Executive Director (African Agricultural Transformation Initiative)

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Nairobi, Kenya

About International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency dedicated to eradicating rural poverty and hunger. It does so by investing in the millions of people who are most at risk of being left behind: poor, small-scale food producers, women, young people, and other vulnerable groups living in rural areas. IFAD finances programmes and projects that increase agricultural productivity and raise rural incomes, and advocates at the local, national, and international level for policies that contribute to rural transformation. Since 1978, IFAD has provided over US$21 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 491 million people.
IFAD envisions vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable rural economies, where people live free from poverty and hunger. Its mission is to transform rural economies and food systems by making them more inclusive, productive, resilient, and sustainable.
IFAD catalyses public and private investments, helps strengthen policies and promotes innovation, in order to achieve sustainable benefits for the poor at scale and support all countries to achieve lasting, systemic change. IFAD works with governments, the private sector, civil society, and other development partners and use a range of instruments, tools, and knowledge to respond to the challenges facing countries with the most critical needs.
You can find further details on their website http://www.ifad.org

Role Purpose

The Executive Director (AATI) will manage the staff of the central unit, represent the AATI externally, lead fundraising efforts and drive expansion of the initiative to new countries and head the AATl central unit.
The African Agricultural Transformation Initiative (AATI) was created by four founding partners, including the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, McKinsey & Company, and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. AATI aims to foster inclusive and sustainable agricultural transformations across the African continent, replicating the success of delivery units in driving agricultural transformations, like the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) in Ethiopia. In the case of Ethiopia, the successful combination of governance, follow-through and continuous investment led to an agricultural transformation that raised yields by 76%, lifted 9.5 million out of poverty, reduced the number of undernourished individuals by 11.5 million, and avoided stunting in 1.2 million children. This illustrates the potential impact of agricultural transformation if key success factors are in place.
Over five years (2021-2026), the AATI will seek to establish new (and strengthen existing) national Agricultural Transformation Agencies (ATAs), initially in two pilot countries, to coordinate policymaking and implementation along with monitoring and evaluation to drive agricultural transformation, with the support of a central AATI unit. After 2-3 years the intention is to scale up to a further two countries, pending sufficient resource mobilization efforts. The central unit will be hosted by IFAD and will work with national ATAs to identify priority areas for inclusive and sustainable agricultural transformation and assist them in designing policies and projects in these priority areas. In addition to the central unit, the AATI is expected to include a steering committee and an advisory board that will provide support and guidance. The Executive Director (ED) will be tasked with leading the central unit as well as serving on the advisory board to the national ATAs.
The AATI ED will have a leading role in empowering inclusive and sustainable agricultural transformation in at least two countries, owning relationships with senior government representatives including at the ministerial level, and enabling collaboration with private sector and civil society. As the main external face of the AATI, the ED will be key to raising awareness of and enthusiasm for the AATI beyond the founding partners, and therefore will be critical to overall AATI success. As such, they will have the opportunity to expand the transformational influence of the AATI beyond the initial two countries. A suitable AATI ED candidate will come with a broad African agricultural policy network, on-the-ground experience (ideally in transformation), as well as demonstrated experience in managing high-level stakeholders.
Under the overall guidance of the Office of the President and Vice-President, the Executive Director (AATI) will report to the Associate Vice-President of the Programme Management Department.

Duties and Responsibilities

Position Specifics:
  • Lead the AATI central unit in establishing and supporting national ATAs
Coordinate, advance and update the overall strategic AATI planning and implementation process (e.g., drive the country selection process and subsequent establishment of national ATAs, and coordinate the formulation and timely implementation of AATl's annual work plan incl. concrete objectives, programme of work and budget)
Assure strategic coherence and effective operational cooperation in partner engagements at international and regional levels and within the country processes (e.g., mobilize political support in the appropriate setting including from national ATA host governments, and collaborate directly with donors and partners)
Develop, foster, and facilitate discussions on AATI vision and culture, maintaining a mindset of innovation
Report regularly to the AATI Steering Committee
Manage the AATl team of staff and consultants, facilitate the coordination between different activities, ensure a collaborative environment, and support their work with other related initiatives inside and outside IFAD
Provide guidance to the team and supervise the communication strategy of AATI.
Establish and execute effective exit strategies for national ATAs whereby, at the appropriate time, full ownership is handed to the host government
  • Represent AATI externally and cultivate critical collaborative relationships with key stakeholder s including national governments, relevant private sector players and key decision-makers
Be responsible for all AATI external relations and advocacy functions
Work with governments to ensure that the national ATAs are well embedded within the national government structures and mobilize political support in appropriate settings
Support the national ATAs to strengthen partnerships with the private sector, and boost the involvement and buy-in of private sector stakeholders in national agricultural transformation.
Work with the AATI founding partners and the national ATAs to form partnerships with other important stakeholders and decision-makers, including bilateral, multilateral and philanthropic actors, to increase the impact, visibility and spill-over effects of the AATl
  • Lead strategic fundraising plan through own and partner networks, including convening high-level stakeholders
Develop and execute a fundraising strategy that leverages the networks and coordinates the efforts of the founding partners, as well as identifying key entry points and engaging high-level stakeholders to reach fundraising targets
  • Drive expansion of the initiative including putting in place a platform or framework that facilitates the expansion of AATI to new countries
Building upon the progress, interest and lessons learned from the two initial countries, develop and execute strategies led by the central unit to establish new (or strengthen existing) national ATAs in at least two additional countries
Lead high-level relationships and mobilize the right level of effort to expand AATI
  • Any other duties as and when required by the Steering Committee and Advisory board that are in line with this position and are aimed at achieving AATI's objectives and goal

Key Performance Indicators

Position specific: The Executive Director (AATI) will be evaluated on the following key performance indicators based on the major functional activities described above:
A) Lead the central AA TI unit in establishing and supporting national ATAs
  • Ensure the overall efficient delivery of the AATI, including establishing two national ATAs in selected countries to strengthen government capacity to formulate and deliver policies to promote agricultural transformation
  • Ensure appropriate use and management of AATI resources
  • Complete regular reporting of progress, results, challenges and lessons learned to the AATI Steering Committee according to designated reporting schedule
  • Ensure a collaborative environment and provide guidance to the central AATI team.
B) Represent the AATI externally and cultivate critical collaborative relationships with key stakeholders including national governments, relevant private sector players and key decision-makers to leverage synergies and increase AATI impact
C) Meet target for additional financing to ensure scale-up of the AATI in the two selected countries and additional countries
D) Scale up initiative two additional countries by Year 3 of the initiative.

The Executive Director (AATI) will deliver the current AATI programme of work on time and, together with the main partners, will determine the scope of AATI for the remainder of the initiative based on resources mobilized.

Working Relationships

Position specific: The Executive Director (AATI) will manage the central AATI team of staff and consultants and will also be responsible to identify directly and deal with existing and potential donors. The Executive Director will further advise the national ATAs and represent the AATI to external stakeholders.
Knowledge sharing will involve:
  • discussions with clients and stakeholders at country, regional and global levels;
  • regular dialogue and collaborative efforts among its donors (particularly the members of the AATI Steering Committee) and technical partners (particularly the members of the AATI Advisory Board); and
  • organization of focused client and service provider workshops/round tables on specific AATI-related issues.

Education, Qualifications & Experience

Organizational Competencies - Level 1

  • Strategic thinking and organizational development: Personal influence
  • Demonstrating Leadership: Personal leadership and attitude to change
  • Learning, sharing knowledge and innovating: Continuously seeks to learn, shares knowledge, and innovates
  • Focusing on clients: Focuses on clients
  • Problem solving and decision making: Demonstrates sound problem solving and decision-making ability
  • Managing time, resources, and information: Manages own time, information, and resources effectively
  • Teamwork: Contributes effectively to the team
  • Communicating and negotiating: Communicates effectively: creates understanding between self and others
  • Building relationships and partnerships: Builds and maintains effective working relationships



Level - Advanced university degree
Areas - political science, management, economics, international relations, law, international development, rural development, agricultural economics, or related fields.
Degree must be an accredited institution listed on https://whed.net/home.php


Work experience:

  • At least fifteen (15) years of progressively responsible professional experience in international experience (including exposure to public sector management), e.g., in international organizations, private sector, or rural development/financial institutions, preferably in the field of agricultural transformation in Africa.
  • Ten (10) years in a multi-cultural organization or national organization providing support on a global scope.
Position-specific experience:
  • Demonstrated managing level experience, preferably including set-up and management of a start-up business, with evidence of professional approach to handling multiple demands, earning trust with colleagues, nurturing talent and willingness to delegate responsibilities; Demonstrated experience in steering and supporting reforms I change (private or public sector), preferably in Africa and including institutional capacity building of governments to deliver policies promoting agricultural transformation; Demonstrated experience in roles requiring collaboration with a diverse set of partners in a multi­ stakeholder governance structure as well as ability to work with efficiency and diplomacy; Demonstrated experience in managing a team, including recruitment of senior staff members and joint achievement of identified goals; Demonstrated experience and results in scaling initiatives through resource mobilization and stakeholder management in different public and private sector contexts.
  • Deep knowledge of and reputation in sub-Saharan Africa; Demonstrated knowledge and concrete application of initiatives to strengthen government delivery capacity, ideally in an African context. Proven ability to engage in policy dialogue and discussions involving high-level government officials, donors and other stakeholders
  • Familiarity with the key regional and global centres of excellence in relevant professional areas/domains.


  • Required English (4 - Excellent), French (3 - fluent especially verbal communication)


Job role specific

  • Leadership: Group thought leader, sought out by others and providing mentorship and effective guidance to others; Ability to build trust , inside and outside the organization by acting as a role model for IFAD and AATI's core values and competencies, and to provide a clear sense of direction , mentorship and effective guidance to the team, strategizing the AATI's goals, giving the vision, empowering the team and ensuring a positive environment for all;
  • Political acumen: Ability to conduct sound political analysis and understand complex environments, providing options and advice
  • Change management: Role modelling, anticipation of key risks and conflicts and formulation of contingency plans/solutions, action-oriented
  • Planning: Know-how in the planning of human, financial and material management of IFAD and MTI resources
  • Advocacy: Ability to leverage IFAD and MTI knowledge and/or communication materials to maintain and promote constructive dialogue around IFAD and M Tl's vision and strategic priorities to external actors
  • Policy dialogue: Know-how in the representation of IFAD and AATI as a trusted and strategic partner; effective consultations with IFAD and MTI counterparts - line ministries and governmental bodies at all administrative levels, donors, civil society
  • Evidence-based policy: Know-how in the formulation of concrete and actionable policy recommendations based on hard evidence (going beyond simple data interpretation)
  • Strategy implementation: Ability to lead and manage the development and implementation of medium to longer-term strategies for MTI
  • Corporate approach: Ability to bring in corporate vision and priorities into one's area of work (e.g., budgeting going beyond simple budgetary considerations, taking into account strategic priorities)
  • Confidentiality and Discretion: Establishes self and division as trusted advisor to internal stakeholders by maintaining high level of discretion and confidentiality in assignments; demonstrates sound judgement when dealing with sensitive and/or confidential matters; drives good governance and is a "Culture Carrier" demonstrating IFAD institutional conscience throughout
  • Specialized communication skills: Ability to negotiate on behalf of IFAD and AATI and drive for creative and pragmatic solutions in complex negotiations with key partners, both public and private sector
  • Risk management (e.g. reputational): Identification and assessment of potential liabilities and risks in IFAD and AATl's activities, particularly vis-a-vis third parties; ability to handle risks via contingency and mitigation strategies; (e.g. reputational)
  • Resources Management: Know-how in the management of human, financial and material management of IFAD and AATI resources
  • Programme / project development and management: Know-how in programme / project development, implementation, management

Position specific

  • Stakeholder management: Strong alignment capabilities and consultation skills, building on effective interactions and relationships with different stakeholders (e.g., for the co-creation of communication material with member states) and ability to build and maintain a strong network (e.g., with journalists, media outlets, etc.)
  • IFAD and AATI partners: Knowledge of IFAD and AATl's partners' functioning and mandate, such as the public sector (e.g., governments and policy, institutions, and system), non-state actors (NGOs, CSOs, Foundations, etc.) and private sector actors

Terms of Appointment

This is a two-year fixed-term co-terminus position fully financed with supplementary funds. Contract renewal depends on the fund availability and/or duration of the project. There is no guarantee of renewal or conversion into another kind of contract.
Role Location: Nairobi, Kenya

How to Apply

If you wish to be considered for this position, please complete the Application Form below on or before 17 December 2021. In addition, we encourage you to please attach a copy of the most recent English version of your 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 IFAD to undertake this assignment.

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