Consultancy to conduct capacity strengthening for small and medium businesses in the early childhood development (ECD) and tourism sectors

The Aga Khan Foundation

The Aga Khan Foundation is a private, not-for-profit international development agency, which was founded in 1967 by Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV, the 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims.

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Consultancy to conduct capacity strengthening for small and medium businesses in the early childhood development (ECD) and tourism sectors

Closing date: 

PURPOSE: To strengthen internal capacities of small and medium businesses in the early childhood development and tourism sectors on how to innovate sustainable businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic

DURATION: 5 months, November 2021 to March 2022


The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), is an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), established by His Highness the Aga Khan in 1967. AKF is a private, not-for-profit international development agency that seeks to provide long-term solutions to society’s problems. AKF has a special focus on investing in human potential, expanding opportunity, and improving the overall quality of life, especially for women and girls. AKF’s primary areas of focus are Education, Early Childhood Development (ECD), Health and Nutrition, Civil Society, Agriculture and Food Security and Economic Inclusion.


The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) launched a programme in Uganda to strengthen responses to the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. The 30-month, multi-sectoral programme will help strengthen existing health responses and increase awareness of prevention strategies and support mechanisms, while also working to minimise the mental health and socio-economic impacts of the crisis. It is anticipated that 140,000 individuals will be directly supported. AKF Uganda will work with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to strengthen communities’ ability to prevent and respond to COVID-19. The project includes providing rapid response funds to local district-based CSOs to meet identified community needs and disseminating messaging on prevention, protection, and stories of hope to vulnerable groups to respond to the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on youth, including increased mental health needs and sexual and gender-based violence (GBV) and decreased income-earning opportunities, livelihoods skills training and SGBV response services.

AKF will also engage youth through remote design sessions to develop innovative business solutions that meet immediate, medium, and long-term needs of communities arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. The program shall reach a total of 3,000 youth.


Pillar 3 of the EC program is about strengthening youth health and livelihoods to survive the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, AKFU shall support promising youth-led innovations and ideas whose ideas bring solutions to identified community problems under the ECD and tourism sector with flexible responsive innovation funds (FRIFs) to enable them to take their innovations to scale. The project shall support the selected youth innovators with personalized and tailored business training, coaching, advisory services, and networking opportunities to enable them to sharpen their business acumen and sustain their innovations

The COVID-19 crisis and associated restrictions on movement resulted into many micro and macro enterprises shutting down; they halted operations due to their inability to implement preventative health measures such as the provision of on-site lodging for employees, and sanitizers and handwashing equipment for customers. In addition to the lower demand and higher costs of safety measures, there was lessened production and productivity, increased use of technology for access to credit, reduced supply of inputs, and credit and liquidity constraints which have increased the operating expenses for the businesses.

According to the Uganda Business Climax Index, special issue no.02, March 2021 published by the Economic Policy Research Centre, despite the relaxation of COVID-19 containment measures especially lifting of the lockdown, the emergence of MSMEs from lockdown is much more challenging. On one hand, most of the businesses are experiencing liquidity challenges more so the female owned. On the other hand, access to credit is limited as financial institutions remain pessimistic about the businesses’ future. Employment recovery remains very sluggish as business sales have not fully recovered. Results suggest that recovery of employment is much slower in MSMEs in the services sector than in agriculture and manufacturing, alluding to the severity of the pandemic’s impact on the sector


The COVID-19 pandemic has had deeply concerning effects to the ECD sector which have been exacerbated by the restrictions, a UNICEF, report on Uganda July 2021 indicated that during the first lockdown in March 2020, over 15 million learners were sent home, and children missed 149 school days during that period: these disruptions to everyday life mean that many young children are at home unable to attend early childhood education and care and are therefore now entirely reliant on their caregivers for nurturing care and to meet all of their developmental needs (physical, emotional, social and cognitive); destitute teachers have turned to home schooling while others have turned to other jobs like brickmaking, charcoal burning, hawking, riding boda bodas, taxi driving, and working on construction sites..

This situation is further worsened by the fact that the ECD sector employs a pre-dominantly female workforce and is comprised entirely of private sector businesses: the threat to the early childhood development workforce shall have a lasting effect because staff without salaries are leaving the profession as reported in the Daily Monitor on 11th June 2021. The ECD sector includes businesses such as nursery schools, child-care centers, kindergartens, play centers, preschools among others.

Tourism has a huge potential to transform the livelihoods of communities in Uganda including the youth and women as it is one of the core sectors that were identified as representing a fundamental opportunity to harness in the pursuit of Uganda Vision 2040 which projects the country as one of the top five tourist destinations in Africa, contributing in excess of US$12 billion annually and among the top 10 long haul tourist destinations in the world by 2040.

Before 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Uganda’s tourism sector was on an upward growth trend, however, according to a study conducted by the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (Towards recovery from the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector in Uganda: April 2021), over 1 million tourist arrivals were lost. Visitor arrivals dropped from 1,542,620 in 2019 to 473,085 in 2020, tour and travel businesses downsized their workforce by 54% as both domestic and international air travel in Uganda declined tremendously. Businesses in the tourism sector include tour guides, tour operators, site guides, tours and travel companies among others


AKF seeks to work with a strategic business development services consultant to deliver skills training to youth-owned SMEs in the ECD and Tourism sector in the following areas:

  • Digital business, social media marketing, and communications.
  • Business survival through innovation
  • Pitching for financing


The consultant shall be expected to:

  • Develop and submit an inception report and work plan for the training for a total 200 participants (150 from the tourism sector and 50 from ECD)
  • Conduct a rapid needs assessment among sample target businesses
  • Develop and deliver comprehensive training modules with sustainable skills strategies based on a thorough understanding of what skills the business owners have access to today, what skills they will need in the future, and how they can build tomorrow’s workforce and future-proof their business.
  • Develop training schedule factoring in COVID-19 restrictions; some sessions shall be digital and others physical; (the training schedule should provide for this)
  • Prepare innovators for a pitching competition to benefit from the project and beyond
  • Develop and share progress reports as training take place,
  • Develop and submit an end of training report


AKF is looking for an experienced consultant (firm or team) with a strong understanding and knowledge in strengthening small and medium businesses. Experience in the tourism and early childhood development sectors would be an added advantage.

Candidates should demonstrate relevant experience and skills, including:

  • Experience of facilitating capacity building training in business development for small and medium business owners in rural and urban areas
  • Experience in developing and delivering contextualized training materials/ curriculum for topics including business innovation, sustainability, digital marketing, social media management for businesses, and preparing innovators for pitching
  • Proven expertise in advising and supporting needs-based innovations for small business owners
  • Exposure to the tourism and early childhood development sectors will be an added advantage,
  • Excellent communications skills and fluency in English is required,
  • Experience in compiling good practices documents on strengthening small and medium businesses.
  • Lead consultants/ trainers should have advanced degrees in business, entrepreneurship, innovation, or postgraduate qualifications in the same
  • Demonstrable experience delivering training via other channels e.g. virtual sessions will be an added advantage
  • Minimum of 3 years of progressively responsible and relevant experience in training and business development.

How to Apply

Interested applicants should submit the technical and financial proposal electronically and in PDF format. All applicants must include the following:

  • Technical proposal (maximum of 4 pages)
  • Cover letter including a brief explanation about the consultant with particular emphasis on previous experience with similar work.
  • Financial Proposal – Please provide a budget that includes all anticipated costs/ expenses (daily rate in the currency of the designated bank account, administration, and logistics) required to undertake this assignment.
  • CVs of the lead trainer and other technical people working on the assignment,
  • Proposed methodology
  • Draft work plan and implementation plan
  • Sample training modules from previous trainings conducted
  • References from similar assignments; include names of contacts at organisations, number of SMEs trained, a summary of the content, and contract sum

Organizations qualified and interested in this unique partnership opportunity with AKF should submit a compressed/zipped folder with the documents indicated by 4.30pm on Thursday 21st October 2021. E-mail these documents to with "Consultancy to conduct business development services for small and medium businesses in the ECD and tourism sector -Pillar 3" in the subject line. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

AKF believes in Equal Opportunity and is Committed to Safeguarding and Promoting the Welfare of Children and Vulnerable Adults and Expects all Staff and Consultants to Share this Commitment.

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