When an international or large regional organization with affiliates in many countries needs an evaluator to offer services in multiple countries and languages simultaneously, who do they contact?
Often they contact one of the large for-profit consulting firms made up largely of North Americans or Europeans because they think that few others have this capability. But IDEAS wants local consultants around the globe to have a chance to compete.
Over the last decade, IDEAS has built its multi-country capability. So when FINCA International, which has microfinance institutions in 23 countries, needed an organization to simultaneously evaluate its work over the last 5 years in its Eurasia Region in Russian, in its African Region in French and English, and in its Latin American Region in Spanish, IDEAS won the competition against larger, more mature for-profit consulting firms. How could we do it? Because we have 150 Associate Consultants around the globe who live in the countries, speak the language and know the culture and the local microfinance markets.
When FINCA International wanted to issue a second contract to have a consulting firm help its affiliates in 7 different countries in Latin America and the Caribbean develop Strategic Plans for the next 5 years IDEAS won that bid despite stiff competition. Our success came largely because we have so many highly qualified Associate Consultants in the LAC Region that FINCA would only have to pay for transportation and lodging expenses in two out of the seven countries. IDEAS could handle the other 5 countries with people who are citizens of those countries, operating out of their own homes and using their own vehicles. Our competitors proposed to fly in North Americans or Europeans to do the work, raising the cost dramatically, and perhaps lowering the quality of the market analysis by using people who were not as familiar with the local situation.
That is an example of where the strategic commitment of IDEAS to train and develop the services of professional evaluators in their own countries became a comparative advantage against other consulting firms with much greater resources. Our clients benefit and, ultimately and more importantly, the poor people of the countries benefit when an excellent quality job is done by local Associate Consultants.
Below are other examples of recent contracts involving multiple countries.
- We evaluated MFIs and technical capacity of World Vision International in 4 countries in Asia, Africa & Latin America. Simultaneously, we did impact evaluations as well as institutional evaluations in Guatemala in Spanish, in Ghana in Twi and Aca languages, and in the Philippines in Tagalog. All these field notes then were translated by IDEAS’ Associate Consultants and the reports for World Vision and USAID were prepared in English.
- Development organizations in 4 Central American countries were evaluated in 2005-6 for the Irish Development Agency ( DCI), all without purchasing a single airline ticket.
- IDEAS evaluated MFIs in 4 Central American countries for Katalysis, again requiring only ground transportation.
- IDEAS worked with its strategic partner, MicroServe, to plan a training institute in 12 countries of the Middle East for SANABEL, after doing research in Arabic, French and English.