Capability StatementUpper Quartile provides creative advice in the most challenging business and economic environments. All of ourpartners are experienced international development and management professionals who have worked at seniorlevels in the public and private sectors. Our clients include international NGOs, government agencies and globalcompanies. Our scope of work embraces economic reconstruction in hostile regions, advice on economicdevelopment and reform, and business strategy and benchmarking.The common theme is our ability to deliver clear, pragmatic solutions to problems that are complex, highlyuncertain and, occasionally, chaotic. We have three main areas of specialism: post-conflict reconstruction;economic development and reform; and business strategy. 7-9 North St David Street Edinburgh United Kingdom EH2 1AW Tel: +44(0)131 524 9640 Web: www.upperquartile.co.uk
Post-Conflict ReconstructionNational and regional conflict has a devastating effect on economic performance. It reinforces poverty which inturn fuels further tension and conflict. Breaking out of this vicious circle requires an immediate, closelycoordinated economic reconstruction effort. Upper Quartile has worked extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan,advising international donors and agencies and helping to build local government capacity. Our work has includedstrategic development, project design, FDI and trade promotion and monitoring and evaluation.Our Partners are accustomed to working alongside the military, to coping with uncomfortable working conditionsand to supporting national and regional governments to build their own skills. They have been trained forworking in hostile environments and have security clearance to do so. Longer term, as conflict-affectedeconomies recover, trade and investmentopportunities open up. With our local knowledgeand network of contacts, we are able to adviseglobal companies on doing business in theseeconomies and are currently working with energy,logistics and engineering companies.Economic Development and ReformGovernment and public agencies in most developed countries continue to invest in improving the environmentfor economic development, through infrastructure, business services, FDI promotion and skills. This investmentneeds careful planning, sound strategies and clearly defined project interventions. Our partners have worked atDirector and Chief Executive level in economic development agencies and understand the challenges andaccountabilities involved in public investment of this kind. We offer advice on overall strategy, sectordevelopment, project design and evaluation. In emerging economies, the needs are different. Economicdevelopment is at an earlier stage, with less experienced and under-resourced agencies trying to stimulate localgrowth within an uncertain and highly competitive global economy. This often requires major reforms to improveproductivity, competitiveness, regulation and legislation. Our Partners have experience in over 50 emergingeconomies worldwide, covering Central and Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia andproviding advice in trade, FDI, innovation, SME development and regulatory reform.
Business StrategyThe origins of Upper Quartile were in management consultancy and business benchmarking. Our Partners havean extensive commercial background as senior managers and business owners, and have many years experiencein management consulting. We have a range of benchmarking tools which enable businesses to measure theirperformance against the competition across a range of variables – innovation, productivity, profitability. We arealso accustomed to working with businesses facing difficult challenges, involving recovery, merger, acquisition orsale. We can advise on a number of business functions such as overall strategy, marketing and financial planning.And we have particular experience in the energy, construction and textile sectors. The experience of our Partnersenables us to work credibly and confidently with senior executives and business owners.Recent experience in AfghanistanSince 2008, we have completed a number of assignments in Afghanistan for USAID, DFID, CIDA and RegionalCommand-South. These have covered regional economic strategy; programme design; and monitoring andevaluation. As well as our in-house expertise, we have partner businesses in Afghanistan, owned and managed byAfghans, with which we can work where there is a need for in-depth knowledge of the local private sector,government structures or cultural influences. We also work in partnership with western businesses in theengineering, logistics and survey sectors where projects require these additional skills. And our wide network ofassociate consultants enables us to draw on specific expertise in fields such as training, agriculture, trade andinvestment policy and public finance. Client: CIDA and DFID Project: Review of Afghanistan Marketplace Programme, 2010 CIDA supports the Afghanistan Marketplace Programme, an initiative aimed at increasing the amount of local procurement by the international community and thereby stimulating the Afghan private sector. DFID supports a parallel programme specifically in Helmand province. Both donors commissioned Upper Quartile to review the programme’s performance in terms of its impact on local procurement and the income and jobs benefits to Afghan businesses. Our work involved a programme of interviews with buyers in the international military, diplomatic and donor communities as well as discussions with local suppliers which have received support through the programme, in Kabul, Helmand and Kandahar.
Recent experience in AfghanistanClient: DFID Training and Vocational Education, 2010 DFID was considering a major investment in training and vocational education in Afghanistan, to improve the local skills base, reduce unemployment and support private sector development. Upper Quartile was appointed to review the options for such an investment in terms of target groups within the community, the level of skills required and the appropriate methods for delivering training. We also identified the likely benefits of the programme, estimating employment and income effects.Client: USAID Project: Agricultural Programme for Southern Afghanistan, 2010 USAID was considering a major agricultural development programme for the southern provinces, involving an investment of up to $300m. Upper Quartile was commissioned to prepare the initial design of the programme. We made recommendations on the content of the programme, based on the development of up to ten value chains with the best potential for creating income and employment growth. The content included agricultural inputs, training and education, infrastructure improvements and market development.Client: DFID Project: Bost Agri-Processing Park, Helmand, 2009 DFID was considering an investment in the development of an agri-processing plant on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province. The purpose of the Park is to provide a centre for aggregating and adding value to the agricultural output of the province, creating additional income and employment in one of the poorest and most volatile parts of the country. Our work focused on the market potential for the site and on the most appropriate management and marketing structures.Client: USAID Economic Review of Regional Command - South, 2009 We prepared an economic review of the six southern provinces funded by USAID on behalf of Regional Command – South. The review examined the opportunities for economic growth across the south, particularly in developing the agricultural value chain. It focused mainly on infrastructure investment priorities in irrigation, power and roads. Its principal output was the definition of an economic corridor linking central Helmand to Kandahar and on to the border crossing with Pakistan at Spin Boldak.
Recent experience in AfghanistanClient: DFID Helmand Growth Programme, Afghanistan, 2009 We have designed the Helmand Growth Programme for DFID Afghanistan. The programme is a £28m investment over three years, with the objective of increasing licit income and employment in Helmand province. The programme covers agricultural infrastructure, business support (through AREDP), skills development, credit provision and government capacity building. The linking theme in the programme is the agricultural market and value chain, with each component designed to contribute to the development of the value chain and thus the market potential for Helmand’s agricultural output.Client: USAID Project: Agricultural Development Review, Southern Afghanistan, 2009 This project was undertaken on behalf of Regional Command – South and commissioned by USAID. It assessed the needs and opportunities for building the agricultural value chain across the six provinces in southern Afghanistan. The key constraints on the value chain were identified and included infrastructure, low productivity, outdated skills and technology and lack of compliance with quality and phyto-sanitary standards.Client: DFID Project: Local Military Procurement, 2008-09 In late 2008 and 2009 we were asked by DFID Afghanistan to assess the scope for supporting both the counter narcotics and economic stimulation efforts in Helmand Province by establishing a Local Procurement programme for fresh fruit and vegetables for the coalition forces. This was calculated as having much wider impact than the historic programme of projects and programmes as well as introducing market pressures for local producers to supply to international best-practice standards.Client: DFID Project: Private Sector Development Strategy, Afghanistan In mid 2008 Upper Quartile won a contract to support DFID Afghanistan in re-engaging the Helmand private sector in the legitimate economy. We prepared a five year strategy for a private-sector led economic development strategy, working in full consultation with the Provincial authorities, national institutions, international donors and the British, US, Danish and Estonian military. Our recommendations included the use of the Challenge Fund approach to stimulating private sector development.