Application process

The process of making an application and receiving a grant award from the BFCF is shown below. BFCF awards would be broadly based on a two-stage bidding process, according to the terms described hereafter and activities shown below:

Concept Note(CN) Stage

It is easy to apply! If you think that you have a good project idea that responds to a currently open challenge, please submit the Project Concept Note form to us. Once the deadline for applications closes, the CNs will be assessed by the Advisory Panel, for selection to proceed to the full proposal stage.

Once a Round is opened applicants would be invited to submit a Project Concept Note (CN) on a four-page standard format- describing the principles of the project concept; the proposed implementation methodology and timeframe; the likely project financial structure, and indicating the reason why BFCF funding is essential. The CN should indicate the level of innovation and additionality envisaged, and particularly, the likely beneficial impact of the project on MSEs. All concept notes that satisfy the BFCF eligibility criteria will be evaluated by the Fund Managers and presented to the Advisory Panel for consideration. BFCF Manager will act as secretariat to the Panel, but will not have any say in the Panel decisions.

The BFCF Advisory Panel will assess the CNs in accordance with the evaluation criteria framework and will invite those bidders with the most competitive ideas to submit full applications/ detailed business proposals. All other applicants will be contacted and informed of the reasons for not being invited to submit full applications. Where appropriate they will be guided as to how their ideas might be made modified to make it more competitive.

Full Proposal Stage

If your company / entity is successful, you may be invited by the BFCF manager to a workshop, to brief your firm on how to submit your proposal, and answer any points of clarification. The team will also visit your organization / company to carry out basic due diligence assessments. Proposals and due diligence reports undertaken by the fund managers will be presented to the Advisory Panel for their final selection/grant funding decisions.

The BFCF Manager will advise applicants on the preparation of their full applications (business plans), which will be submitted on a standard form, supplemented by additional appendices/ materials in support of their application. The BFCF management will conduct due diligence of the bidders prior to submission of their applications and ensure that all information has been properly submitted before presenting these to the Advisory Panel, which will again judge the submissions against the formal evaluation criteria in making the Panel’s grant investment decisions. The Advisory Panel will decide which applicants merit awards, and will instruct the managers of any additional modification to the project that might be required and/or of any conditions that need to be negotiated with the successful bidder applicants.

Eligibility Criteria of Bidders/Applicants

Bids must be led by private sector firms including: banks, MFIs, NBFIs, insurance companies, mobile financial services and telecom operators, technology solution providers, and private sector business development services providers (like training and educational institutions, consultancy and accountancy firms, private sector companies providing advisory and other services to MSEs, NGO/MFIs and any private for-profit company providing advisory, skills development services to MSEs.

Applicants, bidding for BFCF funding, are expected to meet the majority of the following criteria in their grant applications:

The total Grant funds requested must be at least GBP 80,000 and no more than GBP 900,000.
Applicants should already provide or are proposing to provide support services and financing products to the target MSE beneficiaries.
Applicant (including 3rd parties such as co-investors or banks and other lenders) provides matching funds of at least 50% of the total cost of the business idea i.e. at least as much as the funds requested from the Fund.
The funding request is for a specific, new and innovative business idea/project that addresses one of the two challenges set. The Fund views innovation in its broadest sense including: i) a new approach, idea, product or service that has not been tested anywhere; ii) an approach, idea, product or service that is new to Bangladesh; iii) an approach, idea or service that has not been applied to the sector in question in which the proposed project is being implemented; or iv) service or business model being introduction to target MSEs where it has not been tried before
Applicants must demonstrate “additionality” that the project would not go ahead without grant funding or if it would go ahead, it would be at a much reduced pace or scale.
An organization may partner with other organizations, including NGOs and Community organizations. However it is a condition that the lead applicant and implementer of the business idea must always be a commercial organization/business. Partnerships, cooperatives and sole traders are also eligible.
The idea must be implemented in Bangladesh either by private sector organisations registered in Bangladesh or externally registered businesses investing in Bangladesh.
A consortium may be formed, but the lead applicant is responsible for the project/ idea and must warrant that the permission of the other members has been obtained.
The lead applicant should have at least three years relevant track record and audited financial information and be prepared to provide a statement of non-involvement in any kind of financial malpractice.

Funding and Rounds

The BFCF will operate through a Round system. For the 3rdRound, the BFCF team will launch all three windows together, to ensure that DFID obtains economies of scale in our marketing efforts. We have set the following Challenges for the Three Windows (Objectives) of the BFCF:

Window 1: BDS Services to Improve MSE Access to Finance: Deliver new products, and services that business support services to unbanked Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) to improve their ability to access finance from the formal financial sector (Banks, Non-Bank Financial Institutions and Micro-Finance Institutions). Fund size for this window would be GBP150,000-GBP450,000.

Window 2: New Products, Delivery Channels and Business Models to Increase MSE Financing: introduce new innovative financial products that address the needs of the underserved and unbanked Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) sector. Fund size for this window would be GBP350,000-GBP1 Million.

Window 3: Support Women Entrepreneurs access to finance: Introduce innovative business models specifically targeted to women to either: i) improve access to BDS enabling female owned MSEs to access finance; ii) access to finance for female entrepreneurs through specifically targeted innovative products and delivery channels. Fund size for this window would be GBP250,000-GBP750,000.

Grant Funding Amount Ranges

Window 1:Fund size for this window would be GBP150,000-GBP450,000.

Window 2:Fund size for this window would be GBP350,000-GBP1 Million.

Window 3:Fund size for this window would be GBP250,000-GBP750,000.

Grant funds will be disbursed to approved grantees, based on accomplishment of Milestones incorporated in the Grant Contract Agreements.

Contract Agreement with CF

The BFCF managers will negotiate and put in place all contracts. Contracting of grantees will follow three key steps: i) We will work with your organization / consortia to develop a project logic model (theoretical basis of how your proposed project is supposed to work)and a framework for monitoring the results of your project; ii) We will work with your organization to define milestone-based payments which serve as payment triggers for the release of BFCF grant funding; and iii) We will work together to assign specific activities with projected budget expenditures relating to what your entity/consortium.

BFCF managers will then be responsible for monitoring and supervision of all grantees, to ensure that funds are used in accordance with agreements and to assess the impact of funded projects. All funded project grantees will be required to provide regular and pre-agreed reports, to help supervise the degree to which monies are being utilized in accordance with the negotiated terms and to measure the impact that the initiatives are having in relation to the objectives of the Fund. Grantees will also be required to submit project completion and post-completion reports.