One of the primary obstacles Liberian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face when competing for contracts is assembling a complete and effective bid document. Bid documents are lengthy and include a number of technical components, especially for larger buyers, and businesses must follow very specific processes when compiling and submitting their bids.
In response, SMI-L developed “Advanced Bid Compilation” training and introduced it in July 2013. Since its debut, SMI-L has delivered eight two-day sessions to 61 participants. The course simulates the entire bid compilation process, including the pre-bid, bid closing and bid opening meetings. Participants are grouped by sector and together they walk through picking up tender documents, obtaining bid security from a bank and preparing intentional questions for the pre-bid meeting.
The training makes an obvious impact on SMEs’ ability to win contracts with large buyers. After participating in the training, SMEs have been awarded $6,899,168 worth of contracts.
The company Security Expert Guard Agency of Liberia (SEGAL) credits its recent success to SMI-L training, particularly the Advanced Bid Compilation course. Before taking the course, the company hired consultants to prepare their proposals and was often apprehensive about the outcome. Now, SEGAL prepares the documents in-house.
“We don’t look at the petty contracts, we look at the big ones these days,” says Frederick A. Duwor, coordinator at SEGAL.
The company won eight contracts worth over $2 million as a result of SMI-L training. Most recently, SEGAL won a contract with the United Nations worth $1,673,688 to provide security services to multiple agencies, including United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR), World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO). SEGAL also provides security services to government agencies, extractive firms and international private companies. These contracts enabled SEGAL to expand its business capacities and compete for larger contracts.
“When our bids are classified as ‘best responsive,’ I feel so proud,” Duwor says.
SMI-L’s Advanced Bid Compilation focuses on UN agencies or public procurement, which award larger contracts but in turn have more complicated bidding processes. The training simulation gives SMEs like SEGAL the practical and technical experience needed to reduce the anxiety around submitting bids to larger entities and, ultimately, to win contracts with them.