Banyan Global is the prime contractor under this Advancing the Agenda of Gender Equality task order with United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Middle East Bureau to help USAID mission staff in the Middle East and North Africa to understand how to incorporate gender-based violence (GBV) considerations in its programming work. Banyan Global is implementing this task order in consortium with the International Center for Research on Women. The Banyan Global team is producing regional and country-specific indices on the socioeconomic costs of GBV in USAID presence countries in the region, including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and the West Bank and Gaza. Indices will be developed based on the findings from rigorous desk research, field research involving in-depth interviews and focus-group discussions, and qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Banyan Global also will develop training materials and conduct in-depth trainings and technical assistance to USAID missions, civil-society organizations, and host country governments to help integrate countering-GBV programming into multisectoral USAID programming both at the country and regional levels. The countering GBV initiative delineates the best ways to integrate GBV issues into programming involving multiple sectors, focusing on the socioeconomic effects of GBV on women in the region. The tools and trainings that will be developed for this task order require detailed gender analyses that are based on both regional and national perspectives.
Banyan Global is a sub-contractor to Chemonics on the USAID-funded Asia and Middle East Economic Growth Best Practices project (AMEG), which provides USAID missions in those regions with the tools to conduct successful economic and financial management assessments, strategic planning, diagnostics, pilots, and program designs. With USAID funding, AMEG promotes systematic policy and institutional reforms in support of expanded trade and investment, broad-based economic growth, and poverty reduction in Asia and the Middle East. Its work also includes identifying and promoting interventions, best practices, and pilot activities that support economic, financial management, budget, and public sector performance reforms; private sector investment; and more sustainable inclusive growth. Identifying and promoting these activities, interventions, and best practices emphasizes the importance of knowledge-sharing and management of critical economic and financial policy issues facing the region.
AMEG also focuses on key issues that are unique to the region, including workforce development, unemployment, and underemployment —particularly among youth and women —rates of investment, domestic production and trade, small and medium enterprises, and informal markets. AMEG activities promote the policies and best practices that support more equitable outcomes and inclusive growth. Banyan Global work across all technical areas on the project.
Banyan Global is a sub-contractor to Chemonics on the Asia and Middle East Economic Growth Best Practices (AMEG) Project. Through this mechanism, Banyan Global conducted the Lebanon Competitiveness Assessment, identifying impediments to private sector growth — particularly the growth of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) — and opportunities for the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to remove or alleviate these impediments in the future. In line with a “buyer-led” approach, this assessment examined the needs of SMEs and high-growth lead firms within key sectors and value chains to identify specific bottlenecks to growth and to identify strategic interventions to support SMEs developing goods and services for which demonstrated demand and commercial matchmaking opportunities exist. The assessment examined SME needs across five areas and made recommendations to support the following: 1) improved business enabling environment and institutional capacity of business associations and chambers; 2) demand-driven business development services; 3) increased trade and export linkages; 4) enhanced workforce development; and 5) opportunities for growth in special economic zones. Furthermore, this activity examined opportunities that exist for potential public-private sector partnerships to leverage resources to contribute to increased SME, productivity, sales, and exports. The recommendations also addressed the role of technological innovations to increase economic growth and private sector competitiveness, gender-focused programming, and synergies with USAID/Lebanon’s current economic strategy and ongoing portfolio.This work was coordinated and integrated with the “Lebanon SME Strategy, a Roadmap to 2020” developed by the Government of Lebanon’s Ministry of Economy and Trade.
USAID launched the Middle East North Africa Investment Initiative (MENA II) as an approach to improve investor and business access to equity capital, contribute to the development of the investment ecosystem, advance development of the financial system, and encourage increased equity investment in early stage businesses in participating countries. USAID has made selections and awards to partners to implement MENA II in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and West Bank. USAID is interested in measuring the impact of this initiative within and across these countries. The purpose of this project has been to conduct the following to assist in the development of an impact evaluation program and plan:
- Develop MENA II regionwide impact indicators. Indicators across all countries are being developed as a way to measure impact and compare effectiveness.
- Develop initial country-specific impact evaluation approaches. Because of the uniqueness of each country, the impact indicators may need to be measured using different data collection or evaluation methodologies that recognize local contextual nuances, country-specific MENA II approaches, and resource or evaluation constraints. Through this activity, Banyan Global will help USAID review options for evaluating MENA II’s impact and then select the most appropriate evaluation methodologies.
The identified indicators and evaluation approaches will serve as a precursor to collecting baseline data and then impact data periodically throughout the life of MENA II. Ultimately, these efforts will support an analysis of this innovative initiative’s development impact and help compare MENA II’s performance across the aforementioned countries.
As a subcontractor to Abt Associates, Banyan Global worked to improve reproductive health services in Jordan by strengthening the capacity of the Jordanian Association for Family Planning and Protection (JAFPP) to build sustainable financial and operational systems to deliver high-quality family planning and reproductive health services throughout the country. Banyan Global’s work focused on JAFPP’s financial sustainability and increasing their competitiveness within the Jordanian family planning sector. Banyan Global worked closely with JAFPP’s team to undertake feasibility studies to assess the viability of diversifying its product and service offering, analyze its cost structure and realign its product pricing, draft business plans for its growing clinic network, and develop more streamlined and effective internal financial and procurement systems. A training of trainers (TOT) was held for all clinic doctors on business management and setting targets to manage each clinic as an independent cost center. Banyan Global collaborated with JAFPP’s board of directors to monitor its financial sustainability and pricing policy, offering guidance and support to determine the most competitive and viable outcomes. Banyan Global held several trainings and workshops for the board of directors to improve governance and support the board’s development of a long-term investment plan to better manage its financial assets.
Under the Asia Middle East Economic Growth Best Practices project, Banyan Global worked with USAID’s Middle East Bureau to identify approaches and successful case studies of multifaceted solutions to sustainable job creation in high-unemployment countries. The assignment identified practical tools to integrate job creation and job placement best practices and lessons learned into economic growth programming in the Middle East region. The final deliverable was a Middle East focused job creation and job placement report, “Best Practices and Approaches for Better Employment Outcomes in the Middle East Region,” which includes a primer on best practices, sample indicators, case studies of several types of employment generation/job placement approaches, and sample scopes of work that can be used by USAID field officers. As a diagnostic tool on how best to apply these approaches and case studies to the Middle East context, the report highlights the critical job creation and job placement success factors demonstrated in each approach and the relevance of these success factors to Middle East developing countries. The report also contains suggested indicators to track progress and results of Middle East job creation and job placement programs.
Banyan Global’s team gathered secondary and primary data to analyze approximately 15 projects that incorporated demand-driven, private sector-oriented, and cost effective approaches to job creation for vulnerable populations. We researched and wrote the part of the report focusing on sustainable livelihoods approaches that foster self-employment or enhanced micro or small business employment. We gathered the information through field assessments to analyze a small number of high impact approaches in detail.
Banyan Global was a subcontractor to Abt Associates on the United States Agency for International Development-funded Private Sector Project for Women’s Health. The project helped the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan improve the health of Jordanian women and families through the increased availability of quality private-sector health care services, improved knowledge of how to self-manage illnesses, increased use of preventive and early detection measures, and a reduction in domestic violence. Banyan Global improved the sustainability and capacity of Jordanian nongovernmental organizations, strengthened the business capacity of female doctors in private practice, and explored the possibility of strengthening a network of women doctors. Banyan Global also prepared a financial analysis of a proposed national universal breast cancer screening program. The analysis examined the current and projected costs to the government of Jordan as well as the relative costs and benefits of finding cancer early versus in its later stages.
ACED builds the capacity of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) and the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC) in service provision, regulation, policy, planning, and advocacy. In addition the project facilitates skills development for local micro, small, and medium enterprise owners to maximize and equitably disperse the benefits from the investments coming into ASEZA. It also prepares citizens living in Aqaba to participate in decision-making in the zone and improve access to social infrastructure and the benefits of economic growth. Banyan Global is a subcontractor to AECOM to support the project’s core technical and crosscutting activities. Banyan Global ensured gender integration in all program activities and developed a gender statement and policy to be used by the project and key partners, including ASEZA and ACED. Banyan Global also provided a preliminary implementation plan that included recommendations on how ASEZA, ADC, and other stakeholders could implement the gender statement. Banyan Global has expanded its role in ACED to support core technical areas; most recently it conducted a labor market analysis aimed at identifying and targeting the gap between the labor needs for a successful investment strategy in Aqaba and the skills presented by the available human resources. This labor market analysis involved managing a team of local consultants in undertaking primary and secondary labor market research focused on local and national labor market trends in relation to the Aqaba economy.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) contracted Banyan Global to review the market for safe savings in the Palestinian territories and propose a range of deposit products and mechanisms that UNRWA could incorporate into its microfinance operations through its microfinance and microenterprise department. Banyan Global’s review includes a market survey and feasibility study to identify the scope for introducing savings services within UNRWA’s microfinance operations, an analysis of the legal and regulatory environment for such services, and a look at UNRWA’s operational procedures to determine what institutional, organizational, human-resource, technical, and IT conditions need to be developed to introduce safe-savings services.
AED contracted Banyan Global through the USAID-funded Small and Microfinance Assistance for Recovery and Transition (SMART) program to conduct a three-day training on crises risk management for MFIs in the West Bank and Gaza. Risk management allows MFIs to minimize the adverse consequences associated with internal and external risks. This course has been tailored for the West Bank and Gaza and focuses on external risks and their internal impact, associated with the political environment. As such, it centers on helping MFIs to manage and limit losses from delinquency, as well as plan for and manage their liquidity to withstand recurring external stresses to their balance sheet because of the conflict and economic climate.
Banyan Global completed a diagnostic of the Access to Credit Program (ACP), a microfinance program of CHF International’s. ACP was a home-improvement loan program in the West Bank and Gaza, but has expanded to include business loans and loans made with 100-percent ACP participation. Banyan Global’s diagnostic provided CHF with an in-depth understanding of ACP’s operations and identified areas for strengthening as ACP transforms into a local and independent organization. The review covered all aspects of ACP’s operations including organizational structure, policies and procedures, reporting, loan process, staffing, communications, and management oversight. Recommendations were made to help strengthen the organization.
Banyan Global was contracted to deliver the CGAP donor training in collaboration with the Microfinance Management Institute. The training covered basic microfinance best practices, institutional appraisals, donor roles and responsibilities, and legal and regulatory frameworks for microfinance. Participants included government officials as well as traditional donors and investors, including the Central Bank of Sudan, the Ministry of Planning in Jordan, the Ministry of Labor in Palestine, DFID, the European Union, CRS-Egypt, Sofifund Foundation, the Agriculture Bank of Sudan, among others.
Under a contract with the Academy for Educational Development (AED), Banyan Global provided technical assistance under the USAID-funded Small and Microfinance Assistance for Recovery and Transition (SMART) Program in the West Bank and Gaza. Banyan Global conducted a diagnostic assessment and made recommendations for assistance for Microfinance Providers (MFPs) that applied to the SMART Project for technical assistance and funding. The diagnostics completed during this early stage of the project focused on the MFPs’ current situation and their capacity to respond to the economic crises in the West Bank and Gaza and on their potential for growth and their future funding needs. A generalized industry technical assistance plan was also developed for broad support to the sector. In addition, Banyan Global developed an annual work plan for the program based on pending technical assistance packages, industry-wide technical assistance, and continuing projects.
Funded by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), Banyan Global conducted a donor mapping survey of the microfinance sector in the MENA region. We identified the major public and private donors and investors, as well as key trends in funding levels and patterns.
As a subcontractor to AViD Consulting Corporation, Banyan Global carried out an institutional evaluation of five local USAID partners in Egypt. We also conducted an overview of the microfinance sector, including such support facilities as a credit guarantee company and a technical services provider. Banque du Caire, the largest provider of microfinance in Egypt, with more than 60,000 clients, as well as the Alexandria, Dakheleya, and Assiut business associations, each with more than 40,000 clients, were among the institutions examined. In addition, our team facilitated individual interviews and focus groups with select program clients to assess the program’s demand, impact, and relevance. The evaluation and sector study were the first in USAID’s 15 years of support to Egypt’s microfinance sector. The results will guide future program interventions.