USAID is the largest bilaterial foreign aid donor, making them an attractive and important source of funding. To help those who want to partner with the aid agency but struggle with the slow and difficult market, USAID advisory firm Konektid developed a white paper outlining ten best practices for subcontractors.
Many subcontractors are not in a position to be the prime implementer of large projects, as a subcontractor or subgrantee. However, they can add value to a bid and support implementation with their niche expertise. By following Konektid’s strategy recommendations, subcontractors will have a better chance of acquiring a successful partnership with USAID.
5 USAID subcontracting Do’s:
- Track results
Track data, results and testimonials from the off-set. Both USAID and prime implementers (primes) expect their partners to have a portfolio that illustrates past performance and showcases successes. Being prepared to share your experience of working in countries where USAID operates and providing data to back your results is imperative.
Supplementing data with anecdotal quotes such as with USAID staff testimonials, authority figures or others that do not have a stake in your company is ideal.
- Know USAID’s priorities
Shape your qualifications statements on the agency’s business forecast and anticipated funding opportunities. The focus must be relevant to the project and use the same language as USAID.
Pay close attention to requirements.
- Focus on what you have done, not what you can do
Experience in different regions may not be relevant. Focus on the niches where you have strong past performance and excel in delivering results to make your team stand out.
- Keep your pitch relevant
Make it as easy as possible for the prime to see the value you would add to their team.
Keep your past performance statements relevant to the bid’s technical and geographic scope.
- Build long-term relationships
Accept that immediate outcomes are not likely, and put processes in place to build partnerships over 12-24 months.
Cultivate a diverse network at each prime contractor so you have contacts in multiple regions.
5 USAID subcontracting don’ts:
- Don’t underestimate the importance of timing
It is unproductive to approach a prime after a proposal has been submitted
- Don’t sell your idea
No matter how groundbreaking or impressive your product is, partnering with USAID will be challenging if you don’t fit into their priorities. Learn their priorities, then assess how you can add value.
- Don’t expect quick revenue
The procurement cycle is long, so a good model for measuring USAID partnership progress is to focus on building your pipeline of pending partnering opportunities.
- Don’t rely exclusively on any relationship
Building relationships with different primes can help you customise your strategy to every procurement you pursue. A broad network can also help increase your partnering options.
- Don’t expect a prime to follow up with you
Large primes are inundated with organisations trying to partner with them. Be proactive with regular, polite follow-ups to track USAID priorities. Even if the project they’re bidding on isn’t a fit for you, you may be able to recommend another organisation. This is the essence of networking and relationship-building. People like to do business with organisations that are good to work with and always strive to add value to projects.
If you want to learn more about partnering with USAID, visit AidEx 2018 in Brussels on 15 November to hear Founder and CEO of Konektid International Mike Shanley speak, and visit Konektid on their stand D46/n on 14 and 15 November 2018. Register to attend for free here >>