Consultancy – Impact researcher to develop case studies on SGBs, CFYE Uganda







Employment Type


Closing Date

13 december 2023


Emily Walters 

Project Overview and Role:

The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) is a 7-year and €134 million programme funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that aims to create a prosperous future for 230,000 young women and men in the Middle East, North Africa, Sahel & West Africa and Horn of Africa regions. The Fund will be supporting initiatives in 12 focus countries that will offer youth, in particular young women, opportunities for work that is demand-driven and productive, offering a stable income and safe working conditions, and that is contributing to their personal development and social protection.
The portfolio of projects is selected from business cases that were proposed by private sector, civil society and knowledge institutions. Each business case has outlined scalable solutions for creating more and better jobs and income generating opportunities for youth. Solutions in particular focus on an integrated approach that addresses the shortcomings on the demand side (jobs) and supply side (skills) and bridging the mismatch between these two in the labour market.

Assignment Overview:

The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) is taking an integrated approach to youth employment, looking at matching supply- and demand-side interventions, with a key role for the private sector. Thus far, CFYE has been funding a range of interventions across more than 10 countries and has built a diverse portfolio of implementing partners (IP’s). The portfolio consists of established SMEs, start-ups (mostly tech-enabled), social enterprises and several enterprise support organizations.
The IPs are selected primarily for their potential to create, match or improve jobs for youth at scale. One type of IP that we can distinguish are “intermediaries” who in turn use CFYE’s funding and support to invest in and/or provide technical assistance to small and growing businesses (SGBs)[1] which are themselves too small to be eligible as IPs within CFYE’s portfolio. Nevertheless, CFYE recognizes that these SGBs are critical drivers of youth employment creation in their respective economies and CFYE therefore makes a concerted effort to reach them through IP intermediaries, such as Balloon Ventures, an enterprise support organization working in Uganda and Kenya.
These SGBs are often stuck in what we call the “missing middle”: they are too big for microfinance, too small or risky for traditional bank lending and lack the growth, return and exit potential sought by venture capitalists. The business development support and investments they receive from intermediaries like Balloon Ventures, are often critical for the growth of these SGBs and their ability to hire more workers, improve working conditions, and raise external capital to finance continued growth.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities:

The objective of this assignment is to conduct qualitative research to create a series of case studies on a set of Small- and Growing Businesses (SGBs) receiving support and/or investment from CFYE’s implementing partner Balloon Ventures.  From these case studies, an analysis will be made on how Balloon Ventures is contributing to the creation of jobs for youth by the SGBs that it supports and what the pathways typically are for creating these jobs for youth. The case studies and the subsequent analysis will explore the extent to which (and mechanisms through which) the provision of capital and/or business develop services has affected performance of the SGBs compared to “business as usual”, focusing on the following key questions:

1) Job creation / improvement:
– How many and what types of jobs are created /improved (including direct & indirect by the supported SGBs, and over what  timeline? How many of these jobs have been for youth/young women specifically (vs. older groups)?
– How has support from Balloon Ventures enabled these jobs to be created?
– What types of job improvements do the Balloon Ventures focus on (promote/measure) and to what extent (and in what  ways) has support from BV influenced the quality of direct and indirect jobs (from the perspective of the business as well as  workers)?
2) Business practices, capacity and performance:
– To what extent has support from Balloon Ventures affected business practices (including hiring practices), capacity and  performance (including revenue growth/profitability) of the SGBs?
1. How did the different types of support provided (investment capital vs technical support) contribute to changes  observed?
– If relevant: How have efforts (of the SGB) to improve job quality been experienced by the business itself (e.g. have these  efforts affected costs, productivity, retention, etc)? To what degree are changes likely to be maintained over time?

Insights from the above questions should help to formulate recommendations around.

– How to further accelerate the creation/improvement of direct and indirect jobs through SGBs (i.e. what works well and what  doesn’t) and
– How intermediaries can effectively influence/ improve quality/decency of jobs created.

About Balloon Ventures:

Balloon Ventures provides investment and support to SGBs in Uganda and Kenya, using an innovative model where good jobs (contract + living wage) are built into the loan product. They focus on 2nd tier towns (e.g. Mbale, Iganga, Eldoret, Mole) and their surrounding rural areas — areas typically overlooked by other financial institutions and business support providers, and on businesses typically employing 5-25 employees owned by local entrepreneurs in proven brick and mortar industries.


Ideally, the research in general and the (4-5) case studies specifically are built up around the following three activities:

1) Interview with Balloon Ventures senior management staff members to understand:
– Why the SGBs were selected to become part of the portfolio, and what role the potential of the SGB to create or improve jobs  for youth has played in the decision by Balloon Ventures to provide support to the SGB (including description of the specific  agreement, if relevant, between Balloon Ventures and the SGB about new hiring / job improvements)
– How the SGBs were supported (business support and/or investment) and how many youth jobs to date are created or  improved because of this support.
2) Interviews with senior management of SGBs that are selected for case
 studies to understand how the support from Balloon Ventures has impacted their business in general and the creation/improvement of jobs for youth (direct & indirect) more specifically.
3) Sample survey or potentially interviews (ideally based on the job quality assessment tool developed by CFYE and others) with employees/workers and indirect job owners/beneficiaries (where relevant) of these SGBs to understand job quality improvements following the support to the SGBs by Balloon Ventures.


In relation to the activities mentioned above, the consultant will provide the following deliverables:

– Methodology document developed and approved by CFYE (including interview guides/surveys to be used).
– Short report on interviews with Balloon Ventures summarizing key aspects of the delivery model and perspectives of the team in relation to the research questions.
-.Well-documented and structured case studies (4-5) built up around interviews with SGBs and survey with employees/users/indirect beneficiaries) – in an edited format with proper lay-out (to be agreed upon with CFYE.
– (Remote) sense-making session with CFYE and Balloon Ventures representatives to validate this analysis.
– Overall insight paper as a synthesis of the assignment, including summarized case studies and recommendations for improvement to strengthen impact.

Operational Arrangements:

The selected consultant will report to the portfolio lead and to the learning theme lead at CFYE.  CFYE will ensure a proper introduction to Balloon Ventures key staff members, who in turn will ensure the consultant is introduced to selected SGBs. The consultant will work actively together with the CFYE team in the preparatory phase. Selection of case studies and analysis will be made together with Balloon Ventures and CFYE, where needed final decision on selection will be made by CFYE. As much as possible the Balloon Ventures- and selected SGB-facing activities will be implemented in-person.

Core Competencies:

The selected consultant should demonstrate that it has the following core competencies:
Research methodology: understanding of various research methods and the ability to select most appropriate methods.
Data Collection: proficiency in designing surveys, conducting interviews, etc.
Data analysis: strong analytical skills to interpret data and draw meaningful conclusions.
Report writing: communicate findings and insights effectively through well-structured and concise reports.
Communication skills: excellent oral and written communication skills.
– Attention to detail.

Minimum Requirements:

The selected organization/consultant should demonstrate at least the following:
– At least 5 years of track record of research assignments on entrepreneurship and youth employment in Uganda.
– Thorough understanding of the private sector in Uganda and the role of entrepreneurship support organizations and investors.
– Demonstrate experience in working directly with founders/management of SGBs on research assignments.  

Level of Effort and Reporting:

CFYE expects that the assignment will run from January through March 2024. We roughly expect this research to require the following level of effort:

– Onboarding and preparation of research tools: 1-1,5 days
– Interviews with Balloon Ventures + write up short report: 1 day
– Interviews with SGBs: 2,5 days
– Interviews/surveys with employees of SGBs / workers in the supply chain whose jobs have been affected changes in the SGB: 3 days
– Case study development: 5 days
– Sensemaking workshop (remote) + prep: 1 day
– Insights paper development: 4days
– Based on an estimated 18 days for this assignment, CFYE can provide a maximum lumpsum budget of EUR 6000 (plus reimbursement for travel expenses, if required), disbursed in tranches based on three milestones:
– Upon signature of contract: 33% or 2000 euro
– Upon reception of first full draft insights paper: 33% or 2000 euro
– Upon completion of assignment: 33% or 2000 euro.

How to Apply:

Interested consultants are requested to provide a high-level proposal of a maximum of 10 pages all together, where they elaborate on:
– Their suggested approach/methodology to the proposed activities.
– Relevant track record of the organization and profiles of proposed team members for implementation.
– High level workplan (can be a Gantt chart).
– Break-down of proposed budget for the assignment (breakdown of proposed fee structure and any other expected costs).

Deadline: 13 December 2023

About Palladium

Palladium is a global leader in the design, development and delivery of Positive Impact – the intentional creation of enduring social and economic value.

We work with foundations, investors, governments, corporations, communities and civil society to formulate strategies and implement solutions that generate lasting social, environmental and financial benefits. For the past 50 years, we have been making Positive Impact possible. With a team of more than 2,500 employees operating in 90 plus countries and a global network of more than 35,000 technical experts, Palladium has improved – and is committed to continuing to improve – economies, societies and most importantly, people’s lives.

Palladium is a child-safe organisation, and screens applicants for suitability to work with children. We also provide equal employment to all participants and employees without regard to race, colour, religion, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, veteran or marital status.