So you want to switch from DfID grants to contracts

By Molly Anders 14 April 2017

DfID staff member unloads supplies to help with the construction of a treatment center in Sierra Leone. Photo by: DfID / CC BY-NC

Commercial contracting isn’t anything new, but in the past decade, donors such as the U.K. Department for International Development, the European Commission, the U.S. Agency for International Development and others have steadily increased the pool of funds available through contracts, and this shift hasn’t gone unnoticed by those delivery partners — typically nonprofits — dependent on traditional grants.

Sometimes offering larger budgets and longer program cycles, commercial contracts are traditionally offered to for-profit suppliers, firms such as Adam Smith International and PwC, for example, but that tide is shifting also.

Haniya Dar-Tobin, a commercial contracts consultant at Hamilton Verney specializes in guiding international nongovernmental organizations as they break into the contract space. Speaking to Devex after a panel discussion at the 2017 Bond Annual Conference in London, Dar-Tobin said NGOs are increasingly making the switch. She said while the prospect, not to mention competition, “may seem scary” at first, the processes for bidding are largely the same for both instruments, and contracts could offer a great incentive to “tighten up” an organization’s internal methods of working.

“[Contracts] provide a degree of flexibility in terms of the approach that’s taken to meet the delivery requirements by DfID, and they also allow a degree of control over the budget,” Dar-Tobin told participants gathered at the 2017 Bond Annual Conference.

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About the author

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Molly Andersmollyanders_dev

Molly is a global development reporter for Devex. Based in London, she covers U.K. foreign aid and trends in international development. She draws on her experience covering aid legislation and the USAID implementer community in Washington, D.C., as well as her time as a Fulbright Fellow and development practitioner in the Middle East to develop stories with insider analysis.


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