UNHCR: Call for expression of interest (Livelihood Project)

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
Opportunity closing date: 
Wednesday, 24 February, 2021
Opportunity type: 
Call for proposals


Project Title and Identification: Livelihood Project for Refugees in South Africa

Project Location: Gauteng, Western and Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal Provinces, South Africa 

The purpose of this Call for Expression of Interest is to identify and – on the basis of responses received – select a prospective or existing partner to implement the Livelihood Project for Refugees in South Africa on behalf of the UNHCR South Africa Operation. The Selected Partner will handle the day-to-day activities related to the management and implementation of the Livelihood Strategy Project for the benefit of persons of concern (PoCs) to UNHCR and the communities they reside in, under the overall coordination and management of UNHCR. Recognised refugees with a Section 24 permits, who have greater legislative prospects for employment and self-employment in the current South African context, aged 18 to 59 years will be targeted in particular.
UNHCR South Africa Operation is looking for a Partner that could liaise with various stakeholders and provide the following services: 

(i) Building an enabling socio-political environment that recognises values and facilitates employment opportunities of refugees, by engaging in targeted advocacy and lobbying interventions with strategic stakeholders, both in government and industries. This will include intensive lobbying and engagement of prospective employers to provide opportunities for refugees to access work experience, as well as to be connected to employment opportunities.  It will also include influencing topical processes and contemporary deliberations in a manner that begins to shift the current refugee narrative that refugees are a burden to the state to one that values the contribution of refugees to the South African economy. 

(ii) Employment support that will result in a minimum of 50% of graduates of training programmes accessing employment or self-employment opportunities at least 6 -12 months after training interventions. Thus, in addition to TVET training provision (in targeted technical qualifications), the project should include a substantial focus on the case management of trainees, which includes the provision of coaching and mentoring support, which will assist in connecting refugee graduates to employment or work experience opportunities. This is highly dependent on the careful selection of participants with potential, the selection of accredited training courses offered by quality institutions, as well as the preparation of candidates for the labour market.

(iii) Self-employment support that enables refugees to grow and expand their small business initiatives, including provision of quality business training, provision of financial support, as well as the provision of business development and business advisory services that contribute to business feasibility and sustainability. 
Organisations/institutions with expertise, experience and capacity in refugee livelihood programmes in urban settings are invited and encouraged to apply. Aligned with the whole-of-society approach, the organization should demonstrate capacity to engage and collaborate with relevant stakeholders including the private sector, development actors and others to create more opportunities for persons of concern.

The Concept Note should be concise and contain clear information, not exceeding three (3) pages.
Interested organisations are requested to submit a Concept Note using the attached template by 24 February 2021
Submissions will be accepted only through the UNHCR’s partner portal at: www.unpartnerportal.org

Brief background of the project:

South Africa is party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, its 1967 Protocol, as well as the 1969 OAU Convention Governing Specific Aspects of the Refugee Situation in Africa. The country has a liberal asylum policy; the South Africa Refugees Act of 1998 incorporates all the basic principles of refugee and asylum-seeker protection, including freedom of movement, the right to work and access basic social services. However, refugees and asylum-seekers are not always able to fully enjoy some of these rights because some public institutions do not recognise their permits either to access services or to integrate cases into local charitable and government social service programs. UNHCR advocates for their integration, while continuing to provide short-term material assistance to persons with specific needs among refugees and asylum-seekers. Refugees and asylum-seekers reside mainly in urban areas throughout the country making it challenging to reach those with the most critical specific needs.
The main target groups of people of concern planned in 2021 under the South Africa operation are refugees and asylum-seekers fleeing persecution and conflict. The majority originate from Zimbabwe, Somalia, Ethiopia, DRC, Rwanda and Burundi. According to the Department of Home Affairs, for 2020, there are 266,654 people of concern in the country. 

  • In South Africa self-reliance and livelihood empowerment remain key in promoting local integration of PoCs into host communities. Self-employment is the main form of livelihood for a large portion of PoCs; Many people are however illiterate and have low skills and this further impedes their self-reliance and empowerment opportunities. 
  1. Despite the favourable legal framework, barriers to meaningful economic inclusion remain high, specifically: Safety and security are main challenges threatening the survival and integration of PoCs into communities;
  2. Documentation challenges – which affect all aspects of PoCs lives and livelihoods – some employers and some banks often do not recognise refugee documentation thus hindering PoC access to the labour market;
  3. Lack of access to means of livelihood - although refugees and asylum-seekers have the right to work, some  are not able to fully exercise this right due to limited job opportunities ,an overall high unemployment rate in the country,  inadequate skills that match labor demand and limited knowledge of and capacity to access support services and economic opportunities;
  4. The government has not initiated any formal programmes aimed at facilitating local integration of refugees. 
  • Since 2015, UNHCR has been involved in the process of identifying avenues to improve its livelihoods interventions for PoCs in South Africa through the development of the UNHCR South Africa Livelihood and Economic Inclusion Strategy (2019-2023), which represents the basis for the Call for Expression of Interest.
  • The strategy has three (3) key pillars, including advocacy and lobbying, employment support and self-employment support targeting 80% recognised refugees with a Section 24 permit and 20% South Africans.

Goal/Objective, Expected Outcome and Main Activities:

Overall strategic objective:
Refugees in South Africa have sustainable livelihoods through engagement in employment and self-employment activities that enable them to secure the basic necessities of life on a sustainable basis.  
Expected outcomes:
The livelihood and self-reliance activities work towards improving self-reliance and livelihoods of urban refugees in order to:

  • Reduce the socio-economic vulnerability and build the resilience of urban refugees in South Africa
  • Reduce long-term reliance on external assistance
  • Prepare refugees for comprehensive durable solutions

Proposed outputs / activities / indicators:

1. Developing an enabling environment that recognises and facilitates the employment and self-employment of refugees

1.1 Outreach to policy makers, industry players and human resource agencies
# of advocacy, information dissemination meetings with targeted stakeholders
1.2 Marketing campaign through popular media (radio, television)
# of key policy makers, industry players and civil society stakeholders sharing insights and discussing how to best address the employment challenges of refugees through media campaigns
1.3 Outreach to financing institutions, municipalities, SMME support agencies 
# of refugees receiving trading licenses from municipalities
1.4 Establish agreement on refugee employment and partnership with Industry players   
# of private sector partners engaged in refugee employment support interventions

 2.  Employment Support Programme

2.1 The identification of credible and accredited TVET colleges resulting in training of refugees in identified accredited Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) disciplines 
# of refugees graduated from TVET colleges in targeted qualifications 
2.2 Post TVET training, tracking and monitoring of graduate progress
# of refugee tracked
2.3 Placement of graduates in at least 6 months learnerships/internships with different companies (co-financed)
# of refugees who are placed in learnerships or internships
2.4 Provision of life skills training for employment
# of refugees, who receive life skills training for livelihood purposes
# of refugees, who participate in a job interview
# of refugees, who are successful in accessing employment

   3. Self-employment support

3.1 Provision of Business development - non-financial services and products, including business management, business registration and business advisory services
% refugees, who successfully complete a business training course
% refugees, who successfully register their business
# of refugees provided with financial management training
# of business, advisory services requested and delivered
3.2 Provision of life skills training for employment
% refugees, who actively market their products and services
% refugees proactively apply for additional business support
3.3 Support with registration of refugee businesses 
# of refugee’s businesses registered
3.4 The provision of a business grant for self-employed refugees, who have been in business for at least 1 year
# of grants provided to refugees in business

4.  Financial inclusion      

 4.1.  # of refugees accessing formal financial services (including bank accounts, remittance service, loans, etc)

Intended Population of Concern:
The livelihood strategy will target refugees and South Africans (80/20) between the ages of 18 – 59 using the following selection criteria:

  • Those participating in a Technical and Vocational Education Training intervention that includes a requirement for Trade Testing must have successfully completed secondary schooling.
  • Those participating in other Vocational courses must at least have completed a basic level of schooling enabling them to read and write.
  • Those selected for the self-employment option, who want to participate in a business skills training course or access business advisory services must at least have one year experience in running a business.
  • To qualify for a business grant, applicants must have a business plan that includes a market assessment. The business plan should include financial projections for at least one year.
  • Survivalists and micro entrepreneurs. 
  • Aspirant entrepreneurs.  
Project Period (estimated start and end dates of project): 
1 April 2021 – 31 December 2021
Submission Deadline:             Date Decision Results to be Communicated to Applicants:
 24 February 2021 26 March 2021

Selection Criteria: 

Choose relevant criteria  
Criteria Description
Assigned Weighting
X Sector expertise and experience:  
Experience and capacity in implementing livelihoods interventions especially in implementing activities described above under the section “Goal/Objective, Expected Outcome and Main Activities”
X Institutional capacity for services, proposed approach, solutions, methodology and outputs:
Strong Monitoring and evaluation capabilities and frameworks
Research capabilities on livelihoods in vulnerable and poor communities (baselining, value chains, case studies and stories)
Targeting by target populations, sectors and regions
Working with refugee populations
Partnership development with a broad range of stakeholders
X Human resources, finances and budgeting:
Human resources (with emphasis on livelihoods capacity, experience and education)
Additional funding received by the organisation
Experience in finance management
Procurement policy
Budget management
Audit results of previous projects 
X Governance:
Board, general assembly meetings and oversight
Partnerships with government and development agencies
Management structure
Internal controls and segregation of duties
X Cost effectiveness:
Level of direct costs and administrative costs imposed on the Project in relation to project deliverables. 
X Experience working with UN Agencies / UNHCR:
Experience working with UN Agencies /UNHCR in global and/or local partnerships 
Knowledge of UNHCR policies, practices and programmes, including an understanding of and ability to work within UNHCR’s funding limitations and associated inherent risks.

Additional Information: 

Proposals should bear in mind existing refugee protection mechanisms including formal laws and policies designed to protect refugees as well as informal community-based protection efforts. Proposals should be designed to support and strengthen existing systems and mechanisms rather than developing parallel systems that may not be sustainable over time.

Issuing UNHCR Office UNHCR South Africa Multi-Country Office
Contact Address Waterkloof House, 209 Waterkloof Road, Brooklyn, Pretoria
Full name and title, Head of Office Leonard Zulu, Representative
Name of UNHCR Office UNHCR South Africa Multi-Country Office (SAMCO)
Date 18 January 2021



For further information please contact: 
Ms. Vongaishe Mujuru

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