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USAID Small and Medium Enterprise Activity (SMEA) has launched the 2nd cycle of “Challenge Fund” Innovation (Solve the Challenge) grant 003.



USAID Small and Medium Enterprise Activity (SMEA) is a five-year project that is supporting Pakistan in SME-led economic growth that will help create jobs, foster entrepreneurship, and contribute to an increased GDP.  USAID SMEA is working towards improving the enabling environment for private sector-led growth. 

Challenge Fund (CF)

The innovations and solutions facilitated through the Challenge Fund grants will help SMEs enhance their competitiveness and result in increased jobs, sales, exports, adoption of technology and new practices, access to finance, access to markets and improved performance of women-led enterprises. CF will provide Innovators and SMEs not only with funds but also access to mentoring and coaching as well.


For the above mentioned project (USAID SMEA – Challenge Fund), USAID SMEAis looking for Business Mentors in the following cities;

  1. Karachi(4th– 6thMarch, 2019)
  2. Lahore(7th– 9thMarch, 2019)
  3. Islamabad(11th– 13thMarch, 2019)

The project intends to engage multiple individuals as Mentors to coach and evaluate the participants of the project. The selection will take place on rolling basis. 


Who is a Mentor

Mentors are at the heart of the Challenge Fund process. They are critical to elevating and evaluating the quality of the competing entrepreneurs and startups. Their role is to facilitate an improvement of not only the business model but to enhance the Entrepreneur’s view of how to achieve success. 

The challenges and obstacles of starting a new company are easier to navigate with the guidance of an experienced role model, what we have come to know as a mentor. In the entrepreneur realm, mentors play a critical role in the education and development of business building skills of aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators. 

By stepping into the role of Mentor, one is taking on the responsibility of a role model, motivator, advisor, coach, and door-opener, knowing that the reward is in seeing the successes and failures of the entrepreneur you are mentoring.


Mentors contribute to the growth of entrepreneurs by coaching them through experiences and skills that cannot be learned in schools. The real world experiences that a mentor has gone through are vital to achieve the goals and objectives of entrepreneurs. Successful mentors have a combination of the following experiences:

  1. .       Has been a business owner and/or entrepreneur for many years 
  2. .       Has had the authority and responsibility to make managerial decisions
  3. .       Has been active in business development and fundraising
  4. .       Has been responsible for day-to-day management and human resource building
  5. .       Has had a history of successes and failures  
  6. .       Understand the keys to growing a successful business 

  7. .       Understand the universal elements of developing a viable business model 
and innovation 
  8. .       Are creative thinkers 

  9. .       Have empathy towards Entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial process

The bottom line is that Entrepreneurs are a different breed, with lots of ideas and a desire to demonstrate how to turn those ideas into a business. They require support in “focusing” their ideas in an effort to transform them into a profitable venture. Mentors are vital in supporting this goal.

Extreme Build A Business workshop

Shortlisted applicants will be invited for a two-day workshop to assist them in developing their Business Model with the help of mentors. 

The workshops are highly experiential, mentorship-driven programs designed to visually facilitate participants through the universal steps required to start and build a viable business.


The Mentor shall be responsible for

(a) Mentor will receive a one day virtual trainingand orientation by the partnering body before the EBAB workshop. (Each training day will be of approximately 4 hours)

(b)Mentor will receive one day one-on-one trainingwith the partnering body.

(c)  Mentor will coachand evaluatethe shortlisted participants and their ideas in a two day Extreme Build a Business workshop.

(d) Mentor will receive two daysof advanced virtual trainingafter the EBAB workshop. (Each training day will be of approximately 4 hours).



The successful applicants will be required to execute the assignment in the following manner: 

(e)  Execution of a standard contract with USAID SMEA. 

(f)    Implementation of the assignment as per agreed framework in coordination with USAID SMEA & the development partners. 



Mentors should be experienced entrepreneurs or business professionals who care about supporting new founders and existing startups and/or entrepreneurs on their business journey. 

  1. .       Experienced entrepreneurs who have started and built businesses. 

  2. .       Experienced business professionals that have written and executed on business plans previously. 

  3. .       Having experience with the specific sector or the challenges would be important (at the same time they should not be currently working for a firm or organization that could benefit from the Challenge Grants). 

  4. .       Investors who have worked with startups and SMEs. 

  5. .       Business development experts
  6. .       Specilized experts preferably in ICT, Hospitality, Logistics, Textile (excluding spinning), Agri-businesses and processing (off-farm only)  Light Engineering Sectors and Women-owned enterprises.



Interested individuals may submit their EoI on “[email protected]” or through courier on “The Indus Entrepreneurs, Office 1-5, 2nd floor, Select One Plaza, F-11 Markaz, Islamabad” with a subject line that reads “EoI for USAID SMEA Challenge Fund-Innovation Grant-RFA-003” before 15thFebruray 2019including:

a. Statement of Interest 

b. Curriculum Vitae for Individuals 

c. Brief profile i.e. education, experience, projects etc. 


NOTE: Applications shall be shortlisted, evaluated and finalized on rolling bases at the end of each week, hence it is requested to apply as soon as possible rather than waiting for end date.