Request for Proposal
Through this Request for Proposal (RFP), the Manoogian Simone Research Fund seeks an established researcher based in an Armenian university and/or team of researchers (with the project leader based in an Armenian university) with a proven experience and ability to analyze the problems hindering the development of online trade and propose useful recommendations for the Armenian Government. A strong research background reflected by a record of publications and/or practical past experience with policy making, program evaluation, e-commerce, SME policy and trade regulations in Armenia and worldwide, as well as knowledge of digitalization practices and experience in business development are highly desirable.
In the modern world when the Internet and information technologies have a critical impact on the economic advancement, the development of e-commerce became an important milestone in shaping digital economies. The promise of significant economic growth places electronic commerce high on many public and private sector agendas, considering it as the key to enterprises’ competitiveness and productivity.
Currently, e-commerce is one of the possible instruments that may be used to stimulate the development of small and medium-sized enterprises in many developing states, since it ensures the access to new markets, increases the efficiency and speed of developing business, eases the process of purchasing goods and commodities from foreign shores and reduces transaction costs.
Despite its tremendous impact on business development, many developing countries like Armenia face major challenges that create impediments for e-commerce to flourish. One of the major obstacles is the absence of comprehensive legislation regulating electronic trade. Secondly, many enterprises in Armenia do not imagine the benefits that they could gain through electronic commerce. That explains why, according to different sources, only 35% of companies in Armenia have the necessary tools to make sales through their websites even if 80% of enterprises do have corporate websites.
Apart from the flaws in legislation both the users of Internet and enterprises lack necessary competences and literacy to engage in electronic commerce activities. According to the survey conducted by the World Bank and Ameria Management Advisory, only 17% of SMEs have online sales. More than half of SMEs which mentioned about having online sales mention that only less than 10% of their sales is realized by online sales. Only 15.6% among those who mentioned online sales are using e-commerce marketplace websites. The statistics proves that the obstacles hindering the development of electronic trade have not only environmental and institutional cores but also deeply concern the capacity, literacy and competences of both the SMEs and the Internet users.
All in all, the development of e-commerce will require a re-examination of the framework for conducting business and a questioning both of the efficacy of Government policies pertaining to commerce and of traditional commercial practices and procedures, most of which were formed with a much different image of commerce in mind.
The objective is to assist the Government of Armenia in establishing an enabling environment to boost trade through electronic services and promote digital transformation of the Armenian SMEs.
3. SCOPE OF THE WORK, TASKS AND DELIVERABLES
The research is expected to bring evidence to answer the following questions:
- a) What are the impediments for the SMEs to adopt e-commerce practices?
- b) How can the state intervene to promote e-commerce among SMEs in Armenia?
Tasks and deliverables
Task 1. Identification of barriers in the field of e-commerce among SMEs
It is critical to acknowledge the barriers that SMEs face when confronted with the requirement to implement e-commerce to maintain their operations and increase competitiveness. The Researcher(s) should explore current legislative regulations regarding e-commerce and pinpoint any issues that need institutional and legal reforms. Further, through primary and secondary data collection, the challenges SMEs face in practice should be examined.
To ensure the representativeness of the study, the State Revenue Committee will provide a comprehensive list of the SMEs in the country.
Task 2. Assessment of the best international practice
The Researcher(s) should explore successful practices and policies of e-commerce development among SMEs in other countries paying special attention to the ones with comparable economic background.
Task 3. Policy recommendations for Armenia
Based on the best international practice, the Researcher(s) should address the challenges SMEs face when adopting e-commerce practices, suggesting policy recommendations and a comprehensive action plan with specific activities for promoting e-commerce among the Armenian SMEs.
4. LOGISTICS AND TIMING
The research team will be responsible for its own logistics (including getting to/from meetings and site visit locations as required.)
5. EXPERTS REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE
Outstanding research background reflected by a record of publications and/or practical past experience with policy making, program evaluation, e-Commerce and trade regulations in Armenia and worldwide, as well as knowledge of digitalization practices and experience in business development.
Funds are awarded on the basis of a competitive selection process that ranks applicants according to their research price/outputs/methodology and relevant professional experience).
- The MSRF funding is administered by the American University of Armenia in collaboration with the Armenian Government. MSRF Committee ranks all applications in accordance with their experience and ability to perform.