Date Issued: November 24, 2015

Submission Date (Extended): January 22, 2016

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Women’s World Banking is seeking proposals from business strategy consulting firms to undertake a two-phase evaluation and strategy design process through the first half of 2016. This RFP outlines the objective, key areas of focus, proposed process and timeline for Phase 1 (External Evaluation) and Phase 2 (Strategy Design). There are different components to Phase 2. Candidates can apply to one, more, or all of the components of the work outlined below.

Background and Context
There have been tremendous gains in financial inclusion over the past decade. According to the World Bank’s Global Findex Database, the number of people around the world without an account at a financial institution dropped by 700 million between 2011 and 2014; yet, there remain two significant challenges to overcome. First, women are being left behind. Despite progress in access to accounts, the gender gap remains unchanged at 9 percentage points in developing economies. Second, while access has increased overall, use of these accounts lags. For Women’s World Banking to achieve its vision where “all women will be able to build a secure and prosperous future for themselves and their households,” there is much more to be done to bring financial services to the more than 1 billion unbanked and underbanked women around the world.

About Women’s World Banking
Women’s World Banking is the global non-profit devoted to giving more low-income women access to the financial tools and resources essential to their security and prosperity. For more than 35 years, we have worked with financial institutions to show them the benefit of investing in women as clients and as leaders. We equip these institutions to meet women’s needs through authoritative market research, leadership training, sustainable financial products and consumer education. Headquartered in New York, Women’s World Banking works with 38 institutions in 27 countries with a reach of 14 million women to create access to finance on a greater scale that ever before. The Organization operates with an annual $10-$12 million budget and approximately 45 full–time staff members.

Objectives and Responsibilities

Phase 1: Strategy Evaluation
The objective for Phase 1 is to facilitate a comprehensive assessment of the current performance and progress thwoards the execution and achievements of the 2014-2016 Strategic Plan. This phase will also evaluate how the organization delivered against the four key shifts identified: Products, Knowledge and Influence, Leadership and Diversity, and Funding.

Key Areas of Focus:
1. Performance against current Strategic Plan: Assess the outcomes and impact achieved to date against the institutional dashboard developed as part of the strategy. Provide recommendatoins for course correction, if any, and recommendations for achieving objectives within the remaining strategy period.
2. Ability to reach scale: In the current strategy period, there was a conscious shift in emphasis from product innovation and testing towards reaching scale defined as the number of clients reached with financial products and services and through the knowledge and influence agenda. The evaluation should assess drivers that propelled the institution in that direction as well as barriers that need to be addressed.

Phase 2: Strategy Design and Development
The objective of Phase 2 is to build upon the current strategy and its strengths with the goal of defining a road map that will allow Women’s World Banking to reach unprecedented scale in the number of low-income women reached with quality financial products and services. Women’s World Banking’s strategy cycle has always run for a period of three years. Given the goals of the future strategy and the desired impact, Women’s World Banking would like the consultant to review and recommend the most appopriate strategic planning time frame.

Key Components:
1. Digital Financial Services (DFS) and the role of technology: “Between 2011 and 2014, the number of unbanked individuals dropped by 20% to 2 billion. This increase in account ownership came from innovations in technology; particularly mobile money which is helping to rapidly expand access to financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Women’s World Banking and other stakeholders strongly believe that DFS presents an opportunity to address women’s financial needs in ways that both informal and traditional formal financial services have been unable to do. Financial services delivered digitally can address physical and emotional barriers for women by offering better services at lower cost. DFS in financial inclusion is a given but what is an optimal strategy around DFS specifically as it relates to women clients? What role can technology play in reaching large numbers of women? Where does Women’s World Banking fit into the DFS landscape? Answering these questions will be critical to the success of the future strategy.
2. Knowledge, Influence and Advocacy: Reaching 1.1 billion unbanked and underbanked women is no small task. What role can Women’s World Banking’s knowledge and advocacy work play in influencing governments and the private sector (financial institutions, MNOs, payment companies, MNCGs etc.) to move from cash to electronic payments; to introduce regulation that would facilitate the easier opening of a bank account? What knowledge products and other platforms would help us in this advocacy agenda?

Components 1 and 2 will need to take into consideration the following aspects:

Business Model: Women’s World Banking’s current business model allows us to reach up to 5 million clients, ~50% of them women in 5 years. If Women’s World Banking is seeking to reach unprecedented numbers of low-income women, how does the current business model need to change? Should we consider multiple delivery models and could any of them be structured to generate business revenue for Women’s World Banking?

Partnerships: Strategic partnerships are critical to the success of any organization. What partnerships does Women’s World Banking need to maintain/grow/develop in order to deliver on its desire for reaching low-income women at greater scale and achieving greater impact? What is the role of the current Women’s World Banking Network in reaching scale?

Measurement and Results: Measurement of results in the not-for-profit sector is essential for the credibility and relevance of an organization. How can Women’s World Banking enhance its monitoring and results framework to be even more robust across all of its programmatic areas, including Knowledge & Influence?

Organizational Structure and Capabilities: Women’s World Banking would like the consultant to assess existing capabilities within the organization as well as address how to fill skill gaps if any. Having the right organizational structure will be a pre-requisite to successfully delivering on the strategy and recommended business model(s).

Preferred Qualifications
Women’s World Banking is seeking a strategy consulting firm with the following expertise and experience:

  • Experience in conducting strategic evaluations and assessing development impacts
  • A professional team comprised of business strategists or a combination of business and social sector strategists
  • Strong understanding of financial inclusion including digital financial services in emerging markets, current and future trends at a global level
  • Ability to tap into own network of professionals within the financial inclusion community and the private sector to share relevant and applicable learnings (e.g.: technology, business model etc.)
  • Previous experience and proven results in supporting organizations in developing and delivering on strategies for growth, including the supporting business model
  • Experience in business model evaluation and development
  • Ability to interact with and facilitate result-oriented sessions with board, senior management and staff

Phase 1 is expected to begin at the end of Q1 calendar year 2016 for a period of 6 to 8 weeks followed immediately by Phase 2, which is expected to be finalized by the end of August 2016.

The consultancy will take place in New York at Women’s World Banking’s headquarters. No field travel is anticipated.

Women’s World Banking Staffing
Women’s World Banking will dedicate two full-time staff to this project, including the Chief Strategy Officer and a Strategy Specialist, while assigning the CEO, other staff, and Board Trustees and Directors as necessary.

To Apply
Applications must be received no later than January 22, 2016. Proposals must cleary indicate which of the components the candidate will be addressing and must include a proposed approach, a summary of qualifications, references, and a budget/rate proposal. If a candidate would like to bring in partners to co-deliver the project, please clearly outline the roles and responsibilities. Candidates will be shortlisted, and each shortlisted candidate will have the opportunity to present their proposal in-person to the Executive Leadership Team of Women’s World Banking. A final decision is expected by the end of January.

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Candidates may submit questions in writing to Please include in the email subject line: “Questions: Strategy Evaluation and Design.”

This RFP does not guarantee or commit Women’s World Banking to proceeding with the above described work. Due to the overwhelming responses not all candidates will be contacted.

Women’s World Banking is an equal employment opportunity for all regardless of race, color, citizenship, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, veteran or reservist status or any other category protected by federal, state or local law.


Q: In order to scope the project appropriately, it would be helpful to understand the approximate budget available.  Is there a budget range that WWB could share for this work?
A: We are unable to share this information at this time.

Q: How open is Women’s World Banking to delivery on a different timetable than what is proposed in the RFP?
A: We need to have a completed evaluation of the current strategy and the new strategic plan in place by August 2016. If a different timetable will allow us to meet these deliverables, we are open to considering it.

Q: Are there dates to work around or key meetings that would be helpful to know when drafting the project’s work plan (e.g., board meeting for which materials need to be prepared)?
A: Board meetings take place once a quarter.

Q: Who is the audience of the evaluation and strategy (e.g., internal, public, etc.)?
A: Internal and funders.

Q: Are the previous strategy documents or the institutional dashboard available for review in order for us to scope the assessment appropriately?
A: Not at this time, although the team is available for a conversation.

Q: Are there any lessons learned from the previous strategic planning process that could help inform the design of our approach?
A: (i) engage the right people and the right number (ii) leverage your own network beyond what Women’s World Banking has access to (iii) have strong knowledge of trends in the financial inclusion sector (iv) be prepared to challenge management to yield the best possible outcomes.

Q: To ensure we incorporate all Women’s World Banking staffing appropriately in the work plan:

a) Are there specific roles/activities already envisaged by the two full-time staff from Women’s World Banking (beyond overseeing the process) or shall we include proposals for how to engage those staff members within our approach?
b) Who will be involved in key decisions and deliverable sign-off – anyone beyond the two core team members?
c)  What is the expected engagement level of the Board?

A: a) We are open to suggestions on how to engage Women’s World Banking staff. b) The CEO and Executive Leadership Team will also be involved. c) Some of the Board members are part of a steering committee; the final strategy is presented to the entire Board.

Q: Is the team expected to operate out of Women’s World Banking’s New York office all the time until the project closure or can we propose methodology where we can work with onsite and offsite combination with few visits to the office?
A: You may propose a combination of onsite and offsite work.

Q: We understand that Women’s World Banking currently reaches 14 million women and has aspirations to scale/extend reach in a significant way. What are your growth/reach targets? Is the goal ultimately to reach the 1.1 billion unbanked and underbanked women? If so, over what time horizon?
A: We are open to suggestions on the time horizon. The target numbers have not been finalized.

Q: The RFP references a conscious shift in the approach to improve the organizational ability to reach scale; what was behind this shift from product innovation and testing towards reaching scale defined as the number of clients reached with financial products and services and through the knowledge and influence agenda?
A: Women’s World Banking is well-positioned internally and the externally. The market opportunity exists.

Q: Who are your most significant strategic, and delivery partners? (E.g. Wharton School and Creative Metier for Leadership and Diversity Programs)?
A: Please review our website for more information.

Q: Could you share a copy of the 2014-2016 Strategic Plan, and the accompanying institutional dashboard developed as part of the strategy?
A: Our Monitoring & Evaluation indicators are available on our website.

Q: Is the expectation that one of key outputs of the project is the next 3 year 2017-2020 strategy?
A: Yes, but we are open to suggestions on the timeframe.

Q: Does Women’s World Banking have a suggested number of references?
A: Please provide 3 references along with contact information for each.