Back Research Consultant

  • Added Date: Friday, 12 January 2018
  • Deadline Date: Thursday, 25 January 2018

UNCDF is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 47 least developed countries (LDCs). With its capital mandate and instruments, UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development.

UNCDF’s financing models work through two channels: financial inclusion that expands the opportunities for individuals, households, and small businesses to participate in the local economy, providing them with the tools they need to climb out of poverty and manage their financial lives; and localized investments that show how fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance can drive public and private funding that underpins local economic expansion and sustainable development.

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the SDGs call for more resources to be mobilized to fill the SDG financing gap. Many development actors are increasing the amount of public and philanthropic concessional funding they are dedicating to catalyze additional commercial investments into development projects. Much of the focus of research to date is in effect looking at how blended finance is being deployed in middle income countries, though it is not always clear what the potential of blended finance is, and how or under what conditions or in which sectors or localities it can best be applied, in least developed countries (LDCs) contexts. Examining such questions and filling data and evidence gaps are increasingly important as blended finance plays a growing role in helping countries mobilize the resources they need to meet the SDGs. Indeed, while ODA is often the largest source of eternal finance in LDCs, leveraging effectively those and other resources is highly relevant in order to get finance flowing to where it is needed most and as LDCs seek to tackle their development challenges and overcome the various constraints they face in mobilizing the resources they need.

Starting in 2018, UNCDF will prepare a series of knowledge products on the application of blended finance in the LDCs, with a specific focus on the application of this type of finance at the local level. Through these knowledge products, UNCDF aims to a) contribute to the policy debate on blended finance by developing empirical evidence and original research on how blended finance is being and can be used in LDCs to mitigate risk and attract investment for the SDGs and b) create a community of practice that can help shape the actions of investors and practitioners with regard to how the risks and opportunities of applying blended finance at the local level in LDCs are seen. Indeed, many stakeholders are wary of investing in LDCs in general, given concerns over absorptive capacity, risk, low returns, and sustainability.  The risk then is that resources will continue to be allocated in ways that entrench exclusions and inequalities between and within countries rather than overcoming them.

The first knowledge product will be launched in summer 2018, providing an overview of the landscape of how blended finance is currently being deployed in LDCs. This report will be followed by additional knowledge products on specific topics and themes related to UNCDF’s core areas of competence– eg clean energy or municipal finance. This focus on specific themes will help bring out details on which tools, instruments, and types of institutions work best in which settings and sectors and why.

Duties and Responsibilities

Informed decision-making on the potential role of blended finance in LDCs requires data and evidence. At present, judgments on the usefulness of blended finance in LDCs, let alone the so-called last mile in LDCs, are hampered by the quality and consistency of data available on such investments.

The first report on blended finance in the LDCs aims to help fill this data and evidence gap. It also aims to respond to the following overarching question: What are conditions that make blended finance an appropriate instrument in the development toolbox to mobilize commercial investments for sustainable development in the LDCs? To this end, the report will be guided by the following questions:

  • How is blended finance currently being applied in LDCs – which countries, sectors, themes? What is ticket size of projects being funded this way? Who are the main players?
  • What are the unique opportunities, challenges and risks to designing and applying blended finance solutions in the LDCs to achieve the SDGs? How important is concessionality to counter higher perceived risk and attract private capital)?  What are the context and risk factors, if any, that make the application of blended finance different in LDCs than in MICs?
  • How is blended finance addressing these challenges? How does blended finance vary by country of theme or sector?  What sort of partnerships are being created? What volumes of resources are involved? How are blended finance deals being absorbed by institutions and the private sector in LDCs? What are the specific challenges linked to specific sectors and projects?
  • How can the instruments, vehicles and structures that are being deployed be tailored to specific challenges linked to specific sectors?
  • How can blended finance support the development of the private sector and local markets? What is being done or can be done to ensure that risks and rewards between public and private actors are shared fairly? What role can blended finance play in unlocking resources from domestic sources, such as local banks and pension funds, and support their ability to absorb risks?

For this first report, UNCDF is looking to collaborate with established players in the field of blended finance and to work with a wide range of relevant actors, building where appropriate on other research underway or about to be completed, in order to ensure that it is adding value; maximizing visibility of the end product; avoid duplication with research already planned by others; and generating wider buy-in for the end product. These partnerships may or may not continue for any subsequent report; any partnerships for further reports will be renewed or developed as relevant to the specific topic at hand.

UNCDF is looking to recruit an international consultant to support and contribute to the development of the first knowledge product on blended finance in LDCs. By responding to the overarching question - “what are conditions that make blended finance an appropriate instrument to mobilize commercial investments for sustainable development in the LDCs?” -  the report aims to contribute evidence and knowledge on the application of blended finance in the LDCs. It will include three main sections: an overview of blended finance in the LDCs with an analysis of data and contextual factors; a sample of key case studies which illustrate different ways of applying blended finance and the use of different instruments; and external contributions (op-ed style pieces) from key players in the field.

UNCDF is looking to collaborate with established players in the field of blended finance and to work with a wide range of relevant actors.

The consultant will work under the supervision of the policy cluster in the Partnership, Policy and Communication (PPC) unit of UNCDF, and will interact closely with other key contributors to the knowledge product as well as the key actors in the area of blended finance.

The consultant will perform the following major tasks:

  • Review relevant literature and data and conduct research on blended finance in the LDCs as necessary;
  • Contribute to the development of the methodological and analytical framework of the report;
  • Help draft the first chapter of the knowledge product – on data and context – by incorporating the various inputs provided by the different key contributors and bringing the different aspects of the analysis together in a coherent manner and providing initial conclusions;
  • Coordinate and review inputs and incorporate feedback from other key contributors and peer reviewers, including those contributing opinion pieces;
  • Help develop the methodology for the case studies, and support the preparation of one case study focused on a UNCDF blended finance project;
  • Help prepare and organize expert group meetings and other meetings that will accompany the process of preparing the report.
  • Assist with other research and tasks as needed to support the preparation of the report.

The consultant will work under the direct supervision of the UNCDF Policy Adviser and Policy Specialist, and will remain in regular contact with the Policy Adviser on progress made, providing weekly updates.

The consultant will work full-time work from the UNCDF offices.  He/she will have access to the relevant UNCDF programme and other documents; the Policy Adviser can assist in this regard.

The consultant will need to conduct his/her own research as well as (telephonic) interviews as required. No mission travel is envisaged for this assignment.

Payment will be made via two, all-inclusive lump sums. 50% of the payment will be made after 25 days of work (of satisfactory quality) and supporting documents (e.g. timesheet, invoice).  

The balance of payment (50%) will be made upon completion of the remaining 25 days of the assignment once all agreed outstanding deliverables are completed to a satisfactory quality.


Functional competencies:

  • Knowledge of development finance, and in blended finance is desirable;
  • Demonstrated skills in knowledge management;
  • Demonstrated research and analytical capacity; 
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • Proven ability to manage complex tasks and to deliver quality products on time;
  • Able to take initiative and work independently;
  • Ability to demonstrate understanding of client's perspective;
  • Ability to keep clients informed of problems or delays in the provision of services;
  • Ability to identify strategic lessons through analyzing programme activities.

Corporate Competencies:

  • Demonstrates integrity by modeling the UN’s values and ethical standards;
  • Promotes the vision, mission, and strategic goals of UNCDF;
  • Ability to get things done on time and of high quality;
  • Ability to think creatively and to listen and learn;
  • Projects a positive image and is ready to take on a wide range of tasks;
  • Welcomes constructive feedback.

Required Skills and Experience


Minimum post-graduate degree in the field of public administration, economics, development, finance, business or public administration, or related field.


  • 7 + years professional experience in the areas of public finance, development finance, private investment and/or innovative financial instruments is required;
  • Demonstrated understanding of substantive policy issues in the field of development finance, economic and development cooperation particularly in the Africa and/or Asia regions;
  • Specialized knowledge of blended finance;
  • Ability to substantiate previous experience in drafting successful studies of a similar nature.


  • Fluency in English. Knowledge of another UN language desirable.

Evaluation of Applications:

The candidates will be evaluated through the Cumulative Analysis method. The award of the contract will be made to the individual consultant whose offer has been evaluated and determined as:

  • Responsive/compliant/acceptable;
  • Having received the highest score out of a pre-determined set of weighted technical and financial criteria specific to the solicitation;
  • Technical Criteria: weight 70%; and
  • Financial Criteria weight 30%.

Only candidates obtaining a minimum of 49 points in the technical evaluation would be considered for Financial Evaluation.
Technical Evaluation Criteria (Total 70 marks):

  • At least seven years of experience in conducting or overseeing research at the international level, plus prior experience carrying out original analytical or case study work on development finance (20 marks);
  • Minimum 7 years of experience working on issues of development finance, including blended finance (25 marks);
  • Technical Approach & Methodology in response to the TOR (10 marks) – This explain the understanding of the objectives of the assignment, approach to the services, methodology for carrying out the activities and obtaining the expected output, and the degree of detail of such output.
  • Work Plan (15 marks) – The Applicant should propose the main activities of the assignment, their content and duration, milestones (including interim approvals by the Client). The proposed work plan should be consistent with the technical approach and methodology, showing understanding of the TOR and ability to translate them into a feasible working plan.

Financial Evaluation (Total 30 marks):

  • All technical qualified proposals will be scored out 30 based on the formula provided below. The maximum points (30) will be assigned to the lowest financial proposal. Lump sum amounts must be all inclusive. The contract price is fixed regardless of changes in the cost of components.


If there is any approved travel, UNCDF will pay separately travel expenses (economy airfare, terminal expenses and per diems which include hotel and food expenses) according to standard UN rates based on evidence of approved and actual travel.

Application Guidelines

  •     Interested candidate should submit the following information as part of the application package:
  •     When applying for this consultancy position, please apply with your official name as shown in the government issued identification document (e.g. passport and/or driver license). Contract award is subject to this verification;
  •     Detailed updated CV including past experience in similar projects or P11 link:;
  •     Cover letter explaining why you are the most suitable candidate for the advertised position. Please paste the letter into the "Resume and Motivation" section of the electronic application;
  •     Confirmation of availability to take up assignments for the whole period;
  •     Three professional references including name, affiliation and email addresses;
  •     Financial proposals will be requested only from the shortlisted candidates.

Individual Consultants are responsible for ensuring they have vaccinations/inoculations when traveling to certain countries, as designated by the UN Medical Director. Consultants are also required to comply with the UN security directives set forth under


UNDP’s Individual Consultant’s General Terms and Conditions are provided here:

This vacancy is archived.

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