Request for Proposals: Root Capital’s Enterprise Data Platform

Reports To: Calvin Betts, IT Systems Administrator
Job Type: Remote, contract position
Location: United States
Start Date: June 30, 2019
Contact: edw@rootcapital.org

Root Capital Inc. (“Root Capital”) seeks to build an enterprise data platform to support the data management and business intelligence needs of our agricultural enterprise clients.

This system will include an enterprise data warehouse to store agricultural producer and other data from disparate sources, as well as data reporting & visualization functionality that will allow our clients to use producer-level data to support internal business processes and to build stronger data-driven relationships with business partners.

In the remainder of this RFI document, we provide:

  • Our planned schedule for the RFI/RFP process which, though subject to change, represents our best estimation at this time
  • A brief overview of Root Capital and the services we provide to our clients
  • A description of the response format for the RFI and how to submit your response
  • The key evaluation criteria that we will use to select the short list of firms that we will invite to submit a response to the RFP (barring any additional requirements from external funders and/or governance stakeholders)

RFI/RFP Schedule

4/15/2019 - 5/15/2019     —  Window for initial product demos
5/15/2019                         —   Due date for completed RFI questionnaires
6/1/2019                           —   Invitation to participate in RFP
6/8/2019                           —   Deadline to notify Root Capital of intent to participate in RFP
6/15/2019                         —   RFP issued
6/30/2019                         —   Due date for completed RFP submission
7/1/2019 – 7/15/2019      —   Scripted solution demos and start of contract process

Contact Information

Please submit your completed RFI by supplying the information requested in this Excel spreadsheet (Root Capital Enterprise Data Platform RFI Questionnaire), as further described in the “Response Instructions” section below.

If you would like your firm to be considered to participate in the RFP, please complete and return the above-referenced questionnaire spreadsheet not later than the close of business on May 15, 2019. Please send the completed questionnaire spreadsheet as an email attachment to Calvin Betts at edw@rootcapital.org. Questions about the RFI document or process can also be directed to Calvin Betts via e-mail or phone at (617) 299-2437.

About Root Capital

Root Capital invests in the growth of agricultural enterprises so they can transform rural communities. These businesses purchase crops such as coffee, cocoa, or grains from smallholder farmers. With growth, they become engines of impact that can raise incomes, create jobs, empower women and young people, sustain peace and preserve vulnerable ecosystems.

Agricultural businesses have a demonstrated link to lifting families out of poverty: the World Bank estimates that growth in the agricultural sector is two to four times as effective in reducing poverty as growth in any other sector. Helping children and families —in particular the nearly two billion living in rural areas on less than $2 per day — advance out of poverty depends largely on the success of small agricultural enterprises who act as the connection between smallholder farmers and larger markets.

Founded in 1999, Root Capital is a Massachusetts nonprofit corporation based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Root Capital has received a determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service granting it an exemption from U.S. federal income tax as an organization described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Root Capital currently works in sixteen (16) countries across Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia.

As a social lender, Root Capital invests in the growth of small agricultural enterprises, helping them become engines of impact that transform rural communities. To accomplish this ambitious goal, Root Capital applies an integrated “credit plus capacity” model that catalyzes business growth by pairing financing with an array of targeted advisory services.

Root Capital Advisory Services and Need for an Enterprise Data Platform

Many small and growing agricultural enterprises in areas of rural poverty lack strong business practices or access to the talent or training that could help them thrive and grow. Root Capital provides highly customized, long-term on-site advisory services to these small agricultural enterprises. Advisory Services address gaps in core business strengths for agricultural enterprises. To date Root Capital has provided advisory services to over 1,350 businesses worldwide, focusing on topics including financial management, governance, mobile technology, and agronomic planning and support.

One of the most valuable, and quickly growing, advisory services that Root Capital provides are Mobile Technology Advisory Services. We know that data collection and analysis can be an obstacle for growing agricultural enterprises. A key goal of Root Capital’s Mobile Technology Advisory Services offering is to enhance clients’ ability to digitize farmer data collection and tracking. Accurately and efficiently collecting farmer data is a critical component to receiving most organic or Fair Trade certifications and accessing specialty markets and higher prices. Farmer data digitization also plays a key role in improving internal business decision-making processes and building stronger data-driven relationships with business partners such as buyers that purchase the products agricultural enterprises produce, and lenders that provide financing to agricultural enterprises.

Since 2015, Root Capital has conducted Mobile Technology Advisory Services engagements with over thirty (30) agricultural enterprises. Pursuant to those engagements we have help agricultural enterprises collect farmer data required for organic and fair trade certifications, agronomic indicators, information related to product quality and harvest estimates, climate change data, and social indicators.

Currently, the survey data we gather is collected through iFormBuilder and reported on in a highly-manual manner: client reporting and visualization of the data collected is performed by the creation of a dashboard in Excel using Power Query/Pivot. While this process allows for a flexible solution to customize our reporting for individual clients, we are looking for a scalable solution with an emphasis on managed access and offline/on-premise access to data.

The data collection that has happened as part of these projects has been valuable to the participating agricultural enterprises. Root Capital now looks to complement our Mobile Technology Advisory Services with an Enterprise Data Platform that will position Root Capital to provide more standardized and scalable Mobile Technology Advisory Services and better position agricultural enterprises to leverage producer-level data to support internal business processes and to build stronger data-driven relationships with business partners.

RFI System Functionality and Evaluation Criteria

Note: While we are certainly interested in potential solutions that support all specified system functionality, we are also open to the idea of pairing multiple “best in class” solutions, each of which offer a more focused functionality set. Accordingly, solutions that only address a subset of Root Capital’s key business processes will still be given due consideration as part of this RFI process.

Key System Functionality

  • A Data Integration Tool that can import data from disparate sources used to collect farmer-level agricultural enterprise data or complementary data sources such as climate / weather / soil maps, validate, filter and transform that data, and migrate that data into an Enterprise Data Warehouse
  • An Enterprise Data Warehouse that can be used to build a robust relational database that agricultural enterprises can use as a farmer database, and integrate with best-in-class reporting and data visualization tools
  • A Data Reporting & Visualization engine that empowers agricultural enterprises to intuitively access data from the Enterprise Data Warehouse to generate reports and visualizations that will enable improved internal decision making and stronger data-driven relationships with business partners

Key Evaluation Criteria

  • Level of support for Root Capital’s Enterprise Data Platform functionality
  • Solutions providers’ experience and reputation for successful delivery of their solutions to customers with the same or similar business processes

User Profile and Use Conditions

  • Level of data security standards and advanced sharing/permissioning functionality to empower the agricultural businesses to share (or not) their data with different actors.
  • Ability of Root Capital’s employees and agricultural enterprise clients to access the solution and data anywhere, anytime through multiple devices, including offline access to data and reports for clients with unreliable internet access

Response Format and Instructions

Please submit your RFI response by supplying the information requested in this Excel spreadsheet (Root Capital Enterprise Data Platform Questionnaire).

  • Sections 1,2 and 3 request very brief narrative answers
  • Sections 4,5 and 6 provide a drop-down list for you to select one of the following responses:
    • Solution fully meets or exceeds stated requirement(s)
    • Solution mostly meets stated requirement(s)
    • Solution does not support stated requirements

If you select (2) or (3), we also provide you with the opportunity to briefly describe the differences between Root Capital’s requirement and your solution’s functionality.

If you would like your firm to be considered to participate in the RFP, please complete and return the RFI questionnaire by May 15, 2019. Please send the completed questionnaire spreadsheet as an email attachment to: edw@rootcapital.org.

Notification of Confidentiality and Disclaimer

All information provided by Root Capital in this RFI and any associated information is confidential and only for the recipient’s knowledge. No information included in this document or in discussions connected to it may be disclosed to any other party. Root Capital reserves all rights and remedies as may be available under law and equity to protect its confidential information from misuse and notes that confirmed misuse of the information provided in this RFI shall result in immediate disqualification of the party involved in any further phases of this consultation process.

Root Capital, through the issuance of this RFI, shall not be construed as in any way committing to a specific service provider, or entering into any agreement or legally binding obligation of any kind.