NDF - Financing for climate change and development projects

Frequently Asked Questions

Please carefully read the following documentation on NCF 7:

Full Proposal stage

Q: The GHG emissions reduction calculation template's revenue columns (under columns G and R) have no formulas and therefore they are inactive even after feeding in the project's data to the form. Should they be active?
The revenue calculation is for NDF's internal use only and therefore the activation of the columns will be done at NDF. This is why you may upload a form with the revenue cells left empty. However, a new version of the emissions calculator is now available in the SmartME application form for those applicants who wish to use a version with activated revenue columns, in case this is desired.

Q: Should we respond specifically to the feedback points? If so, where and how?
There is no specific field where the feedback should be answered, instead you should make sure that the feedback is integrated into the relevant fields in the full proposal application.

Q: What type of amendments to the concept note should be detailed under section 2.2 of the full proposal application?
All substantial changes from the concept note stage shall be clearly explained and justified in section 2.1 of the application form. Examples of substantial changes are, among others, addition or removal of project partners, revision of co-financing shares or amounts, length of the project or change in the project classification. Any revisions have to be in line with both the Concept Note Application Guidelines as well as the Full Proposal Guidelines. Changes in activities, outputs or outcomes do not need to be clarified in the amendment matrix under section 2.2 of the full proposal application.

Q: Can we rephrase/modify outcomes/outputs/activities from our concept note in the full proposal?
Yes, you may modify outcomes/outputs/activities from the concept note stage. In the full proposal stage the project proposal should be much more detailed, so it is also natural that the outputs are somewhat modified. These are to be described in the results framework of the project.

Q: Can we add new (or remove) outcomes/outputs/activities compared to the concept note if we see a need for this?
This is allowed. The project should have a clear cause-and-effect relationship of how the resources and activities, and at the same time its outputs, contribute to achieving the planned outcomes of the project.

Q: Can the timeframe of the project be changed from what we have proposed in the concept note (either prolonged or shortened)?
The timeframe may be changed, depending on what you deem as optimal for the project. The maximum implementation period is 30 months.

Q: Is it possible to increase the grant requested from NCF (and therefore our own contribution), if we see a need for this?
The NCF grant may be increased as long as the co-financing share presented in the concept note stage does not decrease. Therefore, co-financing should be increased proportionally as much as the NCF grant. Please also make sure that the minimum requirements regarding the Nordic and local co-financing shares are still fulfilled. The maximum NCF grant can that can be sought is EUR 500 000.
Q: Some of the project partners have not participated in specific projects or assignments that could be presented in the references-section of the application form (Section 7.4.2), as they only operate within their core business functions. How should we proceed in these kinds of situations with the references template?
In cases where a partner has no project/assignment-type of references, please include in the reference form under section Narrative description of assignment or project a brief description of the company’s core business, explaining its relevance to the proposed project. Furthermore, include the partner name and in section Assignment name state that the partner has not participated in any specific projects and/or consultancy assignments (or provide other clarifications). Leave the other sections blank or state n/a. For newly established organisations, the CVs of the founders/owners is sufficient, as is also mentioned in the application form.
Q: When building the results framework we have noted that many of the risks and assumptions would overlap with the different levels of hierarchy of the results (impacts, outcomes, outputs), as there is a strong inter-linkage between these results. Can risks and assumptions be assigned to the highest applicable hierarchy level? This would result in not every hierarchy level having the Risks and Assumptions sections filled in, however, the risks and assumptions in the higher hierarchy level would be applicable.

You can assign risk and assumptions only to the highest applicable hierarchy level. Therefore, not all hierarchy levels need to have filled-in fields. It is best, however, to mention that the risks and assumptions are applicable for the full underlying hierarchy. Please also note that outputs and outcomes can have very different assumptions and risks, so please make sure that if there are outcome or output specific assumptions/risks, these should be added to the corresponding outcome/output level.

Concept Note stage

Evaluation of applications

Q: How are the concept note applications going to be evaluated?
A: All concept note applications will be screened against the eligibility criteria. Only the proposals that fulfil the basic eligibility criteria will be evaluated by the NCF Evaluation Committee. The Evaluation Committee consists of experts within climate change, development financing and business development in low-income countries. The Evaluation Committee will evaluate each application against the selection criteria. The highest scoring applications will be invited to submit a final proposal.

Submission of application

Q: I am having problems logging in to the system. What should I do?
A: If you cannot find the confirmation email in your inbox, check the folder for junk mail (spam). The confirmation email from the system may have been directed there. If you have been invited to participate in the development of a project proposal from a partner organisation or colleague, but the invitation link to the online system has expired, the system will automatically send you a new link to use. If you have other problems, please contact us at NordicClimateFacility@ndf.fi.

Q: If I open the application do I have to fill out the entire application in one go?
A: No, you can open and revise the application as many times as you want. Please ensure you always press “Save as draft” to ensure the latest modifications are saved.

Q: What do I do if the application is submitted pre-maturely i.e. before it was intended to be submitted?
A: Please ensure that only a limited amount of people can submit the application in the SmartME system. This is done under my application - manage partners - add user.  If the application is submitted prematurely, contact the NCF team on nordicclimatefacility@ndf.fi and they can un-submit the application. Please note it can take up to 24 hours for the NCF team to do this.

Q: Can the same partner be a part of several applications?
A: Yes, a partner (Nordic/local/other) can be included in several applications. However, only two concept note proposals from the same lead Nordic partner can be selected for full proposal stage and only one project can be selected for financing.
The lead Nordic partner can use the same login to write and submit several concept notes.  For each project, the project partners can differ. The lead applicant invites each project partner to a specific project and therefore no partner can review applications other than those they have specifically been invited to join.

Q: Can several people review and revise the concept note application form online?
A: Yes. The lead Nordic partner can invite colleagues and project partners to review/revise and/or submit the application. This is done under my application - manage partners - add user in the SmartME system. The person who initially registered to the SmartMe system (the lead Nordic partner) can at any point in time change the user rights of each individual person.

Q: What happens if I am unable to submit the application due to a technical problem with the application system?
A: In case of any technical issues, please directly contact the technical support of the SmartME system.


Q: One of the partners has previously received funding from NCF. Are they eligible to apply?
A: Yes, partners who have received NCF-funding previously are eligible to apply again. There are no limitations on how many times a partner can receive NCF-funding.

Q: Can NGOs apply/ be a project partner?
A: Yes, as long as they fulfil all of the eligibility criteria.

Q: Can start-ups apply/ be a project partner?
A: Yes, as long as they fulfil all of the eligibility criteria.

Q: Are there any requirements on annual turn-over for the project partners?
A: This year there are no requirements on annual turn-over. However, the project partners need to be able to demonstrate that they are able to mobilise the required co-financing for the project.

Q: Does NCF do matchmaking, i.e. help local partners find Nordic partners or vice versa?
A: No, unfortunately NCF does not have any matchmaking service.

Q: What is meant by that the local partner cannot be a subsidiary or otherwise affiliated (e.g. sister or parent organisation) to the Nordic partner(s).
A: This means that there cannot be ownership relations and/or controlling interests between the local partner(s) and Nordic partner(s). In addition, the local partner(s) and Nordic partner(s) cannot be members of the same umbrella organisation. By umbrella organisation we mean an organisation that requires its member organisations to follow common operational guidelines, and/or coordinates or controls its member organisations' activities. The Nordic and local partners should be economically, legally and operationally independent entities.

Financing requirements

Q: Do all co-financing requirements have to be met?
A: Yes, all the requirements have to be met.

  • The project partners must mobilise co-financing equal to least 25% of the requested NCF grant.
  • Of that amount, the Nordic partner(s) must provide at least 15% as a loan and/or equity and the local partner(s) must provide at least 5% as a loan, equity and/or grant.


Q: At least 25% of the requested NCF grant needs to be provided in co-financing. However, the stated co-financing percentages from the Nordic and the local partners only add up to 20%. Where should the other 5% come from?
A: The percentages are only minimum requirements, thus all co-financing above 20% can come from any of the partners, i.e. the Nordic partner(s), the local partner(s) and/or other partners and financiers as loan, equity and/or grant.

Q: Can we mobilise more co-financing, i.e. more than 25% of the requested NCF grant in co-financing?
A: Yes, there is no upper limit for co-financing and a higher share than 25% of co-financing from the project partners is encouraged as it demonstrates commitment, ownership and risk-sharing. Proposals indicating more than 25% in co-financing of the requested NCF grant will score higher, as indicated in the concept note application guidelines.

Q: What is meant by loan and equity?
A: Loan means that the co-financing may come from market-based or concessional debt-based financing. Equity means that the co-financing may come from i) the project partner‘s existing cash and/or cash-equivalent assets as generated by the partner’s ongoing operations or otherwise possessed by the partner, and/or ii) capital raised through equity financing.

Q: Can Nordic partner include grants in their co-financing?
A: Yes, but at least 15% of the requested NCF grant needs to be loan or equity. Co-financing above the 15% threshold can be provided as loan, equity and/or grant.

Q: The Nordic partner(s) must provide at least 15% as a loan and/or equity? Can this percentage be shared between the Nordic partners?
A: Yes, this can be shared between several Nordic partners. Not all Nordic partners need to provide co-financing as long as the total co-financing is at least 15%. However, we do strongly encourage the lead Nordic partner to provide some co-financing as it demonstrates commitment, ownership and risk-sharing.

Q: Can we apply for less than EUR 250,000?
A: No, the minimum NCF grant amount is EUR 250,000.

Q: Can in-kind contributions be considered as co-financing? 
A: Yes. NDF does not differentiate between in-kind and cash contributions. Co-financing can cover all project-related costs, including staff salaries/daily remuneration rates. All co-financing shall be directly related to the implementation of the project. Please find further information about eligible costs and ineligible costs in the Project Implementation Manual.

Q: What are eligible costs, i.e. cost that can be covered by NCF and is eligible as co-financing?
A: A list of eligible project costs is included in the Project Implementation Manual. All budgeted costs need to be reasonable and necessary for the implementation of the project.

Q: Is there a restriction on how much of the NCF-financing can be used for different types of budget categories, such as equipment, staff, training, etc.?
A: There are no restrictions on budget shares for different types of budget categories. However, all budgeted costs need to be reasonable and necessary for the implementation of the project. Furthermore, only costs mentioned as eligible in the Project Implementation Manual can be included in the project budget. We encourage that the costs for the different types of budget categories are shared between the project financiers.

Q: Is land purchase or rent of land an eligible project expenditure?
A: No, land is not seen as a fixed asset and thus project funds cannot be used to purchase or rent land. In terms of land being used for the project, the project partners shall before the first disbursement be able to show relevant documentation that they have all the necessary the permits, licences etc, in place to use the land for the project purposes.

Q: Is land eligible as co-financing?
A: No, land is not eligible as co-financing.