By: Rebecca Furth, Senior Technical Advisor, Initiatives Inc.

Photo Credit: “Hillbrow And Braamfontein, Johannesburg” by Paul Saad, used under Creative Commons

All Photos Are Copyright To Paul Saad, Unauthorised Use Is Not Allowed Without Prior Permission. © All rights reserved ©

On November 1st and 2nd, 2016, Initiatives attended the USAID Africa Missions Small Business Conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa. This first-ever international event brought together representatives from over 18 USAID Africa Missions, more than 125 US small businesses, 15 large businesses, and 7 federal agencies to discuss small business engagement in USAID’s work. The conference provided an opportunity for USAID to increase awareness of its small business engagement goals, provide information to small businesses on how to work with USAID and connect with missions, and broaden the understanding of USAID Africa Missions on using US small businesses. 

Several key takeaways from this conference are worth mentioning. For the first time, USAID has small business participation goals for Missions. The Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization’s (OSDBU) small business prime contracting goals for 2017 overall are 11.5 percent, and 18 percent for sub-contracting. USAID noted its intent to monitor prime contractor small business plans more closely.

Indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts have been an important mechanism for increasing small business engagement. Under the evaluation IDIQ, over $100 million has been awarded to US small businesses, amounting to 39 percent of the evaluation portfolio. Given the chatter that USAID may be moving away from this mechanism, what could this mean for small businesses? It may signify more contracting opportunities from Missions. Missions are on a learning curve, and it will be interesting to see what the next year will bring. We’re already noticing new opportunities emerge such as the Kenya HIV Service Delivery Support Activity small business set aside. We’re certainly glad to see USAID making this commitment to improving small business participation, and we look forward to what the next year will bring.