Request for Proposals: Consultancy Services for Startup Business Support Services

RFP Number:        


Issuance Date:  


Deadline for Offers:



Consultancy Services for Startup Business Support Services

Moldova ICT Excellence Center Project

Funded By:

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Government of Sweden, Contract No. AID-117-A-15-00002

Issued By:

National Association of ICT Companies (ATIC)

Point of Contact:, contact person Maria Nemciuc


Please find the full RFP here


1.1 Acronyms and Definitions

ATIC National Association of ICT Companies
ADS USAID Automated Directives System
CFR United States Code of Federal Regulations
Cooperating Country Moldova
FAR United States Federal Acquisition Regulation
RFP Request for Proposals
US United States
USAID United States Agency for International Development
USG United States Government
VAT Value Added Tax

1.2 Introduction

The National Association of ICT Companies (ATIC) is soliciting proposals from eligible and responsible firms to offer consulting services as described in the Annex 1.

The ICTEC Project is a USAID program implemented by the National Association of ICT Companies (ATIC). The project will be implemented as a private-public partnership (though Global Development Alliances instrument (GDA)), between the Moldovan Government, private industry, academia and donors. The private partners include multinational companies, IBM and Microsoft, and Moldovan Association of ICT Companies (ATIC) members that are local (operated) ICT companies. The private partners will bring significant new resources, ideas, software, technologies and development activities, such as trainings, practical assignments, and mentorship. The private sector partners will have the chance to use the center to communicate with the university, SMEs, startups, professionals and contribute to the curricula improvement answering the market needs, as well as the improvement of the IT and entrepreneurship ecosystem that will lead to the economic growth of the country. The Government of Moldova supports this project at the highest level of the Prime Minister, and the partners include Ministry of ICT, Ministry of Education, and E-Government Center. The space will be provided by the Technical University, as part of the Government commitment to this project. The e-Government Center will use the center as a training and capacity building resource for the public e-transformation and IT managers.

The first phase of the project represented a USAID grant for Development matched by both cash and in-kind contributions of private and government partners that brought significant new resources, ideas, software, technologies and development activities, such as trainings, practical assignments, and mentorship. Private partners included multinational companies, IBM and Microsoft, but also Information Technology and Communications Association (ATIC) members that are local Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies, while among government partners Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure, Ministry of Education, Culture and Research, e-Government Center and Technical University have provided their support. The Technical University of Moldova is hosting the first Center on its premises and has jointly invested resources for initial investment and maintenance costs during the startup phase.

The next phase of the project is envisaged to fortify the existing Tekwill’s capacity, create linkages with other universities and expand the activities to a national level. New activities are planned to transform Tekwill into a strategic focal point for Moldova in relation to boosting Creativity, innovation and growth in the ICT sector. The Government of Moldova envisages the creation of a network of mini Tekwills around Chisinau and around the country, keeping all main stakeholders (academia, private sector, donors, government) in the loop aiming to reach  a high impact on the economy as a whole. Few more universities are seeking to be part of this initiative, which involves private sector and development partners in modernization of the curricular content, as well as the Ministry of Education is opened to promote the optional programs developed by Tekwill to be accessible in schools under a Tekwill in every school program. Each program will be designed and developed being adapted to the context of the region, school, university involved in the process. The programs will be all inclusive aiming at involving different target groups such as children, women, students, etc.

One of the Project main directions relates to ENTREPRENEURSHIP ENCOURAGED

The purpose of this component is to ensure instigation of the entrepreneurship community and development of technology startups and products. Apart from delivering value to the ICT industry, startups have a direct impact on the cities they make their homes. Employment opportunities for youth increases and new employment patterns arise. Entrepreneurship will also give local youth new opportunities to pursue and retain the talent in the country.

The purpose of this component is to ensure instigation of the entrepreneurship community and development of technology startups and products.
Tekwill will continue to play an active role in defining and designing the proper IT entrepreneurship Ecosystem. It will serve as a meeting, idea sharing, and experience sharing platform connecting ideas to people and to financing. The first set of offerings are planned to be entrepreneurial education programs and events (such as hackathons encouraging innovative thinking and new product development), followed by business acceleration and funding programs. The Center will assist the startups in attracting additional funding and exiting the country.

1.3 Questions and Requests for Clarifications
Questions regarding the technical or administrative requirements of this RFP may be submitted no later than November 14, 2019, 18:00 local Chisinau time by email to Questions must be submitted in writing; phone calls will not be accepted. Questions and requests for clarification—and the responses thereto—that ATIC believes may be of interest to other offerors will be circulated to all RFP recipients who have indicated an interest in bidding.
Only the written answers issued by ATIC will be considered official and carry weight in the RFP process and subsequent evaluation. Any verbal information received from employees of ATIC or any other entity should not be considered as an official response to any questions regarding this RFP.
1.4 Offer Deadline
Offerors shall submit their expression of interest to participate and propose offers until November 21, 2019 via e-mail to, cc
Offerors shall submit their offers in hard-copy and/or electronically.
Hard copy offers must be received no later than November 21, 2019, 17:00 at the following address: 
In attention of Mrs. Maria Nemciuc
Entrepreneurship Program Manager Str. Studentilor 9/11
Emailed offers must be received by the same time and date at the following address:
In attention of Maria Nemciuc, Entrepreneurship Program Manager
and cc Ana Chirita, Strategic Projects Director
Offerors are responsible for ensuring that their offers are received in accordance with the instructions stated herein. Late offers may be considered at the discretion of ATIC. 
1.5        Protocol for Submission of Offers
  1. Hard Copy Submissions:
Each offeror must submit its proposal in two separate volumes:  The Technical Volume and the Cost Volume.  The following number of copies is required in each submission:
1. Technical and Cost Volume:  Three (3) original hardcopies and one (1) electronic copy on CD of the technical volume, per the instructions below.
2. All offers and related documents must be enclosed in sealed envelopes with the name and address of the offeror and the RFP number (“RFP No. ICTEC-2019-008”) clearly marked on the outside.  The Technical Volume and the Cost Volume must be submitted together.   If multiple envelopes must be submitted due to the size of a proposal, offerors must ensure that each envelope is sealed and clearly marked with the information described above.
B. Electronic Submissions:
The Offeror must submit the proposal electronically with attachments compatible with MS Word, Excel, or Adobe Portable Document (PDF) format in a Microsoft environment. Those pages requiring original manual signatures should be scanned and sent in PDF format as an email attachment.
All offers must be prepared in English, Romanian or Russian.
1.5.1     Technical and Cost Volume
1.5.1     Technical Volume
The Technical Volume should describe in detail the offeror’s proposed plan for providing the services and commodities described in the technical specifications found in Annex 1. It should demonstrate a clear understanding of the work to be undertaken and the responsibilities of all parties involved. The plan should include details on equipment, personnel, and subcontractors that the offeror will make available to carry out the required activities. The plan should also provide details on the anticipated delivery schedule, including an estimated completion date.
At a minimum, the Technical Volume must contain the following required completed documents:
For Consulting companies:
1. Letter of Transmittal (see Section 3)
2. Offeror’s Summary Sheet (see Section 4)
3. Completed/Signed Certifications (see Section 5).
4. Past Performance Information (free form)
5. Copy of official registration or business license
7. CV of Team Members planned to be assigned
Subcontracting arrangements:  If the execution of work to be performed by the offeror requires the hiring of subcontractors, the proposal must clearly identify the subcontractor(s), contact information of subcontractor(s), and the work they will perform.  ATIC will not refuse a proposal based upon the use of subcontractors; however, ATIC retains the right to approve or reject the specific subcontractors selected.
All electronic copies of documents in the Technical Volume must be in PDF, Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel format.  
The information contained in the Technical Volume should not contain any cost- or price-related information.
1.5.2     Cost Volume
Taking into consideration the complexity of the work, the cost proposal is used to determine which proposals represent the best value and serves as a basis of negotiation before award of a subcontract.
It should offer a clear understanding upon the amount of work, different types of activities (if applicable), but offer a fixed price for the assignment considering all details.
In case the Offeror’s cost proposal exceeds the equivalent of USD 50.000, the Offeror shall provide a bank guarantee in amount of 10% per model in annex No.3 below. The bank guarantee must be annexed to Cost Volume.
The cost proposal shall also include a budget narrative that explains the basis for the estimate of every cost element or line item. Supporting information must be provided in enough detail to allow for a complete analysis of each cost element or line item. ATIC reserves the right to request additional cost information if the evaluation committee has concerns of the reasonableness, realism, or completeness of an offeror’s proposed cost.
The agreement under which this procurement is financed does not permit the financing of any taxes, VAT, tariffs, duties, or other levies imposed by any laws in effect in the Cooperating Country. No such Cooperating Country taxes, charges, tariffs, duties or levies will be paid under an order resulting from this RFP.
1.6        Validity Period
Offers must remain valid for at least 60 calendar days after the offer deadline.
1.7        Authorized USAID Geographic Code and Source/Nationality
All goods and services offered in response to this RFP or supplied under any resulting award must meet USAID Geographic Code 935 in accordance with the United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), 22 CFR §228, available at: 
The cooperating country for this RFP is Moldova.
Offerors may not offer or supply any commodities or related services that are manufactured or assembled in, shipped from, transported through, or otherwise involving any of the following countries: Burma (Myanmar), Cuba, Iran, North Korea, (North) Sudan, Syria.  Related services include incidental services pertaining to any/all aspects of this work to be performed under a resulting subcontract (including transportation, fuel, lodging, meals, and communications expenses).
1.8        Eligibility of Offerors
By submitting an offer in response to this RFP, the offeror certifies that it and its principal officers are not debarred, suspended, or otherwise considered ineligible for an award. ATIC will not award a contract to any firm that is debarred, suspended, or considered to be ineligible.
1.9        Evaluation and Basis for Award
An or multiple awards will be made to the offeror whose proposal is determined to be responsive to this solicitation document, meets the eligibility criteria stated in this RFP, meets the technical, management/personnel, and corporate capability requirements, and is determined to represent the best value to ATIC. Best value will be decided using the tradeoff process.
This RFP will use the tradeoff process to determine best value. That means that each proposal will be evaluated and scored against the evaluation criteria and evaluation sub-criteria, which are stated in the table below. Cost proposals are not assigned points, but for overall evaluation purposes of this RFP, technical evaluation factors other than cost, when combined, are considered approximately equal to cost factors. If technical scores are determined to be equal or nearly equal, cost will become the determining factor.
In evaluating proposals, ATIC will use the following evaluation criteria and sub-criteria: 
Evaluation Criteria
Evaluation Sub-criteria
Maximum points
20 points
20 points
Past performance information
20 points
Overall cost proposal provided
40 points
Total Points – Technical and Cost Approach                                   100 points

This RFP utilizes the tradeoff process set forth in FAR 15.101-1. ATIC will award a subcontract to the offeror whose proposal represents the best value to ATIC. ATIC may award to a higher priced offeror if a determination is made that the higher technical evaluation of that offeror merits the additional cost/price.
1.10      Negotiations
Best and final price quotations are requested from all offerors. It is anticipated that awards will be made solely on the basis of these original quotations. However, ATIC reserves the right to conduct negotiations and/or request clarifications prior to awarding a subcontract. 
1.11      Terms and Conditions of Subcontract
This is a Request for Proposals only. Issuance of this RFP does not in any way obligate ATIC or USAID to award a subcontract, nor does it commit ATIC or USAID to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of a proposal.
This solicitation is subject to the Draft Order Terms and Conditions detailed in Section 2. Any resultant award will be governed by these terms and conditions. ATIC reserves the right to make revisions to the content, order, and numbering of the provisions in the actual subcontract document prior to execution by ATIC and the selected awardee. Issuance of a subcontract award is subject to availability of sufficient funds.
Section 2. Background, Scope of Work, Deliverables and Deliverable Schedule
2.1      Technical Specifications
As specified in Annex 1, ATIC is looking to subcontract one or several companies to deliver consulting services as stated in Annex 1 (Specifications).
2.2        Delivery Requirements
The delivery location for the items described in this RFP is ICTEC, str. Studentilor 9/11.  As part of its response to this RFP, each offeror is expected to provide an estimate (in calendar days) of the delivery and execution timeframe (after receipt of order). The delivery estimate presented in an offer in response to this RFP must be upheld in the performance of any resulting contract.
The delivery estimate presented in any offers in response to this RFP must be honest, accurate, and upheld in the performance of any resulting subcontract or order.
2.3         Past Performance
In the Technical Volume, all offers should include information for client references for similar technical activities or commodities supplied.
The information supplied must include a brief description of the work performed. If the Offeror encountered problems in carrying out any of these contracts, it should provide an explanation of the problem encountered and describe any corrective action taken.
ATIC reserves the right to obtain past performance information obtained from sources other than those identified by the offeror. ATIC shall determine the relevance of similar past performance information.
Annex 1: Detailed Specifications and Requirements                                                                                                                         
Over the past 3 years of the project, within the Tekwill project, ATIC has aimed to support tech only startups and encourage entrepreneurship initiatives aiming at boosting and fostering the development of the startup ecosystem in Moldova as a whole. With the support of USAID and Government of Sweden, within the Tekwill project, ATIC has provided assistance to over 300 different teams, and organized over 300 initiatives in the area of entrepreneurship.
Based on accrued data regarding local startups needs, it was identified that startups are in need for operational and consulting support during the early stage of their development. The founders lack of knowledge in all the fields of business activity slow down the startup growth, thus limiting the chances of success. In order to offset the risks associated to founders’ mistakes, ATIC concluded that is necessary to facilitate the creation of an incubation program.
The incubation program will lead to incorporation of up to 10 companies and will provide training & mentorship for startup development. It is sought that the newly established companies will achieve product market fit and will generate sales during the incubation process, thus validating their business models.
Taking into account that in order to achieve sustainability and impact, the act of designing and implementing the incubation program is a complex and challenging task, ATIC seeks an independent consultant/consulting company, that will serve as an incubation partner to the selected startups.
The assignment is expected to take place in Moldova and cover the following iterations:
1. Design and propose a strategic approach an incubation roadmap for 10 startups that will consider the following inquiries: the incubation period per startup must be at least 4 months, only 5 startups can be incubated during a 4-month period. The approach should include details regarding the type of expertise given to startups (ex: legal/accounting/sales/marketing), number of hours invested, timeframe of activities, the expert team that will work with the selected startups.
2. Propose a mechanism/campaign to attract and select best candidates for the incubation process.
3. Incubate 10 startups taking into consideration the most critical areas of engagement for each startup in part. 
4. Deliver a half-way report after the first incubation period with the achieved results and lessons learned. Deliver a final report that will review the evidence of the undertaken activities and achieved results.
5. Provide screening of startup needs based in depth startup assessment;
6. Provide in house or attracted expertise for startup assistance;
The following criteria must be met by the selected startups:
       The startup can be either incorporated or not (a team composed of individuals that are seeing potential in creating a real company);
       In case of incorporation, the yearly revenue of the startup for the last fiscal year must not exceed 50.000 USD;
       The founding team must not exceed more than 3 people;
       The startup idea is either technology driven OR based on an innovative business model;
       Preferred business model: B2B, SaaS.
       The team needs assistance in setting-up the sales, marketing and finance processes;
       Clear evidence of startup potential for scaling up internationally;
       Signed commitment from each of the founding member of the startup to dedicate full time during the incubation process.
The eligibility criteria for the independent consultant/consulting company:
       The consultant/consulting company must prove capacity in undergoing startup consulting and incubation activities;
       Present at least 3 referral letters from their startup clients;
       The consultant will dedicate the necessary amount of time according to the accepted roadmap and startup needs.

1. Incubation roadmap (Curricula, Agenda, Experts);
2. Report on Startup scouting strategy;
3. Incubation of startups according to the proposed roadmap;
4. Half-way report on the results of first batch of startups (5);
5. Final Report concluding upon impact of the Program;
6. Tentative budget of implementation;
7. Proposed team behind the implementation of the incubation program.
8. Other, in case determined to reach a maximum impact.
The selected organization/independent consultant is expected to present regular reports including progress, impact and success of the program..
All interested candidates (consultants and consulting companies) are expected to have prior experience in business support activities, consultancy, market research; IT market knowledge would be considered a plus.
Submission of the proposal:
The proposal should include a narrative description of the concept, provide a full overview on how the targets for improving the businesses of the startups will be improved, present clear evidence of on board or attracted team members with extensive expertise in various areas (legal, finance, business, marketing, other), present a clear breakdown of the costs for various items, as well as provide any evidence of possibility for cofinancing (investment money, marketing, any other).
Multiple candidates might be selected for this assignement.