Mercy Corps YIL Microwork Landscape Assessment Consultancy in Kenya

Mercy Corps

YIL Consultancy Scope of Work (SOW) for Microwork Landscape Assessment

Project Location: Nairobi

Duration of Assignment: 20 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 region’s 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 .

One of the new models the digital economy has been able to catalyse in the region is online outsourcing, which is the business practice of engaging a supplier over the internet, with all transactions between the buyer and the vendor, from production to coordination, quality control, delivery, and payment, being processed online.

Reduced costs are one of the key drivers of online outsourcing’s growth, which includes two distinct subtypes of activities: microwork and online freelancing. Microwork tasks are broken down into “microtasks” that can be completed in seconds or minutes.

Those working in this industry require literacy and basic numeracy and information and communications technology (ICT) skills to undertake simple tasks such as image tagging, text transcription, and data entry.

Workers are typically paid small amounts for each completed task, and barriers to entry are lower than in online freelancing, making microwork particularly attractive to individuals with no specialized skills.

Low skilled and inexperienced young people, living in developing countries, such as Kenya, can become microworkers, especially if recruited, trained, and managed by impact sourcing service providers, such as Samasource, Daproim, Impact Enterprises, or RuralShores.

In the Kenyan economy, 500,000 to 800,000 youths on average enter the job market annually, however, the economy is unable to provide employment opportunities – formal and informal alike.

The nexus of microwork opens doors to digital jobs, market relevant skills development, work experience, and income to low-skilled youth and can have a positive ripple effect on their families and community.

Background: Mercy Corps Microwork Program

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 Microwork Program is partnering with FinX to initiate a program that aims to scale microwork opportunities via its blockchain based technology, to implement a program in Kenya focused on training out-of-work youth to earn income via microwork from the safety of their homes.

Consultancy Objectives

Mercy Corps seeks to identify a consultant to conduct a landscape assessment study and submit the findings through a report.

The assessment will involve:

  • Mapping out the microwork ecosystem i.e. Briefly map the key players in the microwork ecosystem in Kenya including work platforms, trainers, funders (both commercial and donors), payment service providers, etc.
  • Trainers and platforms: Review existing training and delivery models and identify what opportunities and gaps in the current models
  • Microworkers: Develop microworker profiles outlining skill level, access to internet and smartphones, aspirations and expected income and discuss opportunities and challenges that microworkers and youth venturing into microwork.
  • Payment gateways: Assess payment pathways that microwork implementers use on their microwork platforms i.e. from platform to microworkers hand. Assess which pathways are preferable to microworkers, cost of transactions, how often microworkers cash out and highlight transaction pain points.
  • Review impact focused microwork programs, evaluate the success factors, gaps and inclusivity of the programs . Provide recommendation on what success factors a program like Mercy Corps Microwork Program should have to implement an inclusive microwork training and placement pilot.

Consultant Activities

During the study, the consultant will perform the following activities:

  • Desk research: Review published reports on the microwork space and consolidate relevant information for this consultancy.
  • Conduct interviews with 5 actors in the space e.g. peer organizations or experts to assess what are their successes or challenges in implementing microwork training, placement or support programs, risks noted and mitigation efforts used to address challenges in provision of microwork support.
  • Conduct 3 focus group interviews with microworkers to assess their profiles, challenges and aspirations. Target participants include:
  • Existing freelancing micro-workers who are already conducting online work
  • Micro-workers who have gone through a training programme e.g. Ajira/ Cloud factory, etc
  • Aspiring micro workers – vulnerable youth who are currently out of work (unemployed)
  • Consolidate a brief report (15-20 pages) outlining the findings and recommendations.

Mercy Corps Microwork Program plans to publish this study in November 2020.


The key deliverables from the project are:

  • Inception report that captures revised scope of work, adjusted work plan, preliminary information request and draft information gathering tools
  • Final report that details the microwork space in Kenya, what is the level of engagement for microwork within certain populations, e.g. vulnerable youth, which jobs skills or service category contain the most microworkers, what challenges do microworkers face when accessing online work, what interventions are being undertaken to help people do microwork and what are their successes or challenges, recommendations that include key success factors that a program like Mercy Corps Microwork Program should have in implementing the program.

Skills and Experience

The consultant will be expected to have over 2 years of experience in market assessment studies in Kenya and/or consultancy projects in the digital economy space.

Timeline, Budget & Terms of Payment

This consultancy will be effective for a period of up to approximately 20 days, from 12th October 2020 to 8th November 2020. The YIL Partnership Manager or delegate will make payment for services based on approval of the deliverables.

Please respond to this RFQ with 4-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 2 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 (2) 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.
  7. Proposals must be sent digitally by 1700 hrs on 4th October 2020 to

Task Manager / Reporting

The consultant(s) will work under the management of the Mercy Corps Microwork program manager or delegate.

Ownership / Control of Work Product / Publication

Ownership and control of all work products related to this SOW will belong to Mercy Corps.

Annex: Selection Criteria

Economics and Statistics, ICT and Technology, NGO and UN
Updated: September 30, 2020 — 4:24 pm