Since the start of the crisis in 2011, Caritas Syria (CS) has been actively supporting people in need. Through its various projects, CS has offered different forms of aid mainly in the sectors of food and basic aid, education, support for the elderly, psychosocial support for children and accommodation, as the war has deprived most Syrians of any source of income.

To support the self-sufficiency of vulnerable households affected by the conflict in Syria, Caritas Syria and Caritas Austria have developed a project based on a NEXUS approach which aims to help vulnerable households move from dependence on basic aid to resilient and sustainable livelihoods. The project targets IDPs, host communities and other conflict-affected communities in Homs and Hama with tailored assistance. The categories of beneficiaries are differentiated according to vulnerability criteria on the one hand, and eligibility criteria for receiving business support (start-up and restart package) on the other.

Under the R2R project, business development participants are divided based on their previous experience and skills into a start-up stream and a restart stream. For both categories, business skills training is provided after an incubation phase during which participants are able to develop their business plans accompanied by coaches. Once finalized, the business plans are presented to a committee. The most promising business ideas will receive business grants in tranches according to predefined stages to start or restart a business.

To promote evidence-based programming and increase program effectiveness, Caritas is seeking a consultant to conduct a research study on successful small business development models in Syria. This ‘action research’ will run parallel to project implementation and its (intermediate) results will feed directly into the design of methods and approaches.


The overall objective of this study is to demonstrate a model based on best practices and methods of SME development by facilitating market participation of the poor and contributing to a smooth transition from humanitarian assistance to sustainable livelihoods. , to be adopted in Caritas for Early Recovery and Livelihoods (ERL) in Syria. The main question is how can SME creation be used to link short-term interventions and a longer-term intervention based on the Nexus approach in Syria? During the study, a mapping of actors working on the business development of SMEs will be carried out in order to allow a comparison of business development models. Finally, an analysis will be provided along with the research questions with practical recommendations on how to implement them in the Syrian context.


The main research questions that the study should focus on and need to be answered are:

  1. Mapping of actors involved in supporting SMEs
  • Who are the main actors (INGOs, local NGOs, faith-based organizations, UN agencies, private public institutions, etc.) implementing business development interventions for SMEs aimed at market participation of the poor?
  • What are the main actors supporting SME development (microfinance institutions, government agencies, etc.)
  • Are there actors implementing a NEXUS-based approach that helps vulnerable households move from humanitarian assistance to livelihoods?
  1. Mapping of existing models
  • What are the existing, appropriate and successful models for sustainable business development in a post-emergency phase, particularly in the Syrian context but also globally?
  • What are the good practices, success factors and lessons learned throughout the creation of ideas for the successful management of SMEs in urban and rural areas?
  • What are the main challenges faced by organizations and participants? What are the pros and cons of each model?
  • Are there any innovative approaches to enterprise development?
  1. Modality of creation and replacement of assets
  • How can cash assistance be used for asset creation to support market integration of the poor?
  • What is best practice in cash-based interventions and what are the main challenges?
  • What is the size of seed and restart grants provided on average? How (modality, timing, number and size of installments, etc.) should grants be awarded in order to increase business success? How effective are business start-up and restart grants given the high inflation and scarcity of materials and equipment availability in Syria.
  • Are there other innovative forms of assistance?
  1. LINK
  • How can a systems approach such as the Market Systems Development (MSD) approach be applied in the Syrian context to create an enabling environment for SME business development and further contribute to the NEXUS approach and resilience ?
  • How to strengthen collaboration between development and humanitarian actors to promote the management of intermediate needs through the DSM?
  • To what extent can the MSD approach contribute to NEXUS – addressing the immediate impacts of shocks without ignoring underlying systemic issues in the context of fragility?
  1. Gender equality
  • How can small-scale business models be used to recognize women’s agency and not just their vulnerabilities?
  1. Recommendations for R2R
  • What are the lessons to be learned by comparing the R2R approach to existing best practices?
  • How can the R2R project best support the creation of an enabling environment for the target group to use the potential of existing structures (microfinance institutions for additional financial support, etc.)
  • How can the R2R project be improved to facilitate the transition from basic assistance to sustainable livelihoods?


The methodology applied for the study should at least include a solid desk study and qualitative research in the form of KII, FGD, etc.

  • The consultancy will conduct an in-depth mapping of the players, including pre-defined information on their particular business development intervention.
  • An in-depth study of existing business development models for SMEs
  • Qualitative research (KII, FGD etc.) for in-depth analysis of success factors of business development models

The specific methodology will be proposed by the consultant, approved by Caritas and described in the inception report.


The consulting firm should produce the following deliverables.

  1. Initial report
  2. Draft final study report
  3. Final study report (including stakeholder mapping)
  4. Presentation of results in a validation workshop (including powerpoint presentation)


Eligible candidates

  1. must have the right to enter into a contractual agreement with Caritas Austria
  2. must have no history of legal proceedings related to fraud, corruption or the protection of children and/or vulnerable adults
  3. must be able to conduct research including KII, FGD in Syria independently.

This assignment will require a consultancy firm/team of consultants with the following qualifications and experience:

  1. Relevant professional and academic background (e.g. economics, business administration, social sciences, development studies, cultural sciences, etc.) and proven experience in developing quantitative and qualitative research in the field of enterprise development.
  2. Good knowledge of emergency programming and solid understanding of humanitarian aid standards
  3. Extensive demonstrable experience in market-based intervention and qualitative and quantitative research
  4. Experience working with quantitative and qualitative data collection and very strong analytical and research skills
  5. Experience in the Middle East region, detailed knowledge of the Syria context is essential
  6. A minimum of five years of research experience and expertise
  7. The consulting agency/consulting team must have the ability to conduct independent research (field visits, interviews, etc.) in Syria
  8. Excellent facilitation and interpersonal skills
  9. Excellent oral and written command of English and Arabic

How to register


All relevant documents (ToR, application form) for the realization of the application can be downloaded under the following link:

Interested candidates should submit their application meeting the requirements detailed below via email to [email protected] with the subject line “R2R – Research Study”. The deadline for submitting applications is June 26, 2022, 5:00 p.m. CET. Consultants who do not submit their bids within this time frame will not be considered.

The request must include at least:

a) CVs of all consultants involved incl. Professional references

b) Cover letter that clearly summarizes the relevant experience

c) Technical Proposal (not to exceed 20 pages in total) including:

  • Methodology and tools per task as well as an overview of the team structure and roles
  • Detailed work plan for both tasks ensuring the delivery of final deliverables as stipulated in section 4
  • Relevant previous degree

d) Financial proposal (in EUR or USD) including a clear cost breakdown per task (study and evaluation), including all expenses such as travel, transport, accommodation, etc.

e) Two examples of recent writing relevant to this mandate

f) Indicate the validity of the offer

Selection criteria

  • 70% technical, narrative proposal, CV, experience and background of the candidate.
  • 30% financial offer

In order to ensure a fair selection process, Caritas Austria cannot respond to requests for further details or clarifications. All applicants will receive an acknowledgment of receipt of the proposal and will be informed of the outcome of the selection process.

Paul N. Strickland