Ambassador’s Special Self-Help (SSH) Program


  • Funding Opportunity Title:         Ambassador’s Special Self-Help (SSH) Program
  • Funding Opportunity Number:   AFPRA-20-04
  • Deadline for Applications:          Rolling
  • Maximum for Each Award:          $8,000

U.S. Embassy Praia welcomes the submission of project applications for funding through the Ambassador’s Special Self Help Program (SSH). If interested, please carefully review the instructions below.

Purpose of Small Grants: 

The SSH is a grass-roots grant assistance program that allows U.S. Ambassadors to support local requests for small community-based development projects.  The purpose of the Special Self-Help Program is to support communities through modest grants that will positively impact local communities. The SSH philosophy is to help communities help themselves.

Projects submitted for SSH must align with one or more U.S. Embassy priorities: 

Economic diversification, including small business creation and income generation 

Projects must aim to 1) generate sustainable income and employment opportunities in local communities, 2) advance economic diversification and encourage use of local natural resources or income generation, 3) promote a culture of entrepreneurship, and/or 4) improve economic or living conditions of a community.

Women start-ups and women entrepreneurs

Eligible projects assist women who are launching a business or who are overseeing the early stages of business development (between one to two years). Such projects must promote a culture of women-led entrepreneurship and innovation that can be replicated in the community. Projects must also promote profitable businesses that generate revenue and benefit the community.

Social inclusion and creation of opportunities

Projects in this category must assist youth, children, women (particularly female heads of household), and other vulnerable groups to gain access to basic services (for example water, sanitation, and primary/pre-K education). They can also assist the creation of opportunities for vulnerable groups, particularly employment for youth.

Drought response/ resiliency 

Eligible projects will increase the capacity of communities to cope with the effects of drought by building resilience and promoting  income-generating activities. Activities can include increasing water supply quality, improving water management, diversifying agricultural practices, and providing benefits to the environment.

An SSH project must be submitted by an organized group that is motivated, has identified a real need, and has already successfully implemented projects in the community.  The project should be feasible and based on the socio-economic context of the local community. 

Organizational Requirements:

All applicants must be registered Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs). We welcome proposals from Community and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that work directly with communities.  Organizations must be able to demonstrate that they have adequate internal controls and financial systems in place.

In order to be eligible to receive an award, all organizations must have the following:

  • A Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number from Dun & Bradstreet (
  • An NCAGE/CAGE code from (
  • An active registration in Please see Section I for information on how to obtain these registrations.

Project Requirements: 

To be eligible for funding the project must meet the following criteria: 

  1. The project should help improve basic economic or social conditions at the local community level, and have long-term value.
  2. The project should be high-impact, benefiting the greatest number of people possible.
  3. Substantial community participation in the activity is required.  Contributions may include labor, materials (bricks, sand, gravel, seeds, etc.), land, buildings, or money that is given to ensure the success of the project. [See the section below on “Local Community Involvement”].
  4. Funding is limited to one project, which must be completed within twelve (12) months or less.
  5. Projects must be self-sustaining upon completion.  The U.S. Embassy’s support for the project is a one-time-only grant contribution.
  6. Projects must be within the community’s ability to maintain and operate.  Requests for large-scale agriculture or construction projects, or for expensive equipment are not considered priority projects.
  7. Managers of a project should have proof that they are financially responsible and will be able to account for funds sent to them.  Having a bank account, or establishing credit with vendors, are examples of such evidence.
  8. The requested amount for implementing activities cannot exceed $8,000.  Project budgets generally range from $4,000 to $8,000. 

Local Community Involvement: 

Local involvement of the organization or group must be at least 10% in cash or in kind of the total project costs.  The community contribution of funding may be crucial to make a choice between two viable requestors.  In-kind contributions could be:  labor (wages of masons and workers), food, accommodation for qualified labor, carts of sand or gravel, bricks for construction, sand, fence, water supply, transportation costs, donations of materials etc.

Additionally, community leaders must sign the statement of interest.  Community leaders include local municipal leaders, religious leaders, tribal or clan leaders, or any governing body that has oversight over where the project will be implemented.  At least one community leader must sign the statement of interest, however, multiple signatures are strongly encouraged.  Community leaders may also submit letters of support for the project, so long as they specifically mention the project by title.

Limitations/Exclusions from Eligibility 

Applicants are only allowed to submit one proposal per organization. If more than one proposal is submitted from an organization, all proposals from that institution will be considered ineligible for funding.

The Self Help Program may only pay for items and technical assistance that are absolutely necessary for the completion of the project.  The Self Help Program cannot be used for administrative costs, salaries, costs associated with the project manager, travel to and from the Embassy, or items that are not permanent in nature.  Costs incurred prior to the actual award of a grant will be reimbursed only by pre-approval of the grants officer at the sole discretion of the Embassy.

Additionally, the Special Self Help Program does not fund:

  1. Requests to buy equipment like vehicles, office equipment, copiers, or stereos.
  2. Proposals that have a purely police, military, or cultural emphasis.
  3. Religious projects unless they genuinely assist the whole community without regard to religious affiliation.
  4. Personal businesses.
  5. Scholarships, donations, or honorariums.
  6. Payment for pesticides, herbicides, labor, salaries, operating costs, printing material, fuel, or land.
  7. To remodel or renovate an existing facility that is in disrepair as a result of neglect or lack of money.
  8. Office supplies such as pencils, paper, forms, and folders.
  9. Projects that are partially funded by another donor or from the government of Cabo Verde.  Funds cannot be commingled with funds from other donors, international organization, or other U.S. government programs.
  10. Projects that focus on refugees or displaced persons.  There are specific U.S. bilateral or multilateral assistance programs designed to address their needs.
  11. SSH funds may not be used to buy previously owned equipment, luxury goods, or gambling equipment.
  12. Salaries or supervision costs for the supervising organization.  Contingency estimates also do not qualify.

Please note:  We encourage you to contact us with questions as you develop your proposal, as applications that include ineligible items may be disqualified. Please contact us via email at


Content of Application

  1. Please complete the SSH form, which can be downloaded here.
  2. Other required documents:
    • A list of Committee/Board members with their names, positions, addresses, and phone numbers.
    • A list of all people working in the organization (including all staff and volunteers) with names, positions and starting dates.
    • A copy of your registration from the Ministry of Finance.
    • A copy of your fiscal identification number 

Submission of Application

Complete application packages may be submitted to the U.S. Self-Help Coordinator on a rolling basis. Applications will be accepted only in electronic format. Email all required information to 

Application Deadline

Applications received after August will be considered with the next application period. Projects that are time sensitive may not be considered. All projects submitted for funding after August will be dependent of availability of funds.

Project selections will be announced by October.


This application will be evaluated on the following factors:

  • Completeness:  Did the applicant submit all of the materials requested, including but not limited to requirements in the SSH forms found on U.S. Embassy Praia’s website.
  • Embassy priorities: Does the application describe how the project’s goals are related to the Embassy priorities stated in this document?
  • Sustainability:  Is the project sustainable in the long term?  Will the project be able to continue without additional investment?  Are the suggested measurements of success adequate?
  • Need:  Does the project adequately fulfill a stated need within a community?
  • Budget:  Is the budget complete, and well defined? Is the budget reasonable?
  • Completion within one year:  Can the project be completed in a single year?
  • Community support:  Does the project show strong community support?
  • Impact:  Does the project benefit the broadest numbers of beneficiaries possible?  Is there a substantial impact on the affected community?
  • Contribution and Group Capabilities:  Does the group provide adequate resources and show commitment to the project?  Is the group capable of administering the project as designed?


Groups selected for funding will subsequently need to submit several required forms, including  U.S. Standard Form 424, a grants award document, and any other terms and conditions required by U.S. Embassy Praia. Performance and financial reports will be required throughout the duration of the award.

It is expected that publicity will be given to the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help program and its projects, including press and radio releases, photographs, and project site plaques that acknowledge the shared efforts of Cabo Verde and the United States. Publicity costs should be considered in the proposed budget.

U.S. Embassy Praia is not required to fund any applications. Submitting an application does not guarantee selection.

Section I

Instructions to apply for a DUNS number and an NCAGE number

Step 1: Apply for a DUNS number and an NCAGE number (these can be completed simultaneously)

DUNS application: Organizations must have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number from Dun & Bradstreet. If your organization does not have one already, you may obtain one by calling 1-866-705-5711 or visiting

NCAGE application: Application page here:

Instructions for the NCAGE application process:

For NCAGE help from within the U.S., call 1-888-227-2423

For NCAGE help from outside the U.S., call 1-269-961-7766

Email for any problems in getting an NCAGE code.

Step 2: After receiving the NCAGE Code, proceed to register in by logging onto:  SAM registration must be renewed annually.