Director Strategic Learning, Kenya
(This position is based on an award of funding)
GENERAL PROGRAM SUMMARY:
The AgriFin Accelerate program is operating in three African countries (Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia) utilizing a market ecosystem approach, working with carefully selected partners to build sustainable models, where farm and crop management tools and financial services are "bundled" in affordable, unified platforms on mobile phone channels to promote mass uptake commercially. The program involves three interrelated components that seek to address low farmer productivity and capability, and improve institutional ability to deliver appropriate products and build ecosystems to drive scale. We work with farmers, banks, mobile network operators, MFIs, research institutes and other ecosystem players in well-defined partnerships to sustainably bundle services, leveraging the offer and outreach of all partners, while increasing the range of services, access points and value for farmers. The program works with partners to identify, prototype, test and scale successful mobile-enabled services for smallholders, with a key focus on expanding access to financial services, using a rapid iteration approach to product development and client-centric design techniques.
GENERAL POSITION SUMMARY:
The Director Strategic Learning is a key position in the AgriFin Accelerate program responsible for cross-cutting programmatic information management, monitoring and evaluation, ensuring that information collected is reflected upon, used to improve ongoing program implementation and sectoral learning, and is incorporated into consistently high quality reports and communications products to drive ecosystem-level impacts. More than just measuring results, the program’s M&E system will be an integral part of project planning and allow strategic and informed management of interventions across Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. The Director Strategic Learning will provide team leadership related to project development and framing of learning activities, as well as learning management. Based on program deliverable, the Director Strategic Learning cohesively represents the multi-country program to relevant stakeholders and other organizations/institutions through a variety of different channels. Given the program’s objectives of facilitating sustainable systemic change in the market system, measuring high-level results alone is not sufficient. It is also necessary to understand the processes which lead to the end impact. This requires an ongoing monitoring process that can measure indicators along the results chain of the program. In addition, the position holder is responsible for ensuring that the reports are timely and of a high quality, as well as overseeing and building the capacity of related staff.
ESSENTIAL JOB FUNCTIONS:
Vision, Leadership and Strategy
- Provide strategic leadership on learning for the AFA technical matrix team, comprised of country directors and regional experts in financial services, technology product development, digital capacity building and agriculture.
- Provide leadership to program offices in implementing and conducting Research, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (RMEL) activities that inform and improve each intervention, as well as feed into the broader program-wide RMEL system.
- Take leadership role in crafting and implementing all learning events, working across program team, partners and required consultants.
- Lead strategy related to program learning and impact assessment, including selection and management of strategic partners and consultants for MEL.
- Identify and maintain a system that allows AFA to store and analyze program data and represent impact to donors, government, colleague agencies, and communities themselves.
- Serve on the senior management team and work with the Program Director to design and lead management meetings and strategy sessions.
- Work closely with the program donor, the MasterCard Foundation, to communicate and promote learning as a part of the Foundation community of grantees, including assigned learning partners in digital finance and agriculture.
- Work closely with the Program Director to link, support and build other AgriFin programming globally.
- Set and manage MEL program budget, developing quarterly workplans and budget allocations on an ongoing basis in consultation with the Program Director.
- In the absence of the Program Director, serve as acting program director.
RMEL System Development
- Lead efforts to establish an RMEL system working out of Nairobi that will facilitate RMEL for all three country offices and collaborate closely with program consultants in developing and establishing of the RMEL system, one that serves the needs of the overall AgriFin Accelerate program and it’s field officers.
- Support all country programs independent efforts to ensure high quality RMEL at the program level as well as build a program-wide system that captures and presents results.
- Design and maintain a system with utility and program quality in mind, providing managers and their teams real time information that can steer program implementation as well as informing donors and strategic program direction and that helps strategize future program interventions.
- Be the focal point for developing, updating and fulfilling the learning agenda for the AgriFin Accelerate program, ensuring consistent application of the learning agenda through program design, implementation, assessment and communication.
- Work with program teams and consultants to ensure learning is built into all program engagements, distilled and communicated via high impact channels to program partners, stakeholders, and broad industry groups to build ecosystem development and impact, aiming for expanding stakeholder capacity to implement successful models and learn from program failures.
- Lead work with program partners to establish responsive joint learning agendas which serve both partner and program needs, with well integrated data collection planning and implementation.
- Ensure that learning goals are well established and coordinated for DFCL activities.
- Develop community of practice in sharing program learning with leading agencies to ensure work is at the forefront of development thinking, linking as much as possible to industry leaders to expand and deepen our own learning and dissemination of our work.
- Assist in the coordination, development and implementation of the program communications strategy in close coordination with the AgriFin Senior Leadership Team (director, country managers and finance) and in cooperation with the program donor and assigned consultants.
- Hire and manage the program Communications Manager to optimize dissemination of program learning, leveraging digital channels to the fullest extent.
- Play a leadership role in developing AFA and participating in other learning events, including workshops, conferences and annual learning events per country.
- Play a leadership role in development of grant and management reporting, ensuring that materials are timely, high-quality and responsive to donors and partners.
- Serve as leading program representative at conferences and events relevant to our learning agenda and ecosystem change objectives.
Monitoring and Evaluation/ Assessments
- Lead design and implementation of evaluations and assessments as outlined in the program proposal and work plans, drawing on appropriate research and survey tools and incorporating Mercy Corps’ standards on design, monitoring, and evaluation.
- Provide input as to RMEL Agri-Fin Senior Leadership Team and act as a liaison with Mercy Corps HQ MEL technical staff.
- Play a central role in all design, monitoring, evaluation, reflection, and learning activities, and developing the capacity of teams to understand and reflect on data as well as share across implementing countries.
- Establish all required consulting agreements and relationships for MEL activities based on Mercy Corps policies and procedures.
- Identify, procure and oversee all MEL consultant work, ensuring high levels of coordination and integration into overall programming, as well as appropriate support for partners.
- Ensure that program milestones related to learning are developed at the highest standard, including annual farmer benchmarks, case studies, impact studies, blogs, slideshares and other.
- Procure and hire qualified consultants as needed to support optimal delivery on program learning
Organizational Learning: As part of our commitment to organizational learning and in support of our understanding that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities they serve - we expect all team members to commit 5% of their time to learning activities that benefit Mercy Corps as well as themselves.
Accountability to Beneficiaries
Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts towards accountability, specifically to our beneficiaries and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging beneficiary communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.
SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITY: Communications Manager, Product Data and Information manager
REPORTS DIRECTLY TO: Agri-Fin Accelerate Program Director
WORKS DIRECTLY WITH: Country Managers, Technical Team, Finance Director, Partner Organizations, Donor
KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE:
- At least 10 years’ proven experience in monitoring and evaluation tied to development programming. Strong inclination toward economic development and technology-enabled programming a plus
- Strong demonstrable understanding of burgeoning trends and ideas in the M&E field
- MA/S or equivalent in Social Science, Management, International Development preferred
- Experience with mobile data systems and platforms
- Extensive experience designing, developing and implementing M&E systems, including data management platforms, data collection tools, survey design, evaluations, etc.
- Proven experience using monitoring data and feedback loops to regularly reflect, iterate and improve programs
- Must have extensive experience working with a variety of donors, preferably in Africa and strong demonstrated writing, presentation and communications ability, with clear experience in use of social networking and other digital channels
- History of working effectively and respectfully with host country government, INGO and NGO partners
- Demonstrated ability to support complex programming and meet tight deadlines
- Experience living and working in East Africa region is preferred
- Fluency in written and spoken English essential
The ideal candidate will have a strong curiosity for understanding and working effectively within the three diverse countries which Agrifin Accelerate operates. S/he will be an excellent communicator, multi-tasker, and able to work in ambiguous situations. S/he will be a tolerant and flexible individual able to work in difficult and stressful environments and follow procedures. S/he will be a team-player with a positive attitude toward problem solving and conflict resolution. The most successful Mercy Corps staff members have a strong commitment to teamwork and accountability, thrive in evolving and changing environments, make effective written and verbal communication a priority in all situations, have strong skills in design monitoring and evaluation of development programs and maintain a sense of humor.
LIVING /ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS:
This position will be based in Nairobi, Kenya, which is an accompanied post for spouse and children. Nairobi is a major metropolitan center with world class healthcare and excellent education options. Mercy Corps provides expatriate staff with a housing allowance that covers rent, utilities and security for comfortable accommodations in safe areas of the city. Telephone and internet access is available and there are dozens of excellent restaurants along with easy transport links to the rest of Africa and Europe. Regular travel to Zambia and Tanzania will be required up to 30%.
Mercy Corps Team members represent the agency both during and outside of work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit/TDY to a field posting. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC's policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.
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