Chief of Programs and Innovation

Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) Nairobi, Kenya

About the AECF

The AECF is a leading development finance organization that supports businesses to innovate, create jobs and leverage investments to build resilience and sustainable incomes for rural and marginalized communities in Africa.
AECF’ s goal is to bridge the investment gap between early-stage enterprise and business maturity for entrepreneurs serving the poorest communities. We provide patient capital to new and innovative business models in the agribusiness and renewable energy sectors across Sub-Saharan Africa through various financing instruments. To supplement finance, we also offer advisory services, investments support, and knowledge and insights.
AECF has successfully implemented programmes across 26 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, supporting over 343 enterprises, raising US$ 392 million in funding for programmes, that have created 25,000 jobs and impacted 28 million lives.
AECF is headquartered in Kenya, with offices in Côte d’Ivoire and Tanzania.
You can find further details on their website https://www.aecfafrica.org.

Chief of Programs and Innovation Role Profile

As the AECF enters a new growth phase, we are seeking a Chief of Programs and Innovation to steer the organisation’s programmatic work through this phase, bringing on board the best-in-class investment mind with the ability to conceptualise and design new investments, products, approaches, processes and systems that increase AECF’s reach to the rural and marginalized communities in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Chief of Programs and Innovation will report to the Chief Executive Officer, assisting with the implementation of the strategy by driving new investments and product development, devising growth strategies, building, growing and championing innovation, leading partnership development and resource mobilisation, and managing emerging risks.

The role will have access to a wide range of resources and a team that will look to you for leadership, coaching, mentoring, training, and support for career development.

The role will be based in Nairobi with occasional travel in the region and globally.

Duties and Responsibilities

Lead on Programs and Product Development 
  • Oversee all AECF’s programs, ensuring consistent and quality delivery.
  • Ensure exceptional management of current programs/investments portfolio, and lead portfolio expansion – providing guidance and direction to the portfolio team on sourcing, marking, due diligence, structuring and execution of investments.
  • Develop and execute the AECF investment thesis assuring the team finds the best investment opportunities, adopt the best market and financial practices to assess, structure and close deals in a way that aligns to AECF’s purpose of impacting Africa’s rural and marginalized communities.
  • Review and improve AECF’s investment approach, building rigorous processes and tools towards improving impact alongside financial sustainability.
Build, Grow and Champion Innovation
  • Identify, develop and execute high-impact innovation strategy and roadmap aligned to the strategic business goals and growth priorities.
  • Develop and manage innovation and technology-related initiatives bringing to bear key market trends and growing even further AECF's position as a convener on the topics of concessional finance, SME lending, Agribusiness and Renewable Energy.
  • Ensure timely, successful commercialization of innovation initiatives and track and report on innovation metrics and business impact regularly.
  • Act as the innovation champion for the entire organization towards AECF being recognised as an innovation leader among funders, partners and the private sector.
Partnership Development and Resource Mobilization
  • Identify, onboard and sustain partnerships that align with AECF’s strategy and priorities, managing relationships to maximise value to partners and AECF’s beneficiaries – rural and marginalized communities across sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Maximise mobilization of third-party funds (public and private sector donors including bilateral, multilateral, and foundation donors) and bring co-financier and/or co-investor resources to support existing and new programmes/products.
  • Lead origination, concept note and proposal development towards ensuring the diversification of the AECF program and product portfolio.
  • Identify external assets and companies that may accelerate investment, innovation and market access through partnerships and acquisitions.

Qualifications and Experience

  • University Master’s degree in Business, Finance related field.
  • 15+ years of relevant experience in investment management, management consulting, finance, or private sector development with a bias to social impact investing. 5+ years as a senior executive.
  • Demonstrated track record in development finance in emerging markets with progressive experience in the design and structuring of grant programs or debt funds.
  • Proven ability to identify opportunities, develop strategy, mobilize resources, and execute, iterating and adapting as required.
  • Demonstrated fundraising experience (closing or co-leading).
  • Demonstrated success in defining a culture of innovation, driving growth and delivering results to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.
  • Working knowledge of Agribusiness, Renewable Energy, and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Excellent partnerships development skills and ability to build relationships with development partners, governments, investors, and private sectors.
  • Excellent and visionary leader with great interpersonal skills to build a strong work ethic, impeccable integrity, and good judgment.
  • Demonstrated accomplishment in building, managing, and motivating teams

Terms of Appointment

This is a full-time position with the successful candidate being contracted on a three-year basis with the possibility of renewal. Salary is competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience.
The AECF is an Equal Opportunity Employer. The AECF considers all applicants based on merit without regard to race, sex, colour, national origin, religion, age, disability or any other characteristic protected by applicable law.

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

How to Apply

If you wish to be considered for this position, please complete the Application form below  on or before 10 December 2021. In addition, we encourage you to please attach a copy of your most recent English CV.  

All information will be treated in the strictest confidence. If you have an initial query rather than an application, kindly email us at  [email protected].

SRI Executive is exclusively retained by AECF to undertake this assignment.

Application form

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