STTA: Identify and Establish Collaborative and Horizontal Business Linkages Between U.S. and Azerbaijani Companies
The USAID Agricultural Support to Azerbaijan Project (ASAP) aims to increase incomes and employment in rural areas by delivering firm-level investment and technical assistance to agribusiness enterprises that wish to engage with commercial markets as private businesses. Implemented by CNFA, the 63-month project was initiated in June 2014.
Since its launch, ASAP has benefited not only Azerbaijani agribusinesses, but U.S. agribusinesses as well and in the process has reduced Russian influence on Azerbaijani agribusiness. By introducing American technologies, purchasing U.S. goods and services, engaging American experts, facilitating trips to the U.S. that have led to purchases by Azerbaijani agribusinesses from American companies and the establishment of other types of linkages, agriculture in both countries has benefited from these new ties and exposure. While U.S. agribusiness manufacturers and suppliers have gained new markets, Azerbaijani agribusiness have gained access to innovative new technologies that were previously unavailable or unknown to local producers and processors. These efforts will continue during PY5 of the project through work to build the capacity of local dealers and representatives to identify local needs that U.S. agribusinesses can supply and support their efforts to raise awareness among local growers and processors that could benefit.
The U.S. linkages that ASAP will continue to facilitate will include both academic and commercial linkages between Azerbaijan and the United States. Academic linkages can serve several purposes, including expanding the scope and experience of U.S. institutions, while orienting overseas partners toward U.S. technologies, which can help create demand for American educational and research institutions as well as commercial technologies. This can increase, through “soft power,” goodwill toward the U.S. and counter malign foreign influence in line with the USAID objective of Countering Kremlin Influence (CKI). Commercial linkages in turn open new markets for American businesses, thereby increasing their revenues and creating jobs. They can also help increase the profitability of Azerbaijani businesses through distribution contracts for Azerbaijan and even Central Asia, thereby creating jobs in Azerbaijan. Third, helping make new and innovative products and technologies available to Azerbaijani agribusiness improves the quantity and quality of their agricultural production. This in turn improves the revenues and profitability of farmers and in turn creates jobs in such areas as harvesting as well as second and third-tier jobs in processing, packaging, and transportation.
With the aforementioned context in mind, ASAP is searching for a consultant to identify and establish linkages between U.S. and Azerbaijani companies. This assignment includes development of a list of U.S. companies to be identified based on several factors, foremost among them being specific expressed interest by ASAP’s recipients and other partners and contacts. Having identified the prospective linkages, the consultant is expected to facilitate introductions between these prospective linkage partners, and, where necessary, assist in negotiations between these Azerbaijani and U.S. enterprises/entrepreneurs with the purpose of establishing local distributorships or representation of American agribusinesses in Azerbaijan.
This consultancy will require an experienced authority with relevant experience in the U.S. and Azerbaijan to research potential collaborative and horizontal business linkages between the actors in related industries in both countries.
• To promote collaborative and horizontal business linkages between U.S. and Azerbaijani companies across a multitude of sectors;
• To identify and establish working relationships with large, international American companies interested in reaching out through distributorships, representation, or any other legal form of partnership in Azerbaijan (and possibly in the wider South Caucasus, Central Asia and other parts of the former USSR as well);
• To empower local communities by expanding existing and/or initiating new economic activities;
• To help Azerbaijani suppliers to increase income through sales of new American machinery, equipment, input, and/or other resources and thus to help Azerbaijani agribusinesses increase production, productivity, and quality through access to an expanded and diversified array of innovative U.S. technologies.
PRINCIPAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Work from the U.S. to:
• Conduct desktop research to identify potential demand-driven collaborative and horizontal business linkages;
• Employ knowledge of both countries’ business environments to outline and select the most promising leads, i.e., those entrepreneurs and enterprises that have interest in and the greatest potential for collaboration;
• Hold meetings/electronic communication with key personnel from parties in both countries to evaluate their technical capacity to enter into a business partnership and establish direct communication between the beneficiary, including continuous ongoing coordination with ASAP representatives; and
• Submit a final report to ASAP regarding the findings of the consultant. Include a list of actual and potential linkages and recommendations for improving the linkage identification strategies employed by the Project and lay out a road map to identify and facilitate such business linkages in the future.
MEETINGS RELATED TO UNDERSTANDING AND PERFORMING THE WORK
The Consultant shall meet online, but is not limited to meeting, the following individuals or groups of individuals in order to fully perform the work specified under this Consultancy:
• David G. Blood, ASAP Chief of Party
• George Melton, Agribusiness Advisor
• Yashar Farajov, US Linkages and Marketing Specialist, Hazelnut VC Coordinator
• Samir Hamidov, USAID ASAP Contracting Officer’s Representative
• Key personnel of candidate U.S. and Azerbaijani companies
• Written summary of contacts, meetings and findings
• Final report of findings on:
o Desktop research for identification of potential demand-driven collaborative and horizontal business linkages;
o A list at least ten companies interested and able to launch a legal partnership with Azerbaijani agribusiness stakeholders;
o A list of actual and potential linkages and recommendations for improving the linkage identification strategies employed by the project laying out a road map to identify and facilitate such business linkages in the future.
PERIOD OF PERFORMANCE
This assignment is proposed to take place, beginning as soon as the candidate is selected, for a duration of the equivalent of up to 15 eight-hour consulting days. This consulting assignment would extend over an overall time period of up to 45 days, in order to allow for the latent periods between when potential U.S. linkage partners are contacted and when responses are received and/or between when required feedback from the Azerbaijani side is requested and when it is received by the consultant.
MANDATORY AND DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS
The Consultant must be an experienced business linkages, trade and marketing expert with extensive experience in brokering, trade/linkage facilitation and consulting. The Consultant is expected to hold a university degree in business management, international trade, international relationships, corporate finance or the equivalent. The focus of the experience should be on import/export promotion and international trade. Experience with Azerbaijani agribusiness companies is preferred. Proficiency in Azerbaijani and/or Russian languages is preferred.