GSG is at an exciting and important stage in its development. The model and team continue dynamic evolution and expanded impact. While the current donor budget is 10X what it was just five years ago, we cannot assume that these/similar donors will remain at similar funding levels indefinitely. At the same time, GSG has explored numerous commercial revenue models to date and validated some. For the next phase of GSG, it will be important to examine and chart a practical course for increasing commercial revenue.
Over the past few years, GSG’s model and impact has evolved significantly in Palestine. So, it is also an important moment to take stock of the business model and identify any needed pivots in Palestine in areas such as legal status, registration options, governance/management both within GSG and in relation to Mercy Corps at large. GSG leadership has also identified the critical importance of greater independence/autonomy and flexibility to work beyond traditional NGO models, further underscoring the need for a review in these areas.
Finally, GSG has been adapting quickly to take advantage of the global “virtual moment” precipitated by COVID. And GSG management has now identified this as an opportune moment to explore scaling GSG more widely across the MENA region, while also being as self-sufficient as possible. For example, there are early pilots starting in Iraq. But coordinated and appropriate support from Mercy Corps management will be needed.
PURPOSE OF CONSULTING ENGAGEMENT
The purpose of this engagement is to provide expert guidance at a key point in the development of GSG so that the model and team can continue to evolve appropriately and efficiently for maximum, long-term impact in Palestine and beyond in the years to come. We seek a more rigorous analysis and set of recommendations related to specific key strategic and technical issues. In particular, expanded revenue options, business model/operations and potentially regional expansion.
Phase I will focus on solidifying/evolving the model within Palestine in order to continue reaching more people with even greater impact. Particularly investigating and mapping 1) realistic pathways for increasing Sky Geeks’ commercial offerings and earned income revenue and 2) needed adjustments to business model/operations both for GSG itself and in relation to Mercy Corps (e.g. legal or entity status, governance, having more agile systems for administrative/fiscal support).
Phase II will focus on identifying the most promising pathways for scaling the model to reach more young people in more countries in the Middle East.
The Strategic Consultant will drive this process, working closely with the Innovations team, GSG Director and the Palestine Country Director. Guidance and strategic input from the Middle East leadership team is also key. We will establish a small, efficient internal stakeholder group to facilitate communications, input and consultation during the process that will include team members from Sky Geeks, Middle East leadership teams, technical experts and key support teams such as legal, finance, and others.
SCOPE OF WORK
Phase I: Identify and Analyze Pathways for Maturing Sky Geeks in Palestine
- Develop Framework: Pulling on expertise from the impact/social enterprise space and in consultation with the stakeholder group, develop an appropriate framework for analyzing Sky Geeks’ important strategic management considerations for the most efficient evolution toward its desired impact and scale in Palestine. The framework will put particular emphasis on:
- Pathways for financing for sustainability – particularly commercial options
- Entity status, or multiple, for Sky Geeks.
- Financing Options Analysis: Conduct an analysis of financing options for Sky Geeks in its next phase of development with particular focus on exploring viable pathways for increasing commercial revenue. This will include:
- Review and draw lessons learned from Sky Geeks’ work to date on commercializing services with internal and external stakeholders;
- Conduct market research on the feasibility of securing greater revenue streams from earned income sources and develop viable revenue projections (building on existing GSG projections);
- Scan/research and provide relevant lessons learned from others offering similar services in the same sector (e.g. Andela in Africa).
- With internal stakeholders, capture and present key considerations for maximizing ongoing grant revenue development.
- Map the most promising and realistic pathways for Sky Geeks to increase commercial services. Recommend strategic steps to efficiently test and develop the appropriate mix of earned income versus grant revenue – guide on most efficient ways to test potential new markets and basis for future decision-making.
- Entity Status and Cost Structure Analysis: Develop an analysis framework for assessing options for Sky Geeks’ entity status moving forward. This will include:
- Based on input from internal stakeholders and external experts as needed, develop an analysis of all options for Sky Geeks’ future status such as a) continuing to grow as an enterprise/program within Mercy Corps; b) spinning out as an independent social enterprise and recommended options for this; c) appropriate alternatives such as a subsidiary entity or fiscal sponsorship. This tied to #2 above. Focus on the risks and rewards (financial, political, operational) specific to the Palestine context, in addition to general considerations.
- Specify the foundational costs and staffing necessary to maintain GSG, irrespective of status. Then map this to the entity options in (a) and compare the financially viability of the various options for GSG. (For example maintaining a fundraising or financial management team versus utilizing MC staffing.)
- Evidence: Identify if/what any key areas of further evidence and learning should be areas of focus for Sky Geeks’ future development.
- Additional Considerations: At a high level extract learnings from Gaza Sky Geeks, the stakeholder group and other experts to help inform the overall strategy and management decisions moving forward. Also ensure documentation of key Sky Geeks history, culture, and vision from the GSG Director and leadership team.
- Present Recommendations: Develop a written report / detailed deck outlining the key insights and information collected through the process, including detailed information on the entity options and the financial modeling. Present analysis and recommendations for both 1) current actions or 2) considerations to guide future pivots. Recommendations should be made to management of Sky Geeks and to management of Mercy Corps, so that Mercy Corps understands what resources and evolution will best support our joint impact goals.
Phase 2 – Phase I: Identify and Analyze Pathways for Replicating Sky Geeks in Other Middle East Country Contexts and Next Steps
- Review and confirm Sky Geek’s key impact focus, model and strategy when scaling into new contexts/markets;
- Analyze, review and map most promising pathways for scaling Sky Geeks into new markets. Identify key strategic decision-points and priority areas for investment of time, resources, expertise. And map roles and actions for GSG, Regional Country Teams and other stakeholders.
- Consult with Sky Geeks stakeholders, Middle East leadership and other stakeholders to review and refine approach on replicating/scaling. Create a simple strategic roadmap/set of options and actions for Sky Geeks and Mercy Corps teams to lead and support replication/expansion.
DELIVERABLES & TIMELINE
The anticipated level of effort for Phase I of this consultancy is approximately 30 days beginning in mid February and concluding in April 2021. The anticipated level of effort for Phase II of this consultancy is approximately 10-15 days beginning in April and concluding in May 2021. Please cost the 2 phases separately.
While a final timeline will be developed in consultation with Mercy Corps at the beginning of the consultancy to establish deadlines for submission of the deliverables, below is an indicative timeline for Phase I of the engagement:
- Start of assignment (contract signed) – February 15, 2021
- Phase I – submit framework for research and analysis; interview plan; initial insights from desk research – February 26, 2021
- Phase 1 – Submit initial synopsis of research and interviews – March 22, 2021
- Phase 1 – Presentation to Mercy Corps – April 2, 2021
- Phase 2 – Submit framework for Phase 2 work and desk research – April 9, 2021
- Phase 2 – Submit initial strategic roadmap for replication/scaling – April 23, 2021
- Submission of final report – April 30, 2021
Reports Directly To: Innovations Team
Works Directly With: GSG Director, Palestine CD
Consults With: Palestine Country Director, Middle East Regional Leadership Team, GSG Leadership Team, identified HQ stakeholders such as finance, TSU and Research/Learning, external experts.
- Master’s degree or equivalent combination of education and experience
- 7+ years of relevant experience, including strategic development and financing for high-impact social enterprises
- Substantial experience and knowledge of online education and/or ed-tech business models, digital skills markets, technology jobs and/or the ‘gig’ economy strongly preferred
- Strong ability to engage diverse teams and stakeholders
- Excellent writing, analytical and presentation skills
- Substantive experience with social impact work in fragile environments
- Knowledge of the tech ecosystem in Palestine or the Middle East a plus
Mercy Corps Diversity Statement
Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives.
We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.
Equal Employment Opportunity Statement
Mercy Corps is an equal opportunity employer that does not tolerate discrimination on any basis. We actively seek out diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be collectively stronger and have sustained global impact.
We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.