NGOs doing business with ADB: Opportunities and challenges

The Asian Development Bank headquarters in Manila, Philippines. Photo by: AndreaADB / CC BY-SA

MANILA — More than 2,000 nongovernmental organizations are registered in the Asian Development Bank’s consultant management system. But in 2017, only 15 consultancy contracts were awarded to NGOs. Add in the projects in which subcontracts were awarded to NGOs, and the total hits 24.

These numbers tell a very bleak picture in terms of the scale of NGOs’ engagement with ADB when it comes to business opportunities. And it raises the question of why?

There are many factors involved. But one of the main reasons that emerged during the ADB’s business opportunities fair last month is NGOs’ general lack of awareness and information when it comes to ADB processes and ways of working. Take, for example, NGO entry points for funding. Traditional bilateral donors often have specific funding facilities or special funds for civil society. But ADB doesn’t have one.

“This is one of the things that continue to surprise our NGO participants who are looking for a special fund where NGOs could submit a proposal,” said Elaine Thomas, sector specialist for ADB’s Southeast Asia social sector division. “When NGOs come to ADB, many still have this same approach that they would, for example, [with] DFID, or the World Bank civil society fund, and others that specifically have money allocated for civil society.”

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.