Individual Consultant – Research Consultant (For Indian Nationals Only)

This opening expired 1 year ago.

UNCDF - United Nations Capital Development Fund

Open positions at UNCDF
Logo of UNCDF

Application deadline 1 year ago: Monday 22 Mar 2021 at 23:59 UTC

Open application form


This is a National Consultant contract. More about National Consultant contracts.


UNCDF is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 47 Least Developed Countries (LDCs). UNCDF uses its capital mandate to support LDCs pursue inclusive growth. UNCDF promotes financial inclusion, also through digital financial services (DFS), as a key enabler of poverty reduction and inclusive growth; and it demonstrates how localizing finance outside the capital cities can accelerate growth in local economies, promote sustainable and climate-resilient infrastructure development, and empower local communities. Using capital grants, loans and credit enhancements, UNCDF tests financial models in inclusive finance and local development finance; ‘de-risks’ the local investment space; and provides proofs of concept, paving the way for larger and more risk-averse investors.

Recently, UNCDF has formulated its strategy ‘Leaving No One Behind in the Digital Era’ based on over a decade of experience in digital finance in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. UNCDF recognizes that reaching the full potential of digital financial inclusion in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aligns with the vision of promoting digital economies that leaves no one behind. The vision of UNCDF is to empower millions of people by 2024 to use services daily that leverage innovation and technology and contribute to the SDGs. Please refer to the link for further information: UNCDF’S Work in Financial Health

Significant progress has been made in financial inclusion, but some problems persist, indicating that financial inclusion is a useful but narrow lens. More than 1.2 billion people have financial accounts since 2011 (Global Findex); historically disenfranchised groups use a range of products from savings to credit, and countries and governments now have national financial inclusion strategies. Yet, most of this success derives from “first-level access”–the use of basic accounts or payments products. In some cases, financial inclusion has led to unintended but pernicious effects such as over-indebtedness through easy access to digital credit. The effects of financial inclusion on people’s welfare is mixed, and where these effects are positive, they are rather modest. Financial inclusion has also failed to reach all people equally with women, youth and microenterprises still experiencing account ownership, usage and funding gaps.

Financially Included but not Financially Healthy

A few studies have examined the correlation between financial inclusion and financial health, and the results have not been encouraging. A study by the US-focused Financial Health Network conducted in 2019 shows that only 29% of Americans are financially healthy despite a (pre-COVID-19) booming economy and near-universal financial inclusion1. Similarly, while financial inclusion in Kenya increased from 75% to 83% between 2016 and 2019, the percentage of adults deemed financially healthy declined from 39% to 22% in the same period2. Gallup’s study indicated that there is no clear relationship between account ownership and financial security in low- and middle-income countries3.

In the development community, there is a general consensus that the ultimate objective of financial inclusion is to improve lives through creating financial security and increasing control over finances, for example. Yet we might need to pause and reflect on what constitutes “improving lives”.

Financial health as an approach offers a way forward.

Financial health is not the next panacea but offers a larger, more comprehensive perspective to define, create and measure impact. By definition, financial health encompasses three important aspects of an individual’s financial life: financial security and resilience, financial control and financial freedom. The following definition of financial health captures these dimensions:

  • The ability to meet one’s ongoing commitments, now and in the future, and under adverse circumstances (financial security). The ability to meet one’s commitments during adverse conditions, sustain oneself through it, and reorient one’s financial life once those conditions cease is termed as financial resilience;
  • A feeling of control of one’s finances (financial control); and
  • The ability to meet one’s financial goals and enjoy things one values (financial freedom).

Financial health is an improved approach over financial inclusion for many reasons. For one, financial health is more user-centric in that it accounts for both objective and subjective ways to define impact, embodying the principle that impact can mean different things to different people and is best defined by individuals themselves. Financial health also measures what matters. While transactional indicators remain relevant, the perceptive indicators of financial health such as the ability to come up with liquid funds offer a more nuanced view of an individual’s financial life. Financial health also recognizes that a whole range of factors are at play as it relates to people’s financial lives, from individual characteristics such as income and assets to environmental factors such as social capital and public infrastructure.

The Centre for Financial Health and Living Labs

To build a shared understanding of financial health and operationalize an outcomes-focused approach, UNCDF is shaping a global and regional coalition of public and private sector actors to steer a transition to financial health-focused initiatives. This coalition would be hosted by UNCDF through the Centre for Financial Health. The Centre will act as a convening platform bringing together global, regional and local actors committed to using financial and digital solutions to improve the financial lives of low-income families. This will include tools and advisory support, an environment for collaboration and high-quality evidence and insights to move the needle on operationalizing financial health. Through its convening function, the Centre will create space for thought leadership that identifies and advocates for best financial health practices and models to be shared and adopted by the financial sector, both public and private.

While the Centre convenes stakeholders to share and collaborate, its operational offshoots, or Living Labs will test, pilot and scale financial health solutions for a range of customer types in a range of settings. These Living Labs–the first one launched in Odisha, India–will generate field evidence on what works and what doesn’t, while also unravelling how something that works (or does not work) influences financial health outcomes for customers. In other words, Living Labs will follow a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation approach that asks the whole gamut of questions, including “What works?”; Why it works?”; “How it works?”; and “For Whom does it work (or does not work)?”.

The Odisha Living Lab

Building on the efforts of the Mission Shakti programme, UNCDF has set up the Mission Shakti Living Lab in the state of Odisha that will roll out a suite of financial services to 3.5 million women organized in 600,000 self-help groups (SHGs) in the state4. These women are beneficiaries of livelihood opportunities such as paddy procurement under the Government’s Mission Shakti programme and enjoy access to basic financial accounts. Yet, in order to grow their livelihoods, they need access to a range of financial tools as well as to digital technology. Women’s limited financial literacy, social norms around women’s economic participation and women’s caretaking responsibilities act as barriers to living out their full entrepreneurial potential, that can in turn, enhance their financial health and economic empowerment.

Through the Living Lab, the next frontier is to enable access to digital technology by way of an e-commerce platform that digitizes SHG businesses end-to-end, and a range of financial products and tools such as digital literacy, micro-savings, formal credit that can improve women’s financial well-being and accelerate their economic empowerment. These tools will be designed and delivered with a careful attention to existing social norms, while additional measures will be taken to break down social norms for the communities in Odisha, and influence them in the direction of women’s economic empowerment as much as is possible.

Our Interventions: The Living Lab programme will roll out interventions for women entrepreneurs enrolled in SHGs in two districts: Ganjam and Sambalpur. Both districts are part of the Mission Shakti initiative of the Odisha government. They have predominantly rural populations, with gender gaps in literacy levels and workforce participation. With the Living Lab, the goal is to impact the financial health of 3.5 million women through a suite of financial products and services.

To further its programmatic work through the Living Lab in Odisha, UNCDF has a comprehensive research and learning agenda that examines the following:

  1. Which financial health outcomes do women entrepreneurs in Odisha prioritise and how do they realise them?
  2. Which financial health solutions work for them, and in what context?
  3. What are the pathways through which these solutions work? (For example, increased income, skills, etc.)
  4. What are best practices for financial service providers and other stakeholders in thinking about and working toward the financial health of women entrepreneurs?
  5. How can financial health be measured in robust and feasible ways, by both the private sector and policymakers?

In order to realize its learning agenda, UNCDF seeks the research and technical support of a Research Consultant to:

  1. Conduct research studies with UNCDF’s partners as well as sectoral research on themes relevant to UNCDF’s research and learning agenda.
  2. Provide support in crafting financial health measurement frameworks/metrics.
  3. Play a coordinating role with stakeholders including a research organization to assess impact of financial services on financial health, and draw out meaningful insights on the underlying mechanisms.

Foot Note:

  1. US Financial Health Pulse, Financial Health Network, 2019
  2. Inclusive Finance: Headline Findings from Finaccess 2019, FSD Kenya, 2019
  3. Gallup’s Global Financial Health Study, 2018
  4. A self-help group (SHG), akin to a savings group, is a voluntary group of members that values personal interactions and mutual aid (typically in the form of credit) as a means of altering or ameliorating problems perceived as alterable, pressing and personal by most of its members.

Duties and Responsibilities

Under the technical oversight of the Data and Insights Lead and overall supervision of the Global Manager – Innovations and Financial Health, the Research Consultant will:

  • Conduct research studies with UNCDF’s partners as well as sectoral research on themes relevant to UNCDF’s research and learning agenda.

o Identify research priorities with UNCDF partners, build research projects including research methodology and tools.

o Execute research studies with the support of the data and insights team and project teams, monitor data collection and ensure data quality.

o Assist the human-centric design team in prototyping interventions and testing their effectiveness.

o Update country evidence base with research and sources relevant to financial health and financial services (including digital).

o Set indicators for projects, and track their progress through project cycles.

o Contribute to project, programme and donor reporting including narrative reports.

  • Provide support in crafting financial health measurement frameworks/metrics.

o Support the data and insights team in developing a measurement framework to link financial health metrics to the SDGs in Malaysia. o Support the data and insights team in identifying metrics from demand and supply-side data for measuring financial health of end customers. o Support UNCDF partners–both private and public–to implement financial health measurement tools.

  • Play a coordinating role with stakeholders including a research organization to assess impact of financial services on financial health, and draw out meaningful insights on the underlying mechanisms.

o Support the data and insights team and a potential research organization in sampling, rolling out baseline and endline surveys and conducting qualitative studies at the programme level. o Draw out nuanced insights on how financial services cause financial health outcomes.

The table below shows the detailed activities, deliverables, and corresponding target delivery dates.



Target Completion

Payment terms in % of total contract price

Project-specific research: Research Plans and Methodology

  • Identify UNCDF partner research priorities for projects, draft research plans, research tools and methodology.
  • Conduct formative research to identify local context, stakeholder dynamics and social/cultural norms.

Sectoral research/evidence base:

  • Conduct secondary research on financial health and update country evidence base

  • Project research plans and methodology

  • Formative research report




Project-specific research: Data collection

  • Execute research studies for all partner projects.
  • Ensure data collection and quality.
  • Assist the human-centered design (HCD) team in prototyping and testing solutions, gleaning insights along the way.

  • Raw project transcripts/data sets




Project Measurement Plans:

  • Craft KPIs, and project workbooks for new UNCDF projects.
  • Draft results chains for projects.

Social Norms research:

  • Offer support to external stakeholders in carrying out social norms mapping pertinent to women entrepreneurs in Odisha.

  • Social Norms Report (Draft 1)

  • Project workbooks




Donor reporting:

  • Offer support in drafting six-monthly donor reports.

Research firm coordination:

  • Coordinate with research firm in relation to sampling, baseline data collection and financial diaries execution.
  • Document baseline data.

  • Raw baseline data sets




Publication support:

  • Offer support in crafting learning pieces specific to project insights in Odisha, including contributing to UNCDF’s savings series.

Project tracking:

  • Track all project cycles and submit quarterly reports.

Social norms research:

  • Offer support in developing the social norms diagnostic for Odisha, India.

Research firm coordination:

  • Document financial dairies data

Financial Health Measurement:

  • Provide support in identifying key metrics for financial health measurement.
  • Support UNCDF partners in implementing financial health measurement tools.

  • Project insights - learning pieces

  • Partner quarterly reports
  • Social norms final report
  • Financial diaries data
  • Financial health measurement metrics report and recommendations to partners




Institutional Arrangement Duration: April 2021 – April 2022

Duty Station: Odisha, India with country-based travel, and pre-approved international travel

Total Number of Working Days for Assignment: Max of 220 working days within 12 months

For unforeseeable travel, payment of travel costs including tickets, lodging and terminal expenses should be agreed upon, between the respective business unit and Individual Consultant, prior to travel and will be reimbursed. UNCDF would cover the cost of stay for the selected individual.

Please note that UNCDF cannot guarantee residence permits or visas for consultants. Consultants are responsible for securing their work documentation. In the case of national consultants, applicants that are not nationals of the duty station requested will have to prove their residence status.

Provision of Monitoring, Progress Controls & Payments:

  • The consultant will work under the direct supervision of the Global Manager – Innovations and Financial Health.
  • Payment will be made against satisfactory completion of each deliverable. All payments shall be subject to the clearance and approval of the Global Manager – Innovations and Financial Health.
  • Final payment shall require a signed performance evaluation of the consultant.


  • Excellent organizational, inter-personal and communication skills.
  • Able to work effectively in a team and in an international environment.
  • Excellent skills in research design and technical writing.

Required Skills and Experience

Academic Qualification:

  • A Master’s degree in economics, statistics, public/business administration, social sciences, technology or related discipline.


  • Minimum of three (3) years of experience in conducting research and technical writing to inform strategic decision making in the public or private sector is mandatory.
  • Minimum of one (1) year of experience in conducting socioeconomic research is preferable but not mandatory.
  • Minimum of one (1) year of experience in innovation and technology for inclusive finance.


  • Fluent in English and Hindi.
  • Fluency in Odiya is preferable but not mandatory.

Application Process

Interested individuals must submit the following documents as proposals in order to demonstrate their qualifications. (NOTE: The system does not allow multiple uploads of document. Applicants must make sure to upload all documents in one PDF file.)

All applications must contain the following information:

  • Cover letter with a summary statement of competencies in relation to this Terms of Reference (TOR);
  • Curriculum Vitae and/or Completed and Signed P11-Personal History Form with names and current contacts of three referees (Available at:;

Evaluation Method Applicants will be evaluated based on the following methodology:

  • Preliminary Evaluation - Step I: Screening;
  • Technical Evaluation Weight - 70% x (Step II: Desk review 40 points + Step III: Interview 60 points = 100 Points);
  • Financial Evaluation Weight - 30% (Step IV).

Technically qualified consultants will be requested to submit their daily fee rate and or lumpsum i.e. consultants who score equivalent or more than 70% with respect to the above-mentioned evaluation criteria. Consultant should not specify their consultancy fee on their CV or with the submission. The CV will not be evaluatedfurther in case the consultant submits the same.

Step I: Screening

Applications will be screened and only applicants meeting the following mandatory criteria will progress to the pool for shortlisting:

  • A Master’s degree in economics, statistics, public/business administration, social sciences, technology or related discipline.
  • Minimum of three (3) years of experience in conducting research and technical writing to inform strategic decision making in the public or private sector.
  • Minimum of one (1) year of experience in innovation and technology for inclusive finance.
  • Proficiency in English and Hindi.

Step II: Desk Review

A desk review will be conducted to produce a shortlist of applicants according to the criteria listed below. Only applicants who obtain 80 points at this stage shall be invited for the next step.

  • A Master’s degree in economics, statistics, public/business administration, social sciences, technology or related discipline. – 20 points
  • Minimum of three (3) years of experience in conducting research and technical writing to inform strategic decision making in the public or private sector. – 30 points
  • Minimum of one (1) year of experience in conducting socioeconomic research. – 20 points
  • Minimum of one (1) year of experience in innovation and technology for inclusive finance. – 30 points

Step III: Interview

All candidates who obtain 80 points and above at the desk review shall be invited to a competency-based interview.

Only applicants who obtain a minimum of 70% on the total of Steps II (40 points) + III (60 points) will be considered as technically-qualified and will be reviewed further for financial evaluation.

Step IV: Financial Evaluation

The following formula will be used for evaluation of financial proposals: Lowest priced proposal / Price of the proposal being evaluated x 30

Award Criteria

The contact shall be awarded to the applicant whose offer have been evaluated and determined as:

• Responsive/compliant/acceptable; and • Having received the highest combined score: Technical (desk review and interview) 70% + Financial 30% = 100%.

Both individual consultants and individuals employed by a company or institution are welcome to apply. Any individual employed by a company or institution who would like to submit an offer in response to a Procurement Notice for individual consultant must do so in their individual capacity by providing a CV so that their qualifications may be judged accordingly. Women candidates or women-owned businesses are strongly encouraged to apply.

Added 1 year ago - Updated 1 year ago - Source: