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Request for Proposal (RFP) Number: 010
RFP Title: Accounting Strategy, Audit, and Process Improvement
Innovator: Standard Microgrid
Support Category: Fundraising/Investment Readiness/Financial Systems
Date of Issuance: May 27, 2020
Closing Date for Questions: June 3, 2020 at 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time
Response to Questions: June 10, 2020 at 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time
Closing Date for Submission Proposal: June 17, 2020 at 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time
Background and Context

Many social enterprises and entrepreneurs face common challenges in their efforts to grow and scale
their businesses and their impact. Access to capital, though a widespread challenge, is not the only
barrier inhibiting growth. To address these challenges, Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), through
its Venture Assistance Program, supports grantees to address core organizational challenges in order to
grow and scale their organizations, focusing on maximizing impact and long-term sustainability.

 
About DIV
DIV ( https://www.usaid.gov/div ) is USAID’s open innovation competition that supports breakthrough
solutions to the world’s most intractable development challenges—interventions that could change
millions of lives at a fraction of the usual cost. DIV seeks to bring in new ideas for solving problems
facing millions around the world – delivering more impact, for less money, with greater potential for
sustainable scale. Inspired by the venture capital experience, DIV uses a tiered, evidence-based funding
model to test ideas, gather evidence of what works, find failures quickly and cheaply, without long-term
commitments, and continue to support only proven solutions.
DIV is relentlessly focused on three evaluation criteria: rigorous evidence of impact, cost-effectiveness,
and pathway to scale through the private or public sectors. DIV accepts proposals, across three stages,
year-round from any type of organization, in any sector and country in which USAID operates:
Stage 1: Proof of Concept / Initial Testing (up to $200,000)
Stage 2: Testing and Positioning for Scale (up to $1,500,000)
Stage 3: Transitioning Proven Solutions to Scale (up to $5,000,000)
Evidence: Support for research and evaluations that generate rigorous evidence of an innovation’s
impact per dollar and potential for expansion (up to $1,500,000)
 

Grantee Overview:
According to the World Bank, 1.2 billion of the world’s 7.6 billion people do not have access to
electricity; in Zambia, 74% of the population — and 97% of rural Zambians — lack electricity. To solve this
problem in a transformative way, Standard Microgrid has developed the technology and business model
that would allow any construction/engineering firm to build and operate a microgrid―thereby
distributing the efforts to electrify Africa through a scalable and replicable franchise model. Aptly as
their name suggests, Standard Microgrid has standardized each step in the process of building,
operating, and servicing microgrids to truly leverage economies of scale and make access to quality,
reliable, affordable energy a reality to over 12 million Zambians and 600 million Sub-Saharan Africans in
rural communities.

Standard Microgrid has reimagined “power as a service” through its flexible, modular components and
proprietary grid management tools that are fully contained in a 20’ shipping container. The 13kW
microgrid can be deployed in 3 days and has the capacity for up to 150 connections―delivering one of
the lowest cost per connection in the industry. On the premise that customers value energy differently,
Standard Microgrid developed the PowerTime TM pricing model to sell energy based on the number and
types of devices connected to its smart switches and allows flexible pricing plans to meet individual
customer’s ability to pay. Electrified rural communities can benefit from productive use of energy-based
income generation, entrepreneurship, education, and public safety.
 

Organizational Challenge
Standard Microgrid has evolved over the years from a small, US-based consulting services company to a
complex multinational corporate structure, headquartered in the U.S. with subsidiaries in South Africa
and Zambia. This creates significant accounting complexity, requiring systems and processes that
address transfer pricing, intercompany transactions, transactions in five currencies, and accounting and
tax requirements for three countries.
Standard Microgrid’s corporate structure evolved to manage operational needs efficiently as well as
take advantage of regional funding opportunities. However, while the company is able to maintain
financial records and adequately reconcile its company-wide accounts, it will benefit from additional
support to ensure that accruals, reconciliations, and tax filings were done properly (looking backwards),
and improve standard operating procedures and internal controls (looking forwards). Accounting
complexities, especially intercompany transactions in multiple currencies, have made accounting an
administrative burden and sometimes contribute to delays, holding up procurements necessary for
project implementation.

 
Objective
This service is intended to review existing accounting/financial documents, tax filings, and standard
operating procedures and internal controls, and create/implement improved processes that can
accommodate Standard Microgrid’s current corporate structure and future growth. The service will
review the company’s compliance with the financial reporting and tax requirements of the jurisdictions
in which it operates as well as the tax implications of the company’s current and expected future
corporate structure. The end result of this engagement must provide Standard Microgrid with updated
standard operating procedures related to finance and accounting. The procedures must be implemented
and tested to ensure that Standard Microgrid is capable of processing transactions in an accurate and
timely manner to free up executive bandwidth, and allow management to use the company’s financial
records to forecast needs across all countries of current operations, namely United States, South Africa,
and Zambia, and in consideration of possible future growth into other countries.

 

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