Who can apply to the Business Finance Challenge Fund (BFCF)?

All applications must be submitted by a for profit company, bank, microfinance institution (MFI), or non-bank financial institution (NBFI) registered in Bangladesh. However, implementation of the proposed project could be supported by other companies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs and INGOs), government-related agencies, and other non-profit organizations.

Can a state-owned enterprise (SOE) operating in the sectors identified in BFCF’s challenges apply to the Fund?


Can a foreign firm, or foreign joint venture, or multinational company with registered representation within Bangladesh apply to the Fund?


Can an individual person apply?

No. All applications must come from a registered company.

Can a government agency apply to the Fund?

Only if it is associated with a private sector applicant. The partner company or financial institution must lead the application and demonstrate sufficient commitment to the project.

Can an NGO apply to the Fund?

Likewise, the NGO must collaborate with a partner company, financial institution or micro-finance institution. The partner company, financial institution, or micro-finance institution must lead the application and demonstrate sufficient commitment to the project.

Can an association apply to the Fund?

Yes for the challenge fund window which has the potential to offer innovative business support services to MSEs to improve their ability to access finance from the formal financial sector. The association must collaborate with a partner company, financial institution or micro-finance institution. The partner company must lead the application and demonstrate sufficient commitment to the project.

Can a co-operative apply to the Fund?

Yes, but only through the business development services window.

Must the applicant be located or registered in a particular location(s) in Bangladesh?

We welcome applicants from any part of Bangladesh. However, the project will need to demonstrate that it can benefit a significant number of MSEs. Those with impact in rural areas will receive favorable consideration.

What financial (and other) capacity must all applicants have?

All applicants will need to demonstrate their capacity to implement their proposed project, and must also be able to contribute a minimum of 50% of the cost of the business idea. Contributions can be made through a combination of in-kind and cash contributions and will be evaluated on a case by case basis dependent on the circumstances of the project proposed.

What other eligibility criteria must applicants meet?

All applicants must provide evidence of their legal status, office address, telephone number, fax number, company registration number and tax registration. Applicable regulatory approvals governing project activities will need to be obtained.

I am still not sure if I am eligible to apply.

If you are unsure of your eligibility to apply, please contact us, by email for written clarification and guidance.

What type of project is the BFCF looking for?

The funding request must be for a specific, new and innovative business idea to improve MSEs’ access to finance in Bangladesh. The BFCF views innovation in its broadest sense including: i) a new approach, product, idea or service that has not been tested anywhere; ii) an approach, product, idea or service that is new to Bangladesh; or iii) an approach, product, idea or service aimed at improving MSEs access to finance that has not been applied to a specific sector in Bangladesh.

What products and services will be involved?

The BFCF focuses on improving access to finance to the MSEs in Bangladesh through increasing: i) the supply of market-based, business services for MSEs to improve their access to finance; and ii) new products, delivery channels, and business models by banks, NBFIs and MFIs to support MSE financing. Please check our website for specific challenges.

I have an idea for a Project that would have a positive impact on MSEs and the livelihoods of the poor in Bangladesh, but it is outside of the area defined by the Challenge. What should I do? At this stage, the BFCF only wishes to consider project proposals that fit within the parameters set by the specific challenge. However, please submit your details on our website’s subscriber list, so that we can keep you up-dated on future challenges.

What if the project is quite risky?

We are interested in potentially risky projects that can demonstrate the potential for commercial sustainability in the long run, and the ability to have significant impact on MSEs. We are not interested in supporting a low level of business risk which might easily attract more conventional financing, such as bank loans.

Must the proposed project be located in a particular location with a high proportion of MSEs? No, we will consider projects located in any part of Bangladesh. We will favour project proposals that are expected to have the greatest positive impact on the MSE growth and employment generation, and projects with rural impact will receive favorable consideration. .

What is the time frame for eligible projects?

All projects approved as part of the third round of challenges should require no more than 24 months to reach completion.

I have failed in previous applications to other challenge funds. Can I submit my proposal to the BFCF Financial Innovation Fund?

Yes. If you believe your idea meets the challenge fund criteria, we would be happy to receive your proposal.

Does the fund provide up-front payments to projects?

No. Payments will be made according to an agreed-upon schedule with the Project’s implementers. Payments will be released when the project meets each pre-agreed milestone. Payments will in most cases be reimbursements for funds spent by the grantees, according to the contract.

What is the usual size of the grant?

The grant size will vary between the types of windows:

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.

Applicants must keep in mind that at least 50% of the Project’s costs must be provided by them, as the Fund will only provide up to 50% of the Project’s total costs. Contributions can be made through a combination of in-kind and cash contributions and will be considered on a case by case basis depending on the circumstances of the individual project proposed.

In what currency the money will be released?

The grant will be denominated in £ only.

Precisely what kinds of activities can, and cannot, be funded by the BFCF Financial Innovation Fund?

Specific activities and items that will be funded by BFCF will be determined during contract negotiations.

Will the BFCF expect to be involved directly in the management of the projects it supports?

No. The Fund will not be involved in direct management of any project.

How will the implementation of funded projects be monitored?

Grant recipients will be expected to comply with various reporting requirements, to be mutually agreed during contract negotiations.

Will the BFCF provide any technical assistance to support implementation?

Yes, the Fund will provide advice and consultation as required.

What are the practical and administrative requirements for grant recipients?

Recipients of grant funding by the BFCF will be expected to comply with the following requirements:

Achievement-upon milestones to trigger payments
Quarterly progress report
Financial statement of expenditures

What is a Concept Note?

The Concept Note is the first part of the application process. Applicants wanting to participate in the BFCF must initially complete a concept note. The Concept Note allows applicants to briefly present how ideas respond to the Challenge. All concept note submissions will be reviewed by the Advisory Committee, and the most promising ideas will go through to the next stage.

Does the BFCF provide any assistance in developing the Concept Note and Proposal?

No. However, applicants that are subsequently invited to submit more detailed proposals will be provided with some guidance.

What is the grant process?

Yes, the Fund will provide advice and consultation as required.

Step 1: Challenge is set by BFCF Financial Innovation Fund.
Step 2: Interested parties have one month to submit their concept notes.
Step 3: BFCF’s Advisory Panel reviews all concept notes, and short lists the most promising applications.
Step 4: Shortlisted applicants are invited to submit more detailed proposals within five weeks .
Step 5: The Advisory Panel reviews proposals and selects grantees.
Step 6: Fund Managers enter into contract negotiations with successful applicants.
Step 7: Contracts are signed.

Is there a Right of Appeal for unsuccessful submissions?

No. The Advisory Panel’s decision is final. There is no right of appeal.

Can I submit more than one application?

Yes, applicants may submit more than one concept note if they have multiple projects they wish to propose.

If I am not successful, can I apply again at a later date, with a revised or new project proposal?

Yes, if a project does not reach proposal stage, or is ultimately not funded, the applicant company may submit a concept note for another (or revised) project in the next round of Challenges.

What if the milestones are too difficult to achieve?

The milestones set by the BFCF and the grant recipients will be mutually agreed upon, and will be set out in a formal contract, before the first grant disbursement is made. If you believe the milestones set are too demanding, and a mutually satisfactory agreement cannot be reached, then you are free to halt the application process at any time.

I am worried that my Project idea is a good one and could be ‘stolen’. Will my proposal be treated confidentially?

Yes. All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence during the application process. All the people involved in running the Fund, including the Advisory Panel members, have signed a binding Code of Conduct that prohibits them from divulging details of the applications to others, and also prohibits them from using the information for personal gain.

What languages should I use?


Will the contract between the BFCF and my company / organization be kept confidential?

Yes. The terms of the contract will be kept confidential.

How do I know that my proposal was received by the BFCF?

We will acknowledge the receipt of your Concept Note or proposal.

How can I submit my Concept Notes and proposal?

You can submit Concept Notes and proposals through email (as attachments), or EMS/post.

How will I know which proposals have been accepted?

The BFCF will send a letter to each applicant, advising them of the decision.

How will I know when a new round of the competition is on?

Please subscribe to our email alert service at the BFP-B website at:

What happens if the Project is unable to meet one or more of the agreed milestones?

If a project fails to meet an agreed milestone, according to the contract agreed, then any subsequent grant releases by the Fund will be halted until a mutually satisfactory solution is found. If a solution cannot be found, the Fund may regrettably have to halt its grant funding of the project at that stage.

Will I be expected to pay back some or all of the grant money if the project is ultimately

unsuccessful, or fails to meet its initial goals?

No, you will not.

How is the BFCF different from other funds and finance providers in Bangladesh?

The BFCF provides grants for projects of companies, financial institutions or Micro-finance Institutions rather than the individual organization. BFCF does not seek to obtain any financial return. The Fund is not an equity or venture capital investor, and will not buy shares in a company or a project. Nor will it wish to share in the profits of successful projects.

The BFCF is also not a bank, and does not provide loans or other kinds of debt financing. The funding provided is grant money, and there is no interest or other charges attached to the money provided by the fund.

Who are the partners of BFCF?

The BFCF is supported by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).

Might grantees be subjected to an audit?


What arrangements for audit of funds might be expected?

The grantee will have the audit done annually at their discretion as stipulated in the grant contract and submit the audit report to us.

What is the format for the periodic reports?

This should be a quarterly report on progress to date.