International Expert for the Joint UNDP-ILO Research Project – Understanding better the paths to formalization in Cambodia: an integrated vision

Location : Home-based, CAMBODIA
Application Deadline :31-Oct-21 (Midnight New York, USA)
Additional Category :Management
Type of Contract :Individual Contract
Post Level :International Consultant
Languages Required :
Starting Date :
(date when the selected candidate is expected to start)
Duration of Initial Contract :60 working days, and from January 2022 to October 2022
Expected Duration of Assignment :60 working days, and from January 2022 to October 2022

UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.

UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.


In recent years, Cambodia has made impressive gains in poverty reduction. According to official estimates, the poverty rate in 2014 was 13.5 per cent compared to 47.8 per cent in 2007. These gains in poverty reduction were achieved through a combination of economic development and better public service delivery for the poor. Nevertheless, Cambodia remains highly vulnerable to external and internal shocks due to structural weaknesses in Cambodia’s economy. A narrow economic base, lack of capital controls, a dollarized economy coupled with high levels of informality along with limited social safety nets mean that the gains made in human development could quickly recede in times of crisis. World Bank estimates that around 4.5 million people remain near-poor and are vulnerable to falling back into poverty when exposed to economic and other external shocks.


In order to achieve the goal of reaching upper middle-income country status by 2030, Cambodia needs to sustain pro-poor growth and to protect the gains in human development by advancing social protection. This can be achieved by extending social protection coverage to unprotected segments of the population and by increasing the level of benefits afforded to those who are covered.


According to ILO preliminary estimates from the most recent Labour Force Survey (LFS), informal employment accounted for 88 per cent of total employment, corresponding to 7.0 million persons. UNDP (2020) found that while the income of informal workers has dropped significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic, only 6 per cent of them reported having an IDPoor card as of October 2020. Significant efforts need to be made to extend the coverage to this missing middle of informal sector workers. Since women form the majority in the informal workforce, a more gender sensitive design of such coverage will be needed, while bringing up women workers’ needs and voices.


While the recent Royal Government’s Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan highlighted formalization as a strategy in the post-Covid-19 recovery landscape, there seems to be a lack of consensus as regards the meaning, scope and dimension across the government line ministries. There are blurred perceptions about the extent to which the term formalization denotes business registration, tax contribution, social protection and/or skill development, amongst other dimensions. Thus, a common country strategy and consensus are equally essential to realistically and effectively narrow the gap of the “missing middle”.


The diversity of the informal economy must be recognized, and tailored approaches will need to be adopted to ensure effective coverage for all workers. The size of the informal economy also requires the adoption of a gradual expansion strategy based on a concrete action plan. In this respect, ILO is working on an overall approach towards formalization and this assignment will be a critical input towards the strategy.


One particular group of workers that are found in informal employment and therefore not covered by the National Social Security Fund are workers in Micro and Small Enterprises. While the social security system was initially mandatory for enterprises with 8 or more workers, this limitation was dropped in 2017. One of the conditions for an enterprise to register and enroll their workers in NSSF is to present a business license, which means that a significant part of workers cannot effectively enroll due to the status of their enterprise. This demonstrates the importance of an integrated approach to business and employment formalization.


The objective of this assignment is to contribute to the overall formalization of the informal economy by conducting research and produce a report aiming at:

  • Getting a deeper understanding of the socio-economic context in Cambodia, in particular the labour market and enterprise landscape, and respective drivers of (in)formalization, particularly for micro and small enterprises, including incentives and costs for formalization from the enterprise perspective;
  • Assess the legal and policy landscape in Cambodia and its impact on formalization;
  • Develop the business case for an integrated approach to formalization, both from a business formalization as well as of job formalization (with particular focus on social security participation), with concrete measures targeted at micro and small enterprises from the perspective of the Royal Government of Cambodia;
  • Provide inputs to the overall strategies/policy paths towards a more integrated approach to formalization with roles and responsibilities outlined for each stakeholder and with time scheduling of activities.

Duties and Responsibilities

The International Expert with support from local expert is responsible for the following outputs:


  1. Develop the research protocol, including interview questions, confidentiality form, and other required elements to facilitate the process of implementing the research in an effective, culturally appropriate, gender-sensitive, and ethical manner;
  2. Conduct an in-depth desk review of relevant literature on the situation of labour market and business landscape, particularly for micro and small enterprises, in Cambodia;
  3. Consolidate various research and background papers mostly produced by ILO and UNDP including the statistical data on the status and evolution of the formal and informal economies and labour markets in Cambodia to produce a consolidated and holistic analysis;
  4. Conduct interviews with ILO and UNDP officials (DWT technical specialists and CO officers);
  5. Conduct interviews with relevant stakeholders and government counterparts in Cambodia, particularly those with in-depth insight over successful implementation of integrated approaches on formalization. At least, one interview per relevant government ministries. Detailed data collection strategy should be included in the inception report;
  6. Conduct additional qualitative and quantitative data analyses, and organizing findings on the situation and trajectory of formalization in Cambodia, in alignment with ILO’s Recommendation 204 Concerning Transition from Informal to Formal Employment;
  7. Detail cases of success and identified good practices on developing, implementing, and managing integrated approaches and initiatives, including from other countries;
  8. Produce a report on the findings of the research from the perspective of workers, and small medium enterprises, including an executive summary and possible strategies towards formalization that will be agreeable to such workers and enterprises. (max. 80 pages);
  9. Engage in high-level policy dialogue with key government stakeholders to generate consensus for a common country strategy on an integrated approach towards formalization;

Support the preparation and participate in the launch of the report and the presentation of its findings in a virtual event.


Functional competencies:

  • Advanced economic formalization and social protection knowledge and skillsets

  • Capacity to engage with senior decision/ policy makers, and to synthesize and present complex arguments in easily understood terms.

  • Ability to work collaboratively with team members by sharing information openly and displaying cultural awareness and sensitivity.

  • Superior written/ oral communication skills, with the ability to convey complex development concepts and recommendations.

  • Positive and results-oriented attitude, able to meet targets/deadline.

Corporate competencies:

  • Demonstrates integrity by modeling the UN’s values and ethical standards. 

  • Displays cultural, gender, religion, race, nationality and age sensitivity and adaptability.

  • Treats all people fairly without favoritism.

  • Fulfils all obligations to gender sensitivity and zero tolerance for sexual harassment.

Required Skills and Experience


  • Advanced university degree in Public Policy, Social Sciences, Economics, Political Science, Business Management or related disciplines to the formalization of the informal economy.


  • At least 7 years of experience in strategy, policy making and technical knowledge in formalization and social protection with significant experience in low-income countries with huge informal economies

  • Proven experience in conducting research and technical consultancy on formalization of informal economy from the perspective of small medium enterprises.

  • Experience of similar assignments in similar international development contexts and extensive work assignments in Cambodia with UN and/or other international organization.

Language Requirement:

  • Fluency in written and spoken English

Interested offeror must read the Individual Consultant (IC) Procurement Notice, which can be viewed at more detail information about term of references, instructions to offeror, and to download the documents to be submitted in the offer through online.

UNDP reserves right to reject any applications that is incomplete.

Please be informed that we don’t accept application submitted via email.

Interested Offerors are required to submit application via UNDP jobsite system as the application screening and evaluation will be done through UNDP jobsite system. Please note that UNDP jobsite system allows only one uploading of application document, so please make sure that you merge all your documents into a single file. Your online applications submission will be acknowledged where an email address has been provided. If you do not receive an email acknowledgement within 24 hours of submission, your application may not have been received. In such cases, please resubmit the application, if necessary. Please combine all your documents into one (1) single PDF document as the system only allows to upload maximum one document.

Interested individual offeror must submit  the following documents/information to demonstrate their qualifications:

1. Proposal:

(i) Letter of intertest explaining why they are the most suitable for the work

(ii) A sample of work to prove superior written with the ability to convey complex development concepts and recommendations

2. Financial proposal (Duly accomplished Letter of Confirmation of Interest and Availability using the template provided by UNDP)

3. Personal CV including past experience in similar projects and at least 3 references

Any request for clarification/additional information on this procurement notice shall be communicated in writing to UNDP office or send to email and cc . While the Procurement Unit would endeavor to provide information expeditiously, only requests receiving at least 5 working days prior to the submission deadline will be entertained. Any delay in providing such information will not be considered as a reason for extending the submission deadline. The UNDP's response (including an explanation of the query but without identifying the source of inquiry) will be posted in Individual Consultant (IC) Procurement Notice page as provided above. Therefore, all prospective Offerors are advised to visit the page regularly to make obtain update related to this Individual Consultant (IC).

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