What is the SMART Project?

The SMART Project is a four-year USAID-funded economic growth project, launched in 2021, and implemented by DAI Global. SMART supports the Recovery and Revitalization of the Palestinian private sector in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.  

“SMART” stands for “Small and Medium Enterprise Assistance for Recovery and Transition.”

“Recovery” means rapidly addressing immediate burdens on a firm following a recent economic crisis, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic. It involves introducing new capital and technical expertise to resume or maintain operations, spur productivity, and reconnect with historical markets.

“Revitalization” means strategically supporting a high potential firm (or group of firms) to flourish following an economic crisis, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic. It involves introducing new capital and technical expertise to scale up operations, expand productive capacity, and reach out to new markets.

Beyond direct support at the firm level, SMART also creates an environment for private sector growth through market development, addressing policy concerns, and building the capacity of privet sector institutions. 

Who benefits from SMART?

SMART aims to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups located in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. To apply, firms must meet the definition of SME or Start-up (see below) and must comply with the eligibility criteria in the request for application (RFA).

SMART defines SMEs based on two ranges: number of employees and the annual turnover. SMEs are firms that employ from 5 to 49 employees AND have annual turnover revenue between USD $100,000 and USD $2,000,000 in at least one of the past three years.

SMART defines firms as “start-ups” based on maturity, viability, and innovation. Start-ups are for-profit companies that have been in operation for less than three years, are officially registered, have an experienced management team, and try to fill market demand. It should have experience in production and create a scalable business by developing an innovative product or service in any production sector.

SMART supports SMEs and start-ups working in a variety of productive sectors that contribute to the growth of the Palestinian economy as a whole. These sectors include tourism, agriculture, information technology (IT), textiles/garments, furniture, plastics, and other manufacturing and service sectors.

Certain sectors are avoided because they do not align with SMART’s objectives. The firms may be ineligible for support if they operate in the following sectors: trading wholesale or retail, construction development, or luxury goods. Furthermore, SMART does not work with firms in sectors engaged in illicit goods or services, including but not limited to gambling, tobacco, firearms, alcohol, or illicit drugs.SMART does not work with the firm’s operations adversely affects the environment.

SMART promotes and incentivizes the involvement and equitable benefit of women-owned and/or managed firms and youth-owned and/or managed firms, as well as firms with a greater than 60% of female and youth employees. An applicant’s verified women and youth leadership and involvement contribute to the evaluation and selection process, and incentives include a more favorable cost share arrangement.

SMART considerations for women and youth engagement are based on a quantifiable degree of both ownership and leadership, which may be combined. To meet SMART’s definition of woman/youth-owned and/or managed, one of the following two cases must be true:

At least 51 percent ownership by women/youth


At least 20 percent ownership by women/youth AND at least 1 woman/youth in senior management AND at least 30 percent of the board of directors being women/youth (where a board exists)

Certain assistance programs prioritize businesses that are making an effort to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency.

Yes, as long as such cooperatives are registered as for-profit entities and meet the program eligibility and selection criteria.

Yes, certain assistance programs allow for group applications, in which one firm applies as a lead applicant and submits the application on the other firm’s behalf.

What Does SMART Offer Businesses?

SMART contributes funding and expertise to firms’ proposed Recovery and Revitalization Plans. Financial assistance is typically in the form of in-kind grants. Combined with cost share committed by the firm, these grants cover critical capital expenditures such as upgrading equipment or introducing new technologies. SMART complements this material assistance with technical assistance and training.

A Recovery Plan or Revitalization Plan is a strategy for enhancing productivity, market development, and sustainability following a period of economic crisis by investing capital and expertise into a firm (or collaborative group of firms). A Recovery Plan is meant to mitigate the hardship for a struggling firm(s), whereas a Revitalization Plan is meant to accelerate the growth of a high-potential firm(s).

No, SMART will only cover an agreed cost share percentage of the total Recovery or Revitalization Plan. The firms are required to commit upfront cost share, in accordance with the RFA. An applicant’s capacity to fund their cost share may be a factor in evaluation and selection.

Cost share is a percentage contribution, measured in dollars, to a Recovery or Revitalization Plan. The RFA will designate maximum cost share that SMART can provide (in other words, a minimum cost share that firms must commit), which may vary depending on the terms of the RFA, the type of expenditure, or incentives for women and youth leadership or environmental safeguarding.  

In-kind grants are awards of materials and services procured on the firm’s behalf. The materials may include equipment and technologies and services may include training and certification programs. In-kind grants are one of the multiple resources that support a Recovery or Revitalization Plan and are often complemented by technical assistance and training. The amount of the grant will be determined based on firm Size. needs and ability to manage risk. 

Technical Assistance (TA) is advisory services to support firms in improving productivity, quality of products/services, business planning, access to finance, and reconnecting with historical markets or seeking new markets. SMART pairs client firms with on-staff Business Advisors and short-term consultants to deliver TA over the Recovery/Revitalization Plan lifecycle.

SMART offers staff training for identified human resource needs which support the Recovery or Revitalization Plan overall. Trainings may be online, in person, or on the job and may include certification programs.  

In-kind grants and any other assistance are subject to SMART’s procurement policy. The full list of non-eligible and restricted expenses is included in the RFA document for each program.

No, SMART’s procurement policy prohibits the purchase of vehicles for client firms. Client firms may not include vehicle purchases in their cost share.

No, SMART’s procurement policy prohibits the procurement of construction services for client firms. However, client firms may include approved construction expenses in their cost share if they contribute to the objectives of the Recovery or Revitalization Plan.

No. SMART will only cover expenditures occurring after the award, as determined by the grant agreement. The client firm cost share expenditures likewise must be post-award to count for cost share requirements. 

How can firms apply for SMART Programs?

Firms may apply for assistance under SMART through online application forms posted on the SMART website. Assistance Programs will be announced and solicited through requests for applications (RFAs). 

Firms may apply for assistance under SMART through online application forms posted on the SMART website. Assistance Programs will be announced and solicited through requests for applications (RFAs).

Upon receipt of the application, SMART will review the firm’s application to determine that:

All information has been provided on the application form.
All the documents requested in the application form and its’ RFA have been submitted.
Requested assistance is consistent with the strategic objectives of the program.
Statement of liability (part of application form).

If the application does not meet the submission requirements outlined above, the Firm will be notified of the program’s decision to deny the requested assistance and the application will not be moved forward in the review process.

If the application meets the submission requirements, they will be contacted to arrange a site visit by the SMART team. The purpose of the visit is to discuss and clarify the proposed program description, verify, and complete all submitted documents. In addition, SMART will conduct an assessment during the site visit to build a business case for the proposed intervention and to ensure that the firm is ready to engage and committed to combining their resources with SMART assistance to achieve sustainable results.

Applications will only be accepted between the date of RFA issuance until the end date specified in the RFA. Each new Program launch releases a new RFA. For example, SMART’s Hotel Recovery Program was announced on November 2nd, 2021, and closed on December 15th, 2021.

 Firms applying early will not be reviewed more favorably than firms applying closer to the deadline. HOWEVER, available funding is limited, and applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis which means that early applicants will be more likely to receive assistance before the available funding runs out. 

The application form requests information and documents through a series of instructions and questions in both Arabic and English. Information includes company profile, information on key individuals, financial and employment information of the past three years, environmental and social impact, details on the proposed Recovery/Revitalization Plan, and other necessary items. Documentation includes registration papers, personal identification, employment contracts, financial statements, and other necessary items. If you have all the aforementioned documents prepared, it will take 1-3 hours to fill in the application.

Before completing the online application, applicants should consider the following:

  • All information provided in the application must be true and accurate.
  • Only complete applications will be considered eligible for review.
  • Only applications submitted via the program’s online portal will be considered, and all supporting documentation must be uploaded as requested in the application portal.
  • Documentation will be required, including registration papers, owners’ IDs, employment contracts, and financial statements. Applications missing required document attachments will not be accepted until all required documents are uploaded and submitted.
  • Failing to satisfy any of the above requirements can lead to the application being rejected.
  • The applicant firms may be asked to revise or provide additional information to their application. by SMART representatives.
  • All information and documents will be considered confidential information. 

Yes, please include the part-time employees and mention this in the application.

Yes, specifications should be included in the application.

Yes, applicants rejected for Recovery Assistance may later choose to apply for Revitalization. In some cases, applicants are rejected for Recovery only for lack of evidence that they are still struggling from COVID-19 and other economic crises, and the same firm would be better suited for Revitalization.

Yes, in some cases, applicants approved for Recovery Assistance may later choose to apply for the Revitalization Program when their Recovery Plan has achieved its goals and the firm is ready for growth.

Yes, rejected firms may reapply in certain cases. For instance, if the reason for rejection was an incomplete application or the circumstances of the firm have changed since the original application. Return applicants are subject to the same criteria and deadlines.

Yes, in some cases Revitalization Plans may be segmented in multiple phases, and applicants will reapply for each subsequent phase. In these cases, the first-come-first-served policy does not apply and return applicants will be evaluated upon submission. However, the sum of multiple awards shall not exceed the program award ceiling.

No, only applications submitted via the program’s online portal will be considered.

If you need to modify or update any crucial information, or you made an error in your application, please contact us strictly by email on [email protected] providing the reason for your request. Do not submit a new application.

The application can be filled in English or in Arabic.

Once the Evaluation Committee makes a decision, applicants will be formally notified by SMART through the main contact person referenced in the application form.   

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