Since the beginning of the crisis in 2011, Caritas Syria (CS) has been actively supporting people in need. Through its various projects, CS has offered different kinds of aid mainly in the sectors of food and basic assistance, education, elderlies support, psycho-social support for children, and shelter, as the war has deprived most Syrians of any source of income.

To support self-reliance of vulnerable households affected by the conflict in Syria, Caritas Syria and Caritas Austria have developed a project based on a NEXUS approach that aims to help vulnerable households (HHs) move from reliance on basic assistance towards resilient and sustainable livelihoods. The project targets IDPs, host and other conflict-affected communities in Homs and Hama with tailored assistance. Beneficiary categories are differentiated along vulnerability criteria on the one hand, and eligibility criteria to receive business support (start-up and re-start package) on the other.

Within the R2R project business development participants are being divided based on their previous experience and skills into a start-up and a re-start stream. For both categories business skills trainings are being provided following an incubation phase in which participants are able to develop their business plans accompanied by coaches. Once finalized business plans are presented to a committee. Most promising business ideas will receive business grants in instalments along predefined milestones to start-up or re-start business.

In order to promote evidence-based programming and to increase the effectiveness of the programme, Caritas is searching for a consultant to conduct a research study on successful development models of small scale business in Syria. This ‘action research’ will run in parallel to project implementation and its (intermediate) results will directly flow 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 business development by facilitating market participation of the poor and to contributing to a smooth transition from humanitarian aid towards sustainable livelihoods, to be adopted in Caritas early recovery and livelihoods (ERL) work in Syria. The leading question is, how can the creation of SMEs be used to link short term interventions and longer term intervention based on the Nexus Approach in Syria? In the course of the study, a mapping of actors working on SMEs business development shall be conducted to allow for a comparison of business development models. Finally, an analysis will be provided along the research questions with practical recommendations on how to implement these in the Syria context.


The main research questions the study should focus on and which shall be answered are as follows:

  1. Mapping of actors involved in SME support
  • Who are the main actors (INGOs, local NGOs, FBOs, UN agencies, public private institutions etc.) implementing business development interventions for SMEs aiming at market participation of the poor?
  • Who are the main actors providing support to SME development (microfinance institutions, governmental bodies etc.)
  • Are there any actors that implement a NEXUS based approach that supports vulnerable households to transition from humanitarian assistance to livelihoods?
  1. Mapping of existing models
  • Which are existing, appropriate and successful models of sustainable business development in a post emergency phase particularly in the Syrian context but also globally?
  • What are good practices, success factors and lessons learned along the creation of ideas to the successfully running SME in urban as well as rural areas?
  • Which are the main challenges faced by organizations and participant? Which are the advantages and disadvantages from each model?
  • Are there any innovative approaches to business development?
  1. Modality for assets creation and replacement
  • How can cash based assistance be utilized for assets creation to support market integration of the poor?
  • What is best practice with cash based interventions and which are the main challenges?
  • Which size of start-up and re-start grants are being provided on average? How (modality, time schedule, number and size of installment etc.) shall grants be provided in order to increase success of the businesses? How efficient are grants for start-up and re-start businesses given high inflation and scares availability of materials and equipment in Syria.
  • Are there any other innovative modalities of assistance?
  1. NEXUS
  • How can a systemic approach as the Market Systems Development (MSD) approach be applied in the Syria context to create a supporting environment for SMEs business development and further contribute to the NEXUS approach and resilience?
  • How can the collaboration between development and humanitarian actors be strengthened in order to promote addressing intermediate needs through the MSD?
  • In how far can the MSD approach contribute to the NEXUS – addressing the immediate impacts of shocks while underlying systemic issues in the context of fragility are not ignored?
  1. Gender equality
  • How can small scaled 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 comparing R2Rs approach to existing best practices?
  • How can the R2R project best support the creation of a supportive environment for the target group in order 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 towards sustainable livelihoods?


The methodology applied for the study shall at least comprise of a solid desk review and qualitative research in form of KIIs, FGDs, etc..

  • The consultancy shall conduct a thorough actors mapping including pre-defined information on their particular business development intervention
  • A sound desk review on existing business development models for SMEs
  • Qualitative research (KII, FGD etc.) for in depth analysis of the success factors of business development models

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


The consultancy is expected to produce the following deliverables.

  1. Inception Report
  2. Draft Final Study Report
  3. Final Study Report (incl. actors mapping)
  4. Presentation of findings in a validation workshop (incl. powerpoint presentation)


Eligible applicants

  1. must have the right to enter a contractual agreement with Caritas Austria
  2. must have no history of legal proceedings related to fraud, corruption or safeguarding 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 agency/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 business development.
  2. Significant familiarity with emergency programming and solid understanding of standards of humanitarian assistance
  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 context of Syria is a must
  6. A minimum of five years’ experience and expertise in research
  7. The consultancy agency/team of consultants should have the ability to independently conduct research (field visits, interviews etc.) within Syria
  8. Excellent facilitation and interpersonal skills
  9. Excellent oral and written English and Arabic skill

How to apply


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

Password: KEkz9k9D

Interested applicants should submit their application meeting the requirements detailed below via e-mail to with the subject line “R2R – Research Study”. The deadline for submission of applications is 26th June 2022, 5pm CET. Consultants who do not submit their quotations by this deadline will not be considered.

The application should include as a minimum:

a) CVs of all involved consultants incl. professional references

b) Cover letter which clearly summarizes relevant experience

c) Technical proposal (not exceeding 20 pages in total) including:

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

d) Financial proposal (in EUR or USD) including a clear breakdown of costs per task (Study and Evaluation), including all expenses such as travel, transportation, accommodation etc..

e) Two samples of recent writing relevant to this TOR

f) State the validity of the offer

Selection Criteria

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

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

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