Financial Diaries to Understand the Economic Context of PMTCT Retention and Adherence in Malawi


RFP Title:


Financial Diaries to Understand the Economic Context of PMTCT Retention and Adherence in Malawi

RFP Number:



Issue Date:


December 13, 2017




The ASPIRES Project





The key dates for this RFP process are shown below:


December 15, 2017         RFP released to potential subcontractors.


December 22, 2017         Submission of questions or requests for clarification in writing via email to:

 Lara Lorenzetti at Email: 

with copy to Mandy Swann at Email:

and Meredith Cann at Email: by 5 pm EST.  

Contacting individual employees may be cause for disqualification. No Telephone Inquiries Will Be Answered


December 29, 2017         Response to submitted questions posted on


January 19, 2018              Submission of proposal due by 5 pm EST via email to Lara Lorenzetti at Email: 

with copy to Meredith Cann at Email:


February 2, 2018               Selected candidate notified on or about this date. 


March 1, 2018                    Anticipated contract start date. Start date is subject to change. 



The purpose of this Request for Proposals (RFP) is to solicit applications for an 8-month subcontract to develop and conduct, in coordination with FHI 360, the research study entitled, “Financial Diaries to Understand the Economic Context of PMTCT Retention and Care in Malawi.”

The Accelerating Strategies for Practical Innovation and Research in Economic Strengthening (ASPIRES) project is managed by FHI 360, a non-profit human development organization.  ASPIRES supports evidence-based, gender-sensitive programming to improve the economic security and well-being outcomes of vulnerable families and children, particularly those infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS, and others at high risk of acquiring HIV. ASPIRES is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), under Award No. AID-OAA-LA-13-00001.

ASPIRES develops evidence-based economic strengthening (ES) interventions for vulnerable populations, particularly those affected by HIV. Community-based services can complement clinical HIV services by addressing critical barriers to care, such as poverty and stigma, and support the achievement of HIV-related health outcomes. ES programs, in particular, can address the economic determinants of poor health outcomes for specific populations, including women initiated in prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV programs. In Malawi, enrollment in PMTCT programs improved under the roll-out of Option B+, wherein HIV-positive pregnant and breastfeeding mothers immediately begin a three-drug ART regimen which should be continued for life. However, poor adherence to the PMTCT treatment protocol and loss to follow-up continue to pose challenges to eliminating new HIV infections in infants. The barriers to retention in PMTCT care are well-documented, highlighting various social and economic challenges. Few studies have examined how ES interventions can increase retention and adherence to PMTCT care. The dearth of information regarding the financial lives of women enrolled in PMTCT care creates a challenge for program implementers wishing to tailor and deliver ES interventions to this population.

ASPIRES seeks to implement a Financial Diaries (FD) study in Zomba district in Malawi. The FD approach is a method of collecting high frequency panel data on the cash and in-kind inflows and outflows managed by an individual or household. Specifically, we plan for seven months of data collection on the weekly income and expenditures of pregnant women and new mothers (PWNM) enrolled in PMTCT care. This includes a one month pilot period allowing both participants and data collectors to become familiar with the approach and its requirements. FD data will be linked with medical record data on measures of PMTCT retention and baseline/endline survey data to identify financial tipping points and other individual-level characteristics associated with retention in care. We will also conduct a community assessment to understand how community-level variables may influence both the economic behavior (economic opportunities, ability to withstand and recuperate from economic shocks, etc.) of PWNM and their ability to participate in PMTCT care. Taken together, these analyses will inform recommendations for ES programming for women enrolled in PMTCT.

To achieve our strategic objectives, our study will include quantitative and qualitative data collection activities taking place in 3 sites (3 health facilities) within Zomba district. We will purposively sample one health facility from a rural, peri-urban, and urban setting. At each of these sites, our data collection approach will include:

  • 300 weekly FD interviews (100 per site)
  • 300 Baseline and endline questionnaires (100 per site at each time point)
  • 48 in-depth interviews (IDIs) with FD participants at baseline, midline, and endline (16 per site at each time point)
  • 12 focus group discussions (FGDs) with FD participants and non-participants in Month 2 and Month 5 (4 per site at each time point)
  • 12 FGDs with community men and women at endline (4 per site)
  • 11 Key informant interviews (KIIs) at endline (5 national + 2 per site)
  • Clinical records data collection for 300 FD participants at baseline, midline, and endline


We are seeking a local data collection firm that can assist with the collection of these data via varying modalities.


The objective of this RFP is to identify a subcontractor to, in coordination with FHI 360, fulfill quantitative and qualitative data collection activities for the financial diaries study outlined above during the period set forth in this subcontract. The subcontractor will primarily be responsible for data collection but will also contribute to sampling and recruitment of participants. Below is a summary of the work plan.



The Recipient will be responsible for leading implementation logistics, obtaining necessary local and national approvals (including liaison the Ministry of Health and the local IRB, as needed), and carrying out all data collection and management activities. Depending on the expertise of the selected applicant, they may also have the opportunity to provide intellectual contributions to select project reports or manuscripts.

Multiple recipients may be awarded if it is determined the work may be split amongst multiple partners.

The activities to be conducted under this subcontract must be done in accordance with the approved protocol and standards of research ethics, and any subsequent approved revisions, which provide a detailed description of activities. A study manual or set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) will also be developed through collaboration between the Recipient and FHI 360 to further refine the activities.

Activities under this scope are expected to include:

  • Provide feedback, as possible given the timeline, on proposed study processes, tools and documents in English and Chichewa, and other areas as needed.
  • Coordinate with appropriate stakeholders and partners in all aspects of project planning, implementation, and monitoring.
  • Conduct preparatory activities including but not limited to coordination with in-country IRB for study approval, obtaining other national or local approvals as necessary, and conducting approved staff ethics training.
  • Reserve spaces needed for all trainings, meetings, and interviews associated with the study.
  • Disburse payments to health facilities, participant FD incentives, and travel reimbursements to FGD and IDI participants, in accordance with the study operating procedures.
  • Generate detailed data collection plans and schedules, including logistics and tracking participants over the study period, timeline, locations, supervision, and quality control measures.
  • During data collection training, test FD and baseline survey data collection approach using tablets furnished by FHI 360.
  • Provide input on and be responsible for adhering to data management plan, including storage of instruments and data over the study period, and protection of participant confidentiality.
  • Identify, hire, and supervise qualified staff as needed to complete activities.
  • In collaboration with FHI 360, prepare for, participate in, and arrange for initial study training for all study staff members on study methods, instruments, and research ethics and relevant post-training activities.
  • In coordination with FHI 360, liaise with PMTCT implementing partners and Ministry of Health representatives on issues such as site (health facility) selection and generating participant sample lists.
  • Conduct data collection activities.  This will include all of the following:
    • Weekly financial diary interviews with all participants (n=300) for seven months, which includes one month of pilot data collection and six months of data to be analyzed.
    • Baseline and endline questionnaire with all FD participants (n=300)
    • IDIs at baseline, midline, and endline with 16 FD participants in each site (n=48 at each time point)
    • FGDs with FD participants and non-participants at two time points (the beginning of month 2 and month 5). This will include 4 FGDs per site, each with up to 10 participants, totaling 12 FGDs with up to 120 participants at each time point.  Half of the FGDs will be with FD participants and half with non-FD participants.
    • FGDs with women and men in the community at endline. This will include 4 FGDs per site, each with up to 10 participants, totaling 12 FGDs with up to 120 community members.  Half of the FGDs will be with women and half with men.
    • KIIs at endline (n = 11, which includes 2 with community leaders per site and 5 district level government ministry KIIs)
    • Clinical record data collection for all FD participants at baseline, midline, and endline. This will include working with health facility staff to collect existing health data for all FD participants using electronic and/or paper records.  These clinical data points will be collected for the entire data collection period and will include the data related to the following metrics, as available and reliable:
      • Completion of scheduled clinical visits for mother and baby throughout study window
      • Medication pick-up for maternal treatment
      • Maternal viral load
      • Delivery in a health facility
      • Initiation of infant prophylaxis
      • Retention in care at 6 weeks post-partum
      • Completion of DNA PCR infant testing at 6 weeks
      • Infant HIV test results
  • Lead data management in accordance with study protocol, data management plan and any other relevant standard operating procedures.
  • Transcribe and translate IDI and FGD transcripts into English.
  • Conduct quality checks of FD interviews across all sites.
  • Submit all data collection reports and transcripts weekly to FHI 360.
  • While data analysis will be led by FHI360, depending on the interests and expertise of the selected firm and as agreed-upon with FHI 360, the Recipient may be asked to provide feedback on findings or contribute to discrete portions of project reports/manuscripts.
  • Submit regular financial reports. Reporting frequency will be determined by a pre-award assessment by FHI 360.
  • Provide logistical support upon request to FHI 360 staff for research monitoring or other collaborative visits. An estimated 2-3 study monitoring visits are planned over the data collection period.
  • Submit regular work updates and participate in regular calls with FHI 360 (at least bi-weekly). Maintain open communication with FHI 360, particularly with respect to any changes in implementation, implementation challenges, social harms, protocol violations, or other concerns that may arise. 
  • Provide monthly progress reports and an end of project report on data collection implementation and administrative progress and challenges.


Table 1. Data collection activities


Sample Size (Total)

Per site

Time points

Financial Diaries



Weekly interviews over 7 months

Baseline/Endline Questionnaire



Baseline, endline




Baseline, midline, endline





FD Participants



Month 2, month 5




Month 2, month 5

Community FGDs
















Clinical Data



Baseline, midline, endline

*2 KIIs/site will be conducted with community leaders in each site; the remaining 5 KIIs will be conducted at the district-level


FHI 360’s ASPIRES Team will be responsible for:

  • Formal communications between USAID and the subcontractor
  • Oversight of protocol and instrument development
  • Providing randomization procedures and materials (with input from Recipient)
  • Oversight of the quality and ethical conduct of the research (with support from Recipient)
  • IRB submission in the United States and Malawi (with support from Recipient in follow up submissions and communications)
  • Data analysis
  • Dissemination of findings



Below is the estimate of the data collection timeline. The Recipient would need to exhibit flexibility in timelines dependent on outside factors.


Figure 1. Data Collection Timeline


There will be a peer reviewed publication of the study led by the FHI 360 Project Leaders. Depending on the interests and expertise of the Recipient, and with the approval of FHI 360, the Recipient’s study lead(s) may provide intellectual contributions to this or other publications related to this study. All publications or presentations will conform to current FHI 360 policies and procedures (copies of these documents will be provided to all collaborators). The Recipient may not publish any data collected in this study without prior written approval from FHI 360.



At this stage, the procurement mechanism for funding this opportunity is considered to be a cost-reimbursement subcontract, but the final decision will be determined upon completion of FHI 360’s Pre-Award Assessment of the successful offeror. .



Proposals must be prepared in English and delivered electronically by 5:00 pm EST in accordance with the instructions on page 1.


All submissions should include: 

  1. Description of proposed data collection approach, including staffing plan, oversight, and quality assurance mechanisms, for the research as described in the Scope of Work section above (max 8 pages) demonstrating:
    1. Professional experience and credentials for the study leadership team and demonstrated success in high-frequency prospective research methods, as well as qualitative methods.
    2. Overall strong experience in conducting public health and/or economic development studies.
    3. Strong experience organizing and managing large field teams for complicated data collection tasks.
    4. Demonstrated experience in working with tablets or other digital data collection methods to facilitate the process
    5. Ability to reach and connect with ethics committees and/or government officials to obtain necessary authorizations for data collection and to keep them apprised of study progress.

 Also note:

  • Proposals are expected to name 1 – 3 key personnel (see below).
  • Agencies must also provide a description of location(s) of presence relevant to this RFP.  Agencies with research experience in Zomba district are preferred.
  • FHI 360 is projecting a need for roughly 30 data collectors for the FD portion of the study (i.e. 10 DCs/site; each DC responsible for weekly interviews with 10 women). However, there may be some flexibility in this staffing assumption depending on the Recipient’s capacity and interpretation of staffing needs.


  1. A summary (max. 2 pages) of expertise and experience, highlighting those aspects that are
    particularly relevant to the present assignment.
  2. CV or resume (5 pages maximum each) for all proposed key personnel.
  3. Bio-sketches for all other named personnel
  4. Name and contact details for three relevant references.
  5. Detailed workplan and timeline for completing required tasks (working off the timeline provided in Figure 1 of this RFP).
  6. Budget to be submitted in excel (Budget Template - Attached A) including proposed labor costs, expenses, and other direct costs as well as VAT, if applicable to offeror.  All quotes should be in local currency. Please note that FHI 360 cannot honor costs for exchange rates presented in a budget.  Payments will be made according to the exchange rate at the time of payment.
  7. Budget narrative explaining the budget costs and providing a justification of rates and units.


FHI 360/ASPIRES will accept questions from interested parties through 5:00 pm EST on the date noted on Page 1.  Questions will only be accepted in writing. All emailed questions must contain the subject line “FHI 360/ASPIRES – Financial Diaries.”



Applications received under this Request will be evaluated and ranked by a committee, in accordance with the following criteria:


1. Capabilities and Experience: reflects understanding of the ASPIRES scope and matches firm's capacities with required activities

  • Geographical experience, including working with local IRB
  • Experience researching impact of economic development programs and/or public health programs
  • Qualitative and quantitative data collection experience, including mobile and electronic data collection methods


2. Personnel: relevance of organizational experience to the proposed task.

  • Key personnel qualificationsOther key personnel qualifications


3.   Past Performance

  • At least three strong references demonstrated success working with large, complex research studies


4. Budget

  • Cost reasonableness: proposed price costs reflect a clear understanding of the requirements stated in this RFP, and are consistent with the various elements of the application.
  • Proposed price is reasonable in comparison with proposed prices received in response to the solicitation.



Evaluation Criteria


Capabilities and Past Performance/Experience




Past Performance





100 pts


FHI 360 reserves the right to modify the assessment strategy (and this SOW) at any time, based on results and experience.



Disclaimers and FHI 360 Protection Clauses

  1. FHI 360 may cancel solicitation and not award.
  2. FHI 360 may reject any or all responses received.
  3. Issuance of solicitation does not constitute award commitment by FHI 360.
  4. FHI 360 reserves the right to disqualify any offer based on offeror failure to follow solicitation instructions.
  5. FHI 360 will not compensate offerors for response to solicitation.
  6. FHI 360 reserves the right to issue award based on initial evaluation of offers without further discussion.
  7. FHI 360 may choose to award only part of the activities in the solicitation, or issue multiple awards based on the solicitation activities.
  8. FHI 360 reserves the right to waive minor proposal deficiencies that can be corrected prior to award determination to promote competition.
  9. FHI 360 will be contacting offerors to confirm contact person, address and that bid was submitted for this solicitation.


Financial Diaries to Understand the Economic Context of PMTCT Retention and Adherence in Malawi Request for Applications: Q&A

1. We would appreciate more information on how the sample size for the [financial diaries (FD)] analysis (300 women) was arrived at.

The sample size is based on several factors. The 300 women will be sampled from across three sites (urban, peri-urban, and rural) within Zomba district, with 100 women from each site. In addition, we will stratify sampling at each site based on where women are in the PMTCT trajectory at baseline (i.e. the number of months pregnant or post-partum) in order to ensure coverage across a majority of the PMTCT cascade. Our analysis is meant to be descriptive and, given these stratifications, we have determined that the sample size of 300 will allow for identification of trends within sub-groups. This sample size also takes budget and human resource constraints into consideration.

2. In terms of logistics, will the study allow for adequate human resourcing to do this high volume FD data collection?

Yes, all applicants should propose a human resource structure that will support the effective completion of all of the work in the RFP in accordance with the proposed timeline. As noted in section 7 of the RFP, “FHI 360 is projecting a need for roughly 30 data collectors for the FD portion of the study (i.e. 10 DCs/site; each DC responsible for weekly interviews with 10 women). However, there may be some flexibility in this staffing assumption depending on the Recipient’s capacity and interpretation of staffing needs.” The estimate of 30 data collectors is specific to the financial diaries activities and assumes each data collector will complete 10 financial diaries interviews per week (approximately 2 per day x 5 days a week). We anticipate that these interviews will each be approximately 30-60 minutes in duration. Applicants may propose greater or fewer data collectors for this component based on their understanding of the staffing needs in this context. We envision that some of these same data collectors will also be involved in other study components. Specifically, we envision that FD data collectors would be trained to conduct IDIs given that these will occur during the regularly scheduled weekly interview; however, applicants can propose an alternative approach. There may also be a need for additional data collectors for the other study components (i.e. FGDs and/or KIIs). Further, the estimated figure of 30 data collectors for the financial diaries portion of the study does not include supervisory staff or other technical or management roles that are necessary to complete this scope of work. Applicants should propose a complete staffing structure based on their understanding of the requirements of the study and their knowledge of the study context.

Comment on advertised Job

Chelsea D.

3rd of January, 2018 8:48:45 pm

Location: Lilongwe, Malawi

Employment Type: Contractual

Salary: N/A

Job deadline: 19th January, 2018

Company: FHI 360

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