and technologies.

The expected results of FFM SPS and FFM+ are complementary and integrated into an overall COLEAD implementation framework aimed at building and strengthening capacity at national and regional levels to ensure that effective and efficient national SPS systems are in place for the ACP horticultural industry.

Other programmes managed and implemented by COLEAD (at the time of launching this contract)
As part of the diversification of its funding sources, COLEAD is implementing other national or multinational programmes funded by different donors. Thus, in addition to the FFM Plus and FFM SPS programmes, COLEAD is also currently involved in the implementation of several technical assistance programmes in line with the association’s mission:

  • “Strengthening the Phytosanitary Control and Certification System in Guinea (STDF/PG/498) funded by the Standards and Trade Development Facility” (FANDC – STDF).
  • “NExT Kenya: Enhancing Kenyan Horticultural Export” (CRIS 414-898) funded by the EU aims to increase the contribution of the Kenyan horticultural sector to household incomes and improve food security, food safety and nutrition by strengthening the resilience, integration and sustainability of the country’s horticultural value chains.
  • “AGRINFO – Towards a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system: addressing compliance with EU regulatory and non-regulatory measures” (FOOD 2021/427-777), funded by the EC for a total budget of EUR 7 million. The AGRINFO programme focuses on identifying and monitoring EU policies, regulatory and non-regulatory measures, standards and market trends that have a potential impact on competitiveness, market access and trade dynamics on national, regional, international levels for agricultural operators in partner countries and in the EU.
  • “DEFIA: Support for the agro-ecological transition of the pineapple sector through the implementation of the Programme for the Development of Entrepreneurship in Agricultural Sectors” This programme, financed by ENABEL, aims to enable operators in the pineapple value chain in Benin to begin a gradual transition to agro-ecology, while meeting the requirements of local, regional and international markets.

The list of other programmes/projects is not exhaustive. Indeed, COLEAD is involved in the implementation of several national and regional technical assistance programmes/projects, in partnership with donors working towards inclusive and sustainable agri-food production and trade. Please refer to the COLEAD website to learn more about its interventions.

8. Market description

Type of contract
This contract concerns the provision of support services for the technical implementation of all ongoing and future COLEAD programmes.

All successful tenderers will be offered a framework contract, which will specify the names of the selected experts and the maximum daily fee per expert. In some cases, and following the evaluation of the proposed CVs, the fees mentioned in the contract may differ from the fees proposed in the tenderer’s financial offer.

The objective of this call for tender is to create a pool of experts with the required expertise, as described in “Type of activities”, who can be mobilised by the COLEAD technical team when needed. The services will therefore be requested on an as-needed basis and through ordering letters specifying the terms of the assignments.

As a result of the above-mentioned, it is important to note that in the context of this tender, although the signing of a framework contract is a prerequisite for working with COLEAD, this does not guarantee that all service providers will be invited to carry out an assignment.

Principles of intervention
In continuity with previous programmes, the intervention logic of COLEAD’s programmes is based on the expression of requests for support from MSMEs or producer groups in partner countries, but also from intermediate support structures – whether public or private – which are actively involved in supporting the development of value chains concerned (service providers, business membership organisations, training centres, inspection services, etc.). It also adopts the following modalities and principles of action that have contributed to their success:

  • Local ownership ;
  • No substitution of local stakeholders ;
  • Enabling informed decision making;
  • Investment in local expertise and human resources;
  • Pooling of problems / economies of scale/intra-inter regional approach favoured;
  • Demand-driven approach;
  • A participatory approach and cost sharing;
  • South-South cooperation;
  • Technical, scientific and financial partnerships to avoid duplication, optimise synergies and upscale impact;

COLEAD will preferentially involve service providers with consultants based in partner-countries1, with a specific emphasis on ACP countries, from which the beneficiaries of the programmes are requesting support, in order to ensure that the characteristics of the operators concerned and their environment are considered rapidly and effectively. This concern for the increasing involvement of local expertise is an integral part of COLEAD’s intervention logic.

Themes covered by the market
Subjects covered by this call for tenders are as follows:

  • Management and development of an organisation: Financial and accounting management, Financial, Commercial and operational risk management, Business development, business scenario planning, Business plan development, Access to finance, Human resources management, Marketing and communication (including digital), Information/data management, Decision support, commercial negotiations (litigation / claims handling), etc.
  • Sustainable business practices: Formalisation of links between operators in the value chain, Contracting, Governance and management of agricultural organisations, Fair/Ethical trade, Corporate social responsibility, etc.
  • Respect for people and professional development: Human rights, Working relations and conditions, Good business practices, Respect for the consumer, Governance and ethics, Social certifications, etc.
  • Information management: Implementation of information management systems, Implementation of database management systems, Decision Support System, etc.

Any other sub-theme, directly or indirectly related to the above-mentioned ones, that could limit the compliance of agri-food production in partner countries, with a particular emphasis on ACP countries with local, regional or international trade regulations and constraints and/or impact on the competitiveness of said agri-food operators is included in this contract.

Tenderers must demonstrate sufficient skills and experience, in at least one of the topics covered by this contract, to enable them to carry out any missions that may be entrusted to them.

Beneficiaries / target groups
The beneficiaries/target groups are the stakeholders of the agricultural industry, including but not limited to, directors and technical managers of companies and farmers organisations, extensionists staff of organisations supporting smallholders, agents of the intermediate structures of the agricultural sector, public and private sector service providers, and public service agents with an emphasis on the competent authority for SPS inspection and certification (the National Plant Protection Organisation – NPPO), Pesticide registration authorities and laboratories, etc.

Type of activities
The planned activities will be carried out considering the process of digital transition at COLEAD and that of the beneficiaries/partners of its programmes. Thus, the planned activities can be carried out either on location, or totally remotely using the digital tools available, or in a hybrid way with a face-to-face part and a remote part.

The actions to be carried out as part of this tender will include the following aspects:

The services sought will contribute to increasing the technical and pedagogical skills of the target audiences on the different themes covered by this market. The various actions to be carried out under this call for tenders will be as follows, according to the category of the beneficiary and his needs:

  • Preparation (e.g. review and/or preparation of a training course) and animation of technical and pedagogical training, qualifying or not (on location or remotely using digital means);
  • Follow-up of training (coaching, training advice, evaluation, adjustment of training courses, etc.);
  • Improvement of training courses in vocational training centres and/or in the structures benefiting from the programs;
  • Support for the implementation of internal training systems (and training follow-up) for the beneficiaries;
  • Provision of guidance for distance learning via the COLEAD digital learning platform and/or a third-party platform (if applicable).

Illustration – Some examples of actions

  • Create and facilitate group training on human resources management;
  • Reviewing and adapting the training course on commercial negotiation;
  • Strengthen an expert technically and pedagogically through individual coaching sessions on themes and/or sub-themes covered by this tender;
  • Etc.

Technical Assistance
The services sought will aim to:

  • Support partner-beneficiaries / target groups in enhancing their operations and/or ensuring compliance with public and/or private requirements in relation to the themes and/or sub-themes covered by this contract (including follow-up of project);
  • Support the installation of tools to control the systems in place and monitor their performance;
  • Support the improvement of services offered by intermediary structures (public and private) and service providers respectively to their beneficiaries and/or members (enterprises, small producers, etc.) and to their clients (enterprises and/or consumers);
  • Validate the conformity of the systems implemented with national or international standards, private / regulatory standards (e.g. pre-audits and certification audits);
  • Facilitate the setting up of consultation frameworks between private operators and public institutions and the creation of working groups (i.e. public-private exchange forums) to apprehend new regulatory requirements or any other issue common to agricultural operators under the themes and/or sub-themes covered by the market.

Illustration – Some examples of actions

  • Support producers and MSMEs in each step of the installation of systems that meet the demands of local, regional and/or international markets (regulatory or private standards), possibly with a view to certification;
  • Diagnosis of an organisation’s social and commercial practices;
  • Supporting MSMEs in the management of financial and operational risks;
  • Supporting MSMEs in the development and/or revision of their business plans;
  • Supporting MSMEs in identifying suitable sources of external financing;
  • Accompanying organisations in strengthening their governance / management systems;
  • Etc.

The services sought will help to facilitate the logistical organisation of COLEAD’s technical assistance and training activities:

  • Obtain and analyse service offers for training rooms, catering services, accommodation and/or transport services. Submit the best offers and their analysis to COLEAD for validation;
  • Ensure that the service providers and selected/participating companies understand and accept COLEAD’s terms of payment and the terms of COLEAD’s assumption of responsibility;
  • Confirm the exact number of reservations to be made (food and accommodation) based on the actual registrations of participants. Make sure that the rooms have the necessary equipment (video projector, flipchart, etc) and if not, take the necessary steps to equip them;
  • Collect registration forms from the invited companies and register them. Follow up with the companies that have received invitations to ensure their participation, assist them in choosing their participants and explain how COLEAD will cover the costs;
  • Support participants and/or experts from abroad in the administrative procedures and in the organisation of their transport to the place of the activity/training;
  • Obtain the material necessary for the smooth running of the training course after discussing the needs with the experts and COLEAD. Receiving and, if necessary, clearing customs of the material sent by COLEAD for the activity/training. Hand over the training material sent by COLEAD to the experts for distribution to the participants;
  • Ensure that, each day, the participants and/or experts sign the documents required by COLEAD (attendance lists, accommodation lists, handover sheet for training material, list of trainees, etc.);
  • Check final invoices from service providers and compliance with the reserved services, attendance lists and accommodation lists. Send scans of the documents completed by participants and/or experts during the training to COLEAD, and, after verification and validation by COLEAD, send the originals by registered mail;

This list is non-exhaustive and some services may be added or removed depending on the logistical needs of the activities to be organised accordingly.

1Partner countries are defined as low-income, lower-middle income and upper-middle-income economies, categorised according to the DAC List of ODA Recipients.

9. Budget

The maximum value of this Contract Notice is € 1,500,000.

10. Provisional timetable

Date of publication of this Contract Notice: 01/02/2023
Deadline for receipt of applications (expressions of interest): 03/03/2023
Deadline for publication of the shortlist: 15/03/2023
Expected date for sending invitations to tenders: 16/03/2023
Deadline for submission of tenders: 08/05/2023
Date of notification to the successful bidders: 19/06/2023
Expected start date of the contract: (from) from the date of signature by the 2 contracting parties
The final schedule will be included in the tender documents.

11. Eligibility

Participation is open, under equal conditions, to all natural persons and legal entities (participating individually or in a consortium of bidders) who are nationals of the ACP and EU States and/or listed in Annex 1 to this document. A consortium may be a permanent group with legal status or an informal group created for the purpose of a specific call for tenders. All the members of a consortium (i.e. the lead partner and all other partners) are jointly and severally liable to the contracting authority.

A check will be carried out to ensure that none of the candidate bidders appears on any of the Financial Sanctions Lists (lists designating persons, groups or entities subject to financial sanctions by the United Nations, the EU and France).

The participation of an ineligible natural person or legal entity will result in the automatic exclusion of the application concerned. If this ineligible person is part of a consortium, the application of the entire consortium will be excluded.

12. Prohibition on pre-selected candidates forming groups

Any tenders received from tenderers allied with firms other than those mentioned in the shortlisted application forms will be excluded from the tender procedure. Shortlisted candidates may neither associate nor conclude mutual subcontracting agreements in the context of the contract in question. No more associations will be allowed after the shortlist has been established.

13. Criteria for selecting applications

Selection criteria relating to the technical and professional capacity of the bidder will be applied to candidates. In the case of an application submitted by a consortium, these criteria will apply to the whole consortium.

These criteria ensure that the candidate (or the consortium as a whole) has sufficient skills and experience to perform the contract.

The correct observance of the instructions for sending the application file will also be considered in the evaluation.

14. Application form

The bidder should indicate an interest in participating in the call for tenders by applying. If the candidate is pre-selected, the name of the structure indicated on the application file will be used in the shortlist. No further changes (name, consortium or other) will be allowed.

The form is available in English and French, and should be completed in one of these languages.

It includes the following data:

  1. General information on the applicant
  2. The application file:
    • 1 brief description of one or more recent assignments (within the previous 3 years) related to the type of activities, illustrating your competence in one or more areas of expertise described in the terms of reference (4000 characters maximum, spaces included).
    • the names of up to 3 experts who technically meet the expertise requirements and a brief description of their respective skills and experience.
    • at least one professional reference with an email address.

The application must be received by COLEAD no later than Friday, March 03rd, 2023.

15. Communication with COLEAD

If you have any questions regarding this Contract Notice or your application, please email
Be sure to include Contract Notice reference COLEAD/AO/231274 in the title of your email when communicating with COLEAD.

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