Digital Platforms Comparative Assessment Consultancy Opportunity in Kenya

Mercy Corps

Terms of Reference

Firm or Individual: Consulting firm

Program: Youth Impact Labs

Project title: Execution of digital platforms in different market regulations: A comparative assessment of Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia

Country: Kenya

From: 30th March 2020 To: 24th April 2020

Duration of Assignment: 25 working days

Program Context: The digital economy contributed $193 billion to the total world economic output, creating 6 million jobs globally, in 2011. In 2016, the mobile technologies and services alone generated an estimated $110 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa, contributing to 7.1% of the regions GDP, whereas ICTs in general accounted for 17% of GDP growth in developing countries.The digital economy will be key in increasing work opportunities in Africa, where 15 – 20 million youth expected to join the continent’s workforce every year until 2030.

Projections estimate that as Africa’s population continues to grow, the region’s estimated workforce is set to take over China’s by 2050, highlighting the need to find solutions to full the jobs deficit present in the market. One avenue the digital economy addresses employment in the region is through digital platforms.

Currently, there are over 200 digital platforms operating in Sub Saharan Africa, with more than 80% of these platforms developed locally in the region. The platforms operate in sectors ranging from ecommerce sites such as Jumia and Sky Garden, to logistics platforms such as Sendy and Ehailing applications such as Safeboda and gig platforms such as Lynk.

Due to the rapid rise of the digital economy, policy makers are increasingly coming up with regulations in their respective markets to establish order and control in this economy. Some notable regulations in place include competition and consumer protection, data protection and privacy, payment policies, taxation and employment and working conditions, among others.

As these regulations vary from country to country, leading to digital platforms having to evolve their business models to determine the right product-market fit that would enable them to operate in the markets they are in, as well as integrate with other players in the ecosystem.

Background: Youth Impact Labs (YIL)

Mercy Corps exists to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities. At Mercy Corps, we seek to create transformative change by tackling societal problems.

Mercy Corps’ Youth Impact Labs program identifies and test creative, technology-enabled solutions developed by social enterprises to tackle global youth unemployment, accelerating job creation so every young person has the opportunity for dignified, purposeful work. Focusing on vulnerable youth ages 18 – 35, Youth Impact Labs operates in two strategic regional hubs, serving the Middle East and East Africa.

Mercy Corps’ Youth Impact Labs supports social enterprises through financial and technical support, issued in the form of milestone-based grants. In East Africa, including Ethiopia, Mercy Corps’ Youth Impact Labs focuses on digital marketplaces and platforms that offer services to micro and small businesses; agricultural supply chain management; and digital work.

Mercy Corps’ Youth Impact Labs seeks to build a strong regional pipeline of innovators ready to create high-impact, scalable employment opportunities across various markets – for today’s youth and generations to come.

Below is the criteria we use to select partners:

  • Innovative: Bold solutions testing new business models and new technologies
  • Scalable: Solution can be replicated in on a larger scale
  • Sustainable: Innovation is financially self-sustaining
  • Impact: Solution would great substantial new work opportunities

Additionally, our post-investment support function enables on- boarded partners to get access to Google volunteers, to support development of technology solutions, and business support service providers, to provide tailored business support service to actualize scale.

Through the Youth Impact Labs program, Mercy Corps focuses on the three interconnected elements of the labor market system:

  • Supply: Preparing job seekers for market opportunities;
  • Demand: Creating work opportunities by engaging employers and supporting job creation platforms;
  • Ecosystem: Creating an enabling environment that facilitates safe, equitable and decent work opportunities.

Purpose of Engagement: In its line with being a thought leader on the online gig economy space, Mercy Corps’ Youth Impact Labs is planning to commission a study on the effectiveness of digital platforms operating in the different market regulations of Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

The study will analyze the regulations in place that affect the digital economy in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia and how these regulations influence the business models of gig platforms based in the three countries. The objective of the study is to identify what the key elements digital gig platform encompass into its business model and operations to be able to work in tandem with set market regulations that affect the digital economy landscape in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

This assignment will focus on 3 gig platforms partners of Youth Impact Labs, that operate in Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania and we anticipate this study will be able to provide insight to entrepreneurs in the digital economy ecosystem, as well as investors and donors, into the key regulatory policies that affect the sustainability or scalability of digital platforms in a certain market context.

Mercy Corps Youth Impact Labs will contract a consultant to perform this study, with the outputs of this engagement outlined in the deliverables section below.

Scope of Work

Focus of the study: The consultant will conduct a review on the different regulations currently or potentially affecting the digital economy in the Kenyan, Ethiopian and Tanzanian markets thereafter conduct a survey with industry stakeholders such as firms with digital platforms in the different countries.

The consultant will conduct an assessment on 3 gig platforms under Youth Impact Labs’ portfolio, on how they initially and subsequently developed their platforms and business model to suit the different markets they operate in, given the existing regulations in place.

During the research, the consultant will perform the following:

  • Conduct a market assessment study on each country and capture:
  1. Size and scope of the digital economy, in terms of total market size, breakdown of the digital platforms and the different sectors they fall under.
  2. Review of the different rates and charges, in particular:
    1. Internet penetration rates;
    2. Smart phone vs. Feature phone penetration rates;
    3. Mobile and internet data payment rates over the last 5 years (2014 – 2019).
    4. Tax charges and duties imposed on firms and consumers in the digital economy.
  • Provide a comparative overview of the gig platforms in Youth Impact Labs portfolio. This includes providing insight into:
    1. The business model of each firm; how it was initially conceptualized versus how they later evolved to fit the regulations and policies in place in the countries they operate in
    2. The addressable markets of each of the platforms, the addressable market size of the platforms and customer segmentation and profile.
    3. Skills level of the clients and workers or beneficiaries they serve and what are the regulations around consumer protection, employee social protection and incentive schemes, such as health, worker safety, insurance.
  • Perform a review of the policies and regulations in the three countries that affect the digital economy with a focus on tax regulation, employment and labour policies, payment policies, and registration process of firms in the digital space. Review how each regulation affects gig platforms in Youth Impact Labs portfolio, in the different countries they operate in and what the key differences are for each of platforms, based on the regulations.


The key deliverables from the project are:

  1. Inception report that captures revised scope of work, adjusted work plan, preliminary information request and draft information gathering tools
  2. Final report that details the regulations and policies that affect the digital economy in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. The report should include a summary on the analysis of the different rates: internet penetration, mobile penetration (smartphone and feature phone) and charges such as data costs and taxes or duties affecting firms in the digital economy, a detailed comparative overview of the business models of the gig platforms under Youth Impact Labs in the different markets with an explanation on how they evolved under the existing market regulations plus advantages or challenges as a result of these regulations, as well as other items listed in the scope of work above.

Skills and Experience

The consultant will be expected to be based in Kenya, with over 4 years of experience in market assessment studies and/or consultancy projects in the three countries: Kenya, Tanzania and in particular Ethiopia.

Consultancy Activities

The Consultant will:

  1. Develop an inception report at the start of the engagement that will include the research methodology and workplan.
  2. Conduct secondary research through a rigorous desk review
  3. Conduct primary data collection through use of interviews and focus groups
  4. Develop a draft final report for review by the Youth Impact Labs team
  5. Develop a final report that incorporates recommendations from the Youth Impact Labs team and the dissemination workshop above

Timeline, Budget & Terms of Payment

This consultancy will be effective for a period of up to 25 working days, from 30th March 2020 to 24th April 2020. The YIL Partnership Manager or delegate will make payment for services based on approval of the deliverables.

Youth Impact Labs plans to publish the report on 28th April 2020. The consultant will be expected to be based in Kenya, with experience in consultancy projects in the three countries: Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. While Mercy Corps does not anticipate the date of the publication to change, Mercy Corps will provide sufficient notice of not less than 3 days of any changes on the date of the publication.

Please respond to this RFQ with 10-pages (max) proposal that summarizes your suitability to complete the above assignment while highlighting your experience in delivering similar assignments including links to at least 4 studies conducted or reports published by you/your organization. At a bare minimum, the proposal should contain:

  1. Executive Summary: This should provide an overview of the organization, its service offering and markets/clients served.
  2. Team: Team composition of the bidding firm including relevant work experience and current roles.
  3. Project delivery plan: Should demonstrate how the consultant will work towards completing the project.
  4. Cost Summary: A detailed cost for the services rendered. A note on transportation, Mercy Corps will meet the cost of transportation during survey sessions. As such, this budget item can be excluded from the cost budget.
  5. Work portfolio: A brief bio description of at least (4) relevant past projects and accompanying documents, such as links to prior studies or reports undertaken in the past.
  6. References: A minimum of three (3) references including the name of the person(s) who may be contacted, title of the person, email address and phone number. The reference list should be indicative of the scope and magnitude of previously completed works.

Proposals must be sent digitally by 1700 hrs on Wednesday, 18th March 2020 to

Proposals will be evaluated on the criteria as captured in the annex section

Task Manager/Reporting

The consultant(s) will work under the management of the YIL Post Investment and Learning Advisor or delegate.

Ownership/Control of Work Product/Publication

Ownership and control of all work products and learning outputs related to this scope of work and partner engagement shall belong to Mercy Corps. Any use of material, learnings or publications derived from the work product will require prior written approval from Mercy Corps.

Economics and Statistics, ICT and Technology, NGO and UN
Updated: March 12, 2020 — 7:01 am