As your business grows and builds up its reputation, even bigger opportunities present themselves in the form of tenders. This is where the BIG money is. This article will let you know exactly how to apply for tender and win.
What is a Tender
A Tender is a formal invitation of bids or offers to undertake a project, provide goods or specific services. Government departments and large institutions use this as a means of obtaining offers from interested parties, ascertaining their capabilities and then choosing the best option.
How the tender process works
Most government bodies and large entities advertise their tenders in the press. They begin by putting up adverts for interested parties to register on their list of suppliers for that financial year. They will then pick suppliers from this pool of suppliers during the course of that year. Some tenders, however might be closed tenders and require one to approach the specific entities. In the case of new technologies or innovations, it is up to the entrepreneur to approach these large organisations and present their pitch. This however does not guarantee that your proposal will still avoid the tender process. Once all interested parties have submitted their tender applications, the applications are then reviewed. Interviews of shortlisted companies are then scheduled and held to choose the most suitable company to win the tender. The process might differ between organisations but the basics are generally the same.
Where can I find information on what tenders are out?
You can get information about tenders from
- Company websites
- Municipal authorities
- Membership organisations such as the SME Association of Zimbabwe compile tenders from various sources and then publish them on their website.
Each tender has a unique number and contains the details of where one can get the tender document. This tender document contains the details on how one should go about the application process. It also contains the criteria that will be used by the tenderer to pick a suitable company. Whilst some may believe it takes some greasing of hands, we believe having your house in order is the secret to applying for a tender and winning.
How do I apply for a tender and win?
Once you have identified a tender that you would want to apply for and win, take the next step and purchase a Tender document from the organisation that issued the tender. This usually comes at a non-refundable cost. The tender document contains:
• Instructions to tenderers
– this outlines the general conditions, mandatory requirements, query procedures and further instructions on how to respond to requests for proposals (should you be applying to be included on a suppliers list.)
• Format of responses
– these are instructions pertaining to the outline and layout of your proposal, mandatory requirements and how to group and present them.
• Method of evaluation
– this is information of the basis for assessment of proposals or applications such as compliance and good citizenship. In some cases, a visit may be scheduled to inspect or ascertain the authenticity and capability of an applicant.
• Tender administration and submission
– this clearly states the deadline for applications, how to address your application and where to submit it. It also details how late applications will be handled. When tenders will be opened and how applicants will be notified of the results.
– in some specific instances you might be required to present, shop licenses, environmental authority certification, medical and health clearance etc.
NB– Follow instructions and guidelines to avoid being disqualified. For instance, if the deadline is Monday 12 December at 10:30am and you submit your tender on that Monday at 10:45am it will not be considered. In some cases the tender document states where all applications should be addressed to. Follow that instruction and address it to that specific office. Do not address it to your friend who has an office in the same building.
How to improve your chances of winning when applying for a tender
1. Avoid being disqualified for non-compliance to mandatory registration requirements –
A. you will need to provide receipts to prove that you purchased the tender document and paid all gazetted application fees.
B. Provide authentic registration documents – your certificate of incorporation, list of directors, addresses , articles and memorandum of association.
C. A company profile
D. Proof of compliance with the Tax Authority – BP number, tax clearance or VAT registration (if applicable)
E. Any other statutory or mandatory clearance for companies in your industry.
Your core business must be consistent with your Articles of Association. It works against you to apply for a catering tender if your Articles only state that your company was set up to provide protective clothing.
2. Proof of good citizenship-
this is similar to compliance but focuses on how you conduct business. Do you follow statutory guidelines? Are your employees registered for social security? You might want to read our guide on how to keep your business out of trouble.
3. Capacity –
As enticing as it is to apply for big tenders, you will first need to prove that you can handle transactions of that scope and magnitude. This might require you to refer to past projects or showcase your resources(technical skills and equipment). My advice is to start with baby steps and rise up to the level of business you intend to generate. There might be a few exceptional cases of individuals that got lucky along the way. So it might be tempting to try and emulate them but it only hurts your brand if you start and fail to complete a project.
4. Due diligence –
Is your proposal well researched, accurate and truthful? Do your research and make sure that all the information you provided can be verified. Show them you are a professional by presenting your proposal logically, clearly and intelligently. Where necessary provide illustrations and infographics.