Consultant – Global – SME Internal Review

Terms of Reference for SME Internal Review

1) Background

The implementation of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) provides a unique opportunity to harness trade for growth. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), full implementation of the TFA could reduce trade costs by more than 14% in low-income countries and more than 13% in upper-middle-income nations by streamlining the flow of goods across borders.[1] This could lead to an increase in developing countries’ exports by up to US$730 billion per year.[2]

In support of national and international efforts, the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (the Alliance) was launched at the World Trade Organization’s 10th Ministerial Conference in December 2015 with the aim of bringing together the public and private sector to coordinate and accelerate commercially-meaningful and sustainable trade facilitation reform. The Alliance is a not-for-profit venture jointly led by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) – in cooperation with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and financially supported by the governments of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and Denmark. The Alliance currently implements 10 projects around the world on trade facilitation topics such as: modernising licensing for customs clearing agents, implementing a risk-based inspection system for imports and exports, and setting up a customs bond system.

The Alliance’s approach, known as co-creation, relies on involving the private sector as an equal partner of governments, leveraging its resources and know-how in the development and implementation of reforms. During the April and July 2019 Alliance Steering Group Meetings, the Secretariat was asked to explore options to integrate inclusivity considerations into co-creation and Alliance operations more broadly, including a plan to further strengthen the Alliance’s engagement with small-and-medium sized enterprises (SMEs), as both partners and beneficiaries.

The Alliance and its Steering Group have identified that inclusion of SMEs in trade facilitation reform is important to ensure reforms generate inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction. In most economies, small-and-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) constitute the majority of businesses but are underrepresented in international trade.[3] There is evidence that when SMEs trade they can spur inclusive economic growth through increased productivity, employment and knowledge spillovers.[4] While Alliance operations have involved SMEs, there is recognition that such engagement can be further strengthened, structured, measured and communicated.

2) Objectives

The Alliance Management Team has agreed to pursue a two-pronged approach to mainstreaming SMEs into operations:

  1. Carry out an internal review of projects, policies and processes to identify existing activities to include SMEs, identify where gaps exist, and recommend how to close them
  2. Develop general and fit for purpose guidelines to further integrate SME considerations in Alliance operations.

These terms of reference focus on item 1 above (i.e. internal review), understanding that its findings should feed into the development of item 2 (i.e. general guidelines). Thus, the objective of this consultancy is to undertake an internal review of Alliance projects, policies and processes, comprised mainly of desk review of documents (including strategies, project documents and reports) and interviews with relevant staff, donors and partners, to identify and document existing SME-relevant activities, components and results.

3) Methodology 

This consultancy will be largely based in qualitative methods, mainly desk review of documents and interviews with relevant staff, donors and partners. If appropriate and feasible, quantitative information should be used to support findings and highlight achieved results.

4) Deliverables 

There are two main deliverables under this consultancy:

  1. A comprehensive report describing how and to what extent Alliance in-country projects, processes (e.g. co-creation, co-implementation, TTLC, monitoring and evaluation) and policies (e.g. recruitment, procurement) include SMEs, and providing guidance on areas of improvement
  2. A review of existing Alliance projects and a table with targeted recommendations on how to further streamline SME participation into and potentially increase the benefits accruing to them from these projects.

5) Management, Timeline and Compensation

The consultant(s) procured under this ToR will report to the Alliance Knowledge Specialist, who will serve as the main point of contact between the consultant(s) and the Alliance Management Team, providing all relevant documentation and assisting in setting up necessary interviews and consultations.

The consultancy is home-based and will be conducted between April and July 2020, according to the timeline below:


Activity Tasks Deadline Payment terms
1)     Data gathering and drafting ·  Preliminary discussions with Alliance Management Team

·  Desk review of relevant documents

·  Interview with staff, donors and partners (as appropriate)

29 May 2020
2)     Draft report and recommendations ·  Delivery of draft report and recommendations

·  Revision by Alliance Management Team

12 June 2020 50% upon submission
3)     Final report and recommendations ·  Delivery of final report and recommendations, integrating comments received


10 July 2020 50% upon submission

6) Selection process

Candidates are requested to submit the following by 20 March 2020 to the Knowledge Specialist, Ms. Candice White (

  1. Technical proposal (max 2 pages) describing the proposed methodology and approach
  2. One relevant writing sample
  3. Curriculum Vitae (CVs) and/or company profile
  4. Financial Proposal (in USD)

[1] OECD (2015).  Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement: The Potential Impact on Trade Costs

[2] WTO (2015).  World Trade Report: Speeding up trade: benefits and challenges of implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

[3] World Trade Organization. (2016). World Trade Report 2016: Levelling the Trading Field for SMEs.

OECD (2018). Fostering greater SME participation in a globally integrated economy: Plenary session 3.

[4] OECD (2017). Enhancing the Contributions of SMEs in a Global and Digitalised Economy.