The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (“the EBRD”) supports the economic transition to an open market economy in its countries of operation, in particular, by fostering better access of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to knowledge and finance. The EBRD develops partnerships with commercial banks, business experts, governmental institutions and other stakeholders to coordinate efforts towards a sustainable infrastructure of professional and financial services for MSMEs. Accelerating digital transition is one of three main cross-cutting priorities in the EBRD’s Strategic and Capital Framework 2021-25.
Since 2010, the EBRD has been implementing programmes aimed at MSMEs support in Ukraine. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian MSMEs has benefited directly from awareness-raising activities, networking events, access to knowledge, advisory services and finance. The EBRD constantly monitors effectiveness and efficiency of its operations and seeks for better ways to deliver value for SMEs through innovations and digital solutions.
In December 2019, the EBRD launched MEREZHA (www.merezha.ua), the online platform for expert solutions, which aims to increase transparency, trust and effectiveness between reliable providers of professional services and MSMEs, seeking for business expertise.
As of February 2021, MEREZHA had over 18,700 registered MSMEs and over 300 vetted registered business experts (the “Experts”); total number of unique visitors exceeded 200,000, ~ 15,000 unique visitors of online events, ~ 4,000 recurrent monthly visitors, ~600 direct requests to experts. MEREZHA became the focal point for the EBRD in supporting MSMEs’ access to business knowledge, when the delivery of alternative offline methods became challenging due to Covid-19.
Currently the platform architecture includes a number of features (MSME-to-expert matchmaking module, email notifications, configurable MSME account, configurable expert account, expert statistics, appoint-the-meeting functionality, integrations with Zoom and YouControl services, separate analytical module, business self-assessment module etc.) and various content types (expert profiles, expert video introductions, expert success stories, video recordings of online events, MSME requests to experts and others).
In the forthcoming Assignment, the Consultant will need to conduct software engineering, research, strategic marketing, promotion, user support and other activities in order to support and bring the platform to the new level of its development. The Consultant will need to put special focus on the following priorities: a) increase in the number of direct transactions between MSMEs and business experts; b) harmonization of various online tools on the platform in the single well-balanced system for MSMEs; c) organizational, marketing and technical support to partnership initiatives with various MSMEs-oriented stakeholders.
Objectives of the project
The main objective of the project is to increase the effectiveness of interactions between MSMEs and providers of professional services, strengthen advisory market infrastructure, improve overall transparency and level of trust between market participants.
The overall objectives of the project are:
- To support knowledge-seeking MSMEs in accessing relevant business expertise from the leading local subject matter experts.
- To encourage providers of professional services to promote their services on the platform and share their experience with MSMEs.
- To stimulate direct interactions between MSMEs and business experts in various formats.
- To raise awareness among MSMEs on the business support activities, conducted by the EBRD and partner institutions.
The main activities of the Assignment will include but will not be limited to the following:
- Overall analysis of MSMEs sector from the perspective of its saturation with digital services and availability of complementary online solutions.
- Assessment of the current MEREZHA platform architecture; verification of the adequacy of its functionality and content to the objectives of this Assignment.
- Running research activities, individual interviews, focus groups, polls among MEREZHA current and potential users (both on the MSME and business expert sides) to understand the current perception of the MEREZHA platform and developing respective recommendations.
- Preparation of recommendations on reconfiguration of MEREZHA platform architecture (both features and content) to meet MSMEs needs.
- Development the platform according to the ‘continuous improvement’ principle and make necessary amendments to the platform back-end, front-end, content structure, design, copyrighting, key user messages, analytics etc.
- Rolling-out of regular platform releases in which the platform functionality will be continuously improved, new features and content types will appear based on the ongoing user behaviour analysis and improved user knowledge in accordance with agile methodology.
- Developing new 3-year marketing, promotion and users retention strategy of the platform (key ideas, target groups, messages, and communication channels).
- Conducting marketing and PR campaigns, promotional activities and platform-based online events.
- Running engagement activities for business experts in order to stimulate them to create and develop their profiles and participate in various development programmes for MSMEs on the platform.
- Collaboration with external stakeholders (business schools, business associations, governmental institutions, international organizations etc.), establishing partner initiatives, cross references and API-integrations with online resources, oriented at MSMEs.
Further information regarding the EBRD’s approach to measuring transition impact is available here.
For business opportunities or procurement, contact the client company.
For business opportunities with EBRD (not related to procurement) contact:
Tel: +44 20 7338 7168
Any competitive selections for business opportunities relating to this project will be published on the EBRD's website: Consultancy Procurement Opportunities.
EBRD project enquiries not related to procurement:
Tel: +44 20 7338 7168
Access to Information Policy (AIP)
The AIP sets out how the EBRD discloses information and consults with its stakeholders so as to promote better awareness and understanding of its strategies, policies and operations following its entry into force on 1 January 2020. Please visit the Access to Information Policy page to find out what information is available from the EBRD website.
Specific requests for information can be made using the EBRD Enquiries form
Independent Project Accountability Mechanism (IPAM)
If efforts to address environmental, social or public disclosure concerns with the Client or the Bank are unsuccessful (e.g. through the Client’s Project-level grievance mechanism or through direct engagement with Bank management), individuals and organisations may seek to address their concerns through the EBRD’s Independent Project Accountability Mechanism (IPAM).
IPAM independently reviews Project issues that are believed to have caused (or to be likely to cause) harm. The purpose of the Mechanism is: to support dialogue between Project stakeholders to resolve environmental, social and public disclosure issues; to determine whether the Bank has complied with its Environmental and Social Policy or Project-specific provisions of its Access to Information Policy; and where applicable, to address any existing non-compliance with these policies, while preventing future non-compliance by the Bank.
Please visit the Independent Project Accountability Mechanism webpage to find out more about IPAM and its mandate; how to submit a Request for review; or contact IPAM via email firstname.lastname@example.org to get guidance and more information on IPAM and how to submit a request.