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Concept note guidance – Unsolicited Proposal

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) recognizes that the cost of developing a full project proposal can be significant. Submitting a concept note that describes your proposed project saves time and money because it helps us decide if it makes sense to invite you to submit a full proposal.

Note: You are responsible for the costs of preparing a concept note and/or a full project proposal. GAC will not reimburse you for any costs you incur before you sign a funding agreement.

We will only assess your concept note if you:



We assess concept notes based on

Basic information

Include the following:

Title: title of your proposed project

Duration: number of years

Country(ies) and sector: country or countries and regions in which the proposed project will take place, and the main sector it will address. This ensures we direct your concept note to the most appropriate program. We will only consider projects that target official development assistance-eligible countries and sectors that Global Affairs Canada (GAC) works in.

Funding requested: amount of funding (Can$) you are requesting from GAC.


Signatories: list any other organizations that would be signatories to a funding agreement with GAC if funding is approved. If none, indicate N/A.

Partners: list implementing partners (non-signatory partners) or local partners you have already identified. If none, indicate N/A or “not yet,” as appropriate.

Contact name, title and email: add contact information for this initiative in the footer of your document.

Core components

We do not award points when we assess concept notes. We will base our assessment on how well your concept note addresses the following 3 core components:

Development challenge

Briefly describe the development challenge your proposed project will address.

Aim for approximately 250 words in English or 300 words in French for this section.


Briefly describe how your proposed solution presents a logical and realistic way to sustainably address the development challenge(s) identified.

You should also identify intermediaries and beneficiaries (rights-holders) and estimate how many, if possible.

Aim for approximately 1,000 words in English or 1,200 words in French for this section.

Organization capacity

Briefly describe why you believe your organization has the capacity to implement the proposed project successfully.

We may:

Aim for approximately 500 words in English or 600 words in French for this section.

See our Project Browser for more about GAC’s current and past projects.



Innovative finance

Conditionally Repayable Contributions (CRCs)

CRCs are required whenever projects/activities generate revenue or when funding is used to make investments, issue loans or offer financial guarantees.

GAC has launched a 5-year (2021 to 2026) CRC pilot project for select types of non-complex projects that require the use of CRCs.

The CRC pilot project is limited to projects/recipients that meet the specific CRC pilot criteria. See Innovative finance for the latest information about the CRC pilot.

Does your project meet the CRC pilot criteria?

Answer the following mandatory questions to help us determine whether the innovative finance element(s) of your project meet the CRC pilot criteria.

  1. Repayable contribution
    • Will your proposed project or a project component result in revenues or an increase in the value of your business? Yes/No
    • Will the funding provided be used to make investments, issue loans or offer financial guarantees for the purpose of attaining development results? Yes/No
  2. Instrument: Does the proposed project support either loan portfolios (including microfinance) or loan portfolio guarantees? Note: a portfolio approach, as opposed to individual investments, can reduce risks via diversification and increase expected impact. Yes/No
  3. Experience
    • Do you have a proven track record? Yes/No
    • Have you demonstrated programming and risk management experience in the innovative development finance space related to the proposed project? Yes/No
  4. Financial: Can your balance sheet/financial holding capacity/ accommodate the size and scope of the proposed project? Yes/No
  5. Risk sharing: Does your proposed project include a financial contribution by you or another source for the innovative finance/CRC component? Yes/No
  6. Funding amount: Are you requesting funding between $5 million and $20 million for the innovative finance/CRC component and the non-repayable component? Yes/No

Innovative Finance annex

If you answered “yes” to every question, you must submit an Innovative Finance annex that includes your responses to the following questions.

Aim for approximately 500 words in English or 550 words in French for this annex.

Innovative finance annex questions

  1. Repayable contribution: Briefly describe the project activities that may result in revenues or an increase in the value of your business.
  2. Instrument: Provide an overview of the proposed financial instruments/structure that includes loan portfolios, loan portfolio guarantees or both. Provide details of the financial activities to be undertaken and briefly explain the flow of funds, the involvement of any intermediaries in the structure and how the fund(s) will be managed.
  3. Experience: Describe your experience managing innovative finance projects that are similar in size and scope.
  4. Financial

Provide the following information, which should match your annual audited financial statements, certified and signed by your chief financial officer:

  1. last 3 years of total assets and funds under management, each presented separately by fiscal year:
    1. value of investment portfolio
    2. loans receivable under management
    3. financial guarantees
    4. other assets
  2. last 3 years of annual capital disbursements made for financing activities, such as total disbursements for loans in a fiscal year
  3. last 3 years of annual revenue, net income and retained earnings, or, if an NGO, your unrestricted reserves i.e. that do not have externally imposed restrictions
  4. functional currency of the information provided (e.g. Can$)
  5. Risk sharing: Describe how you or other contributors/implementing partners (where relevant) plan to contribute financially to this innovative finance element of your project and/or share the risk with GAC.
  6. Funding value: Estimate how much funding will be required for the innovative finance/CRC component and the non-repayable component.

Flow of funds diagram

Use a separate page to provide a diagram of the flow of funds between and toward different organizations or parts of organizations. Indicate the roles of all proposed partners, intermediaries and beneficiaries on the diagram.

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