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World Bank

* The following content has been prepared by the Office of Liaison with the World Bank, located at our Embassy of Canada to the United States of America.

With 189 member countries, the World Bank Group (WB) is the largest multilateral development bank (MDB) and the only MDB that is not bound to a specific region. Its mission is to help people help themselves and their environment by providing resources, sharing knowledge, building capacity and forging partnerships in the public and private sectors. Please visit our World Bank Fact Sheet.

The World Bank Group is currently involved in more than 1,800 projects in virtually every sector and developing country. In FY2016, the WB provided US$64.2 billion in loans, grants, equity investments, and guarantees to its members and to private businesses, for projects in developing countries worldwide. Its investments generated around 40,000 contracts, ranging in size from a few thousand dollars, to multimillion dollar expenditures for the delivery of a vast range of goods and services. The WB provides an extensive array of services and advice and facilitates private sector finance and investment in developing countries. The World Bank Group is made up of five institutions:

IBRD and IDA are the World Bank Group's instruments for public lending. Together they are referred to as the World Bank (WB). IBRD provides low-interest loans to middle income and creditworthy poor countries. IDA is the world's largest source of interest-free loans and grants to the poorest countries, many of which are in Africa. IDA's funds are replenished every three years by donor countries.

Through IBRD and IDA the World Bank offers two basic types of loans and credits: development policy operations, which provide financing to support a country's policy and institutional reforms and investment operations, which countries can invest in development projects in a broad range of economic and social sectors. Investment projects generate procurement of goods, works and services and therefore, business opportunities. The procurement process for both institutions is the same.

The WB's most important development themes include: Financial and Private Sector Development; Public Sector Governance; Rural Development; and Social Protection and Risk Management. Please visit our World Bank Fact Sheet for details on procurement within these themes.

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Country Strategies

The purpose of the WB Country Partnership Framework (CPF) - also called in some cases Country Assistance Strategy or Joint Assistance Strategy - is to describe the strategic priorities and composition of its support to a country over the next 4 to 5 years. The CPF begins with the country's vision for its own long-term development and, is further developed by the Bank in close collaboration with other stakeholders. The CPF provides companies with the earliest indication of possible World Bank-financed business opportunities in a developing country.

Project Cycle

The World Bank project cycle consists of 7 stages: Identification, Preparation, Appraisal and Negotiation, Approval, Implementation, Completion and Evaluation. A complete cycle can take from 1 to 10 years.

Project Identification

The World Bank works with a borrowing country's government and other stakeholders, to determine how financial and other assistance can be designed to have the largest impact. The World Bank and the government agree on an initial project concept and its beneficiaries, then the Bank's project team outlines the basic elements.

Documents available during this stage include:

Project Preparation

During this phase the World Bank takes an advisory role. The government is responsible for project preparation, which includes conducting feasibility studies and preparing engineering and technical designs, environmental assessment reports and social impact studies. The Bank does provide a Project Preparation Fund, which enables the borrower to contract external consultants for this work, if necessary.

Documents available during this stage include:

Project Appraisal and Negotiation

The government and the World Bank review the work done during the identification and preparation phases and confirm the expected project outcomes, intended beneficiaries and evaluation tools for monitoring progress. They reach an agreement on the viability of all aspects of the project and on a project timetable.

Project Approval

The project team prepares the project appraisal, along with other financial and legal documents. The proposed loan and project require approval by the Bank's Board of Executive Directors.

Documents available during this stage include:

Project Implementation

The Implementing Agency in the borrowing country is responsible for the implementation of the project. With technical assistance from the Bank, it prepares the specifications for the project and carries out all procurement of goods, works and services needed, as well as any environmental and social impact assessments.

Documents available during this stage include:

Project Completion

The World Bank and the borrower document results achieved, any problems encountered and lessons learned.


The Bank's Independent Evaluation Group will assess the performance of approximately one out of every four projects, measuring outcomes against the original objectives, sustainability of results and institutional development impact.

Procurement Process

As of July 1, 2016, the procurement process of World Bank has been updated to a new, modern and business-friendly Procurement Framework. This modernized approach means greater focus on value for money, more ways for bidders to differntiate bids, and more opportunities for dialogue and discussion. The borrower continues to be responsible for carrying out procurement activities in accordance with these procurement regulations and, the Bank's role continues to include implementation support, monitoring and procurement oversight, under a risk-based approach.

Under the new procurement framework, there are four key innovations to help businesses and country clients:

Projects that were approved prior to July 1, 2016, continue to fall under the procurement procedures defined by these two documents:

Project and Procurement Information

During the early phases of project development, governments in borrowing countries and WB staff in field offices and at headquarters, are good sources of information. Another source is the WB website where most of the information that a firm needs to pursue WB-funded business opportunities, can be found. However, the WB website contains so much data that it is often difficult for firms to find the information they need. The following references will guide you to the more important sections of the website:

General business information:

Project information:

For a guide on “How to Conduct a Basic WB Project Information Search”, contact OLIFI Washington for a copy.

Procurement information:

Suppliers of Goods, Works and Non-Consulting Services

Open competition is the basis for efficient public procurement. World Bank guidelines demand borrowers to select the most appropriate procurement method and can depend on a number of factors including the type and value of the good or service and, the interest of foreign bidders. The preferred method for larger contracts is International Competitive Bidding (ICB), with or without the allowance for domestic preference. Under ICB the borrower awards the contract to the bidder whose bid is substantially responsive and who offers the lowest evaluated cost.

Prequalification is usual for large or complex works, or if the high cost of preparing a bid would discourage competition. It is based entirely upon the capability and resources of prospective bidders. Other methods for procuring goods and civil works include National Competitive Bidding, and International Shopping.

Consultants and Consulting Services

Five principles guide WB policy on the selection of consultants: high-quality services; economy and efficiency; equal opportunity; transparency and the encouragement of the use of national consultants. In most cases the preferred selection method is Quality and Cost-Based Selection (QCBS); a competition among qualified short-listed firms in which the selection is based on the quality of the proposal and to a lesser extent, on the cost of the services to be provided. Other methods for selecting consultants include Quality-Based Selection (QBS) and Least-Cost Selection (LCS).

Opportunities for consultants exist in almost every stage of the project cycle. It is very common for the WB task team, as well as the borrower to hire external expertise during the development phases of the project. The borrower too may need external consultants for preparation activities including feasibility studies, project design, environment assessment and social impact studies.

During the project implementation and completion phases, consultants may be hired for project and procurement management, supervision, various types of studies, technical advisory services, training, capacity building and institutional strengthening.

Besides IBRD and IDA the private sector arm of the WBG generates opportunities for consultants. IFC provides technical assistance in business, finance, environmental and social sustainability and infrastructure.

Corporate Procurement

In addition to the operational procurement conducted by borrowers or executing agencies, the WB also spends approximately US$1 billion per year for its own internal requirements for its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and, its field offices worldwide. This form of procurement consists of administrative procurements and, operations consulting. Together, they are commonly refered to as corporate procurement.

For administrative procurements, the WB procures a wide variety of goods and services, including: information technology, communications equipment and services, office equipment and supplies, graphic design and print services, training and consulting. Conducted by the Bank's Corporate Procurement Unit, Requests for Proposals (RFP) and Invitations for Bids (IFB) are issued for contracts above US$250,000. For very small contracts, it will purchase without formal competition. The World Bank maintains an approved vendor database. Vendors do not have to be registered to participate in a bidding process however; their registration must be approved before they are awarded a contract. On the other hand, completion of the registration form does not automatically lead to inclusion in the vendor master file: the Bank only processes applications from vendors who are about to sign a contract.

World Bank corporate procurement also generates many opportunities for consultants, specifically in operations consulting, which can include project identification, preparation, appraisal, supervision, evaluation, analytical and technical advisory activities, policy and program work, research, training, and activities associated with various partnership programs. Requests for Expressions of Interest for consultants hired directly by the World Bank for assignments over US$50,000 are published on UN Development Business as well as on the World Bank's new eConsultant2 website.

eConsultant2 is a free and secure, web-based tool that supports consulting firms doing business with the WB. eConsultant2 allows firms to view opportunities, express interest, obtain documents, send proposals, and communicate with the Bank in a secure, online environment. While the 'opportunities' section of the eConsultant2 is open to all consultants, the 'electronic selection' application is currently designed to support consulting firms only. In the future, the system may be modified to support individual consultants.

The WB's Supplier Diversity Program intends to increase business participation of Minority, Women and Disabled Owned Business Enterprises (MWDBE) by direct contracting, and by subcontracting through the Bank's prime contractors.

Private Sector Lending

The World Bank has long recognized that private sector development was an important theme worthy of sovereign loans and grant contributions aimed at strengthening environments and systems to facilitate private sector development within borrowing member countries. Part of the larger World Bank Group, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is the lending arm entirely focused on supporting the private sector. Established in 1956, the IFC provides various forms of direct investments as well as, advisory services to build private sector capacity in developing countries and, asset management services. Each year, the IFC commits billions of its own funds towards private sector investments in developing countries. Each dollar of IFC capital leads to about $20 of total project financing, including co-financing from other investors.

While there is no standard application for financing, there are general criteria that must be met to qualify for IFC financing, and companies are invited to contact the IFC directly with inquiries. Contact details for field office staff as well as sector-specific investment specialists, can generally be found on the IFC’s website.

The IFC’s corporate procurement is managed by the World Bank’s Corporate Procurement eConsultant2 system, so Canadian firms and consultants are encouraged to familiarize themselves with this platform.

Trust Funds

World Bank administered trust funds are another source of consulting opportunities. Trust funds are financing arrangements set up with contributions from donor governments, foundations and private institutions, that are held and disbursed by the Bank who acts as a trustee. The Bank offers 3 types of trust funds to support its poverty reduction programs: by funding key due diligence activities for development operations, promoting innovative approaches, and expanding development collaboration.

For years, Canada contributed to the "tied" Consultant Trust Funds (CTF) program however in 2004, the WB discontinued trust funds that imposed nationality restrictions on procurement, in favour of "untied" multi-donor funds. Canada continues to be a donor to many funds that strongly align with the thematic and geographic priorities of the Canadian government.

Business Approach

Firms are advised to focus on countries, sectors and projects where they have expertise, experience and local partnerships.

The pipelines stages of the project provide many opportunities for consultants, but keep in mind that the World Bank's 'Conflict of Interest' clause prevents a consultant and its affiliates form providing services during the project implementation that are related to an assignment during the project preparation.

A good time to meet with staff is often right after you have visited the country in which the project is located. Be sure to have read all the relevant project documentation. Names of Task Team Leaders are given at the end of Project Information Documents. December and August can be difficult months to arrange meetings.

When visiting a country, make time to learn about future opportunities that may arise in Bank-financed projects. Contact the Bank's country office and seek information on projects in specific sectors of interest, particularly projects in implementation.

Experience indicates that companies are more likely to win a contract if they have had regular contact with the implementing agency prior to a SPN or RFP being issued. Details of the agency are given in the MOS, PID and PAD.

Trust funds can only be accessed by Bank staff, not by consultants. However, they are not always aware of the existence or possibilities of (smaller) trust funds. Firms that have identified a need that could be solved by use of a specific trust fund could indicate this to the appropriate Bank staff.

In addition to all World Bank financed opportunities subject to ICB, UN Development Business posts procurement information and notices by other development banks, national governments and United Nations agencies. Basic subscription for both this service is about US$550 annually.

Firms are not obliged to work with a local partner, but it often provides many advantages, including language proficiency; knowledge of business culture and customs; access to local networks and insight in the project. The World Bank also maintains a system of domestic preferences, which can be as high as 15 percent of the price for goods and services and 20 percent of the points in selection of consultants.

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