Design Director at Spark MicroGrants

By | August 17, 2020


Spark MicroGrants believes in a world where everyone lives with dignity and determines their own positive future. Decades of prescriptive aid have sidelined the poor from the very programs meant to uplift them. For nearly a decade, Spark MicroGrants has been pioneering a new approach to international aid. We believe in local solutions and catalyzing rural villages facing poverty into action. After years of refining a community organizing and seed funding model for rural village action, we are garnering demand from emerging nations and leading civil society organizations to train and support them to adapt and deploy the approach at scale.

At the heart of Spark’s model, the Facilitated Collective Action Process (FCAP), are ‘town-hall’ style weekly meetings, in which women and men, young and old, plan together for their community’s future. Each village democratically elects a leadership committee, establishes a village savings account, and launches a project of their choice. Members receive training on financial management and transparency, leadership, village planning, and advocacy. Each village then receives US$8,000 in seed funds to turn project ideas into reality and receives additional management support.

In our first decade, we reached 320+ villages who each launch their own local impact projects, benefiting over 230,000 lives. In the next three years, we seek to accelerate the growth of this approach, through establishing a national program to reach 12,000 villages in Rwanda, lead cutting edge research on the benefits of facilitation and curate a global community of practice for organizations across the continent and beyond actively using the FCAP.

As a team, we share a set of common values that shape ‘how’ we work. These are:

  1. Facilitators. We don’t impose; we enable others to generate impact.
  2. Community-driven. We are motivated by what is best for the community.
  3. Process-centered. The how of what we do is just as important as the what.
  4. Authentic. Our vision and values live in everything we do.
  5. Dynamic. We seek opportunities and are willing to take risks to serve our community partners better.


As Spark continues its journey to becoming a trusted partner, trainer and service provider for governments and civil society groups, we are seeking a Design Director to make us best in class at co-designing the FCAP with our partners and for their context. This includes providing our partners with the design support, training, and tools to learn, integrate, and deploy the FCAP in their regions. Your strategic leadership will guarantee successful replication and adaptation of our model through partners globally and ensure we are continuously learning and improving. The person in this role will work closely with the Executive team and interact with the Board of Directors; they will build up a new Design function at Spark, integrating and strengthening three teams (FCAP Design, Training Design, Product) of 8+ staff.

We are looking for candidates with a strong background in design thinking, ideally within a rural development context, familiarity with training methodologies and platforms, enthusiasm for building out a new function at Spark to serve our growth, strong customer experience focus, and a passion for working with civil society groups and government to build a vibrant Community of Practice. The right candidate will not want to do ‘development as usual’ but question ‘how’ aid works and ensure that Spark’s program ultimately serves and is accountable to the villages we serve.



  • Refine, test and streamline a co-design process of the FCAP with new partners that results in FCAP variations retaining their core impact drivers while adapting to the local context;
  • Support the FCAP Design Director in strengthening and continuously improving Spark’s core model and guides;
  • Build and manage Spark’s Product team to create and develop tools that partners need to implement design processes, use and implement the FCAP, conduct and deliver training, collect data, and get support;
  • Lead on relationships and engagements with external partners in the development of Spark’s digital toolkit;
  • Year 1 focus: Build out Spark’s digital toolkit incorporating elements from training to data collection to peer interaction in support of  a 250 village roll out in Rwanda in partnership with local government.



  • Expand our training capacity and take our training global by developing and testing high-quality remote training  for new partners and piloting ideas such as a global online practitioner network;
  • Build capacity and oversee the training design team to be a partner to our implementing teams in learning and scaling new training methodologies and multi-channel training offers
  • Year 1 focus: Oversee and refine a documented methodology and tools to train 500+ youth facilitators in Rwanda through a combination of in-person and digital training.


Team & strategy

  • Build up a new Design function and drive department and organizational strategy including setting and achieving departmental and organizational goals;
  • Manage, develop and expand a team of 8 or more design staff, including senior and middle managers across the functional areas on FCAP Design, Training Design, Product and ensure all staff have clear responsibility domains, deliverables, growth opportunities, and support to achieve their goal;
  • Proactively reach out to other organizational leaders and the team to establish and strengthen a design culture across Spark and lead team development on best practices for driving co-design processes, training methodology and progressive education models.;
  • Year 1 key focus: Integrate the three existing sub-teams into a cohesive design team with strong performance including recruitment of key roles (e.g. product manager) and development of existing staff.


Passion for rural communities owning their future

  • You are driven by a world with a strong civil society where communities are in the driving seat of local change.
  • You are passionate about improving aid delivery and governance.

Design thinker and training enthusiast

  • You have a strong design track record and can point to several examples where you have led the design and implementation of your ideas, AND / OR
  • You have demonstrated excellence in building out multi-channel training platforms and supporting partners at scale in understanding and implementing new models.
  • You pair this functional expertise with a deep understanding of rural community development and users.


  • You have strong past results in creating and implementing ideas and processes, the ability to influence adoption in the team, and iterating the process based on learnings.
  • You’re organized and enjoy bringing structure to your team, ensuring that plans are well thought-through and meaningfully engage key stakeholders.

Entrepreneur and team builder

  • You have effectively managed small to medium-sized teams (ideally in a multicultural context), leading, nurturing, and retaining great talent.
  • You are excited at the opportunity to create and build a new division and to integrate design thinking into organizational strategy.

You have the cultural fit to work with us here at Spark, if:

  • You are dynamic, self-driven, and proactively seek out feedback.
  • You keep yourself organized, yet lift your head up to think strategically on the regular and relish the challenge of applying a range of approaches to answer complex questions.
  • You are a leader with a passion for transforming bold ideas into actionable strategies. You drive new initiatives, embrace and push for change, and aren’t afraid to try something new.
  • You are a facilitator, you listen intently, integrate feedback, and create an environment where everyone feels comfortable to speak up and develop ideas together.
  • You drive thoughtful processes to make strategic decisions and problem solve. You collaborate and prioritize an inclusive process that can be replicated in the future.
  • You are authentic. You speak your mind and you live your values.


  • Spark has grown every year since founding. You will join as part of senior leadership with immense opportunity to shape the future of the organization and grow as a leader.
  • Spark has been recognized by the Government of Rwanda, NYTimes, Obama Foundation, Draper Richards Kaplan, Forbes, and beyond as a leader in community-driven change.
  • You will be joining a team that hails from ten countries around the world and is committed to a new world where every village and every neighborhood has the power to drive local change.
  • You will have the freedom and autonomy to make your role your own. We want to hear your innovative ideas, your vision for the future, and your critical questions.
  • You’ll never be bored – AND we also respect and value work-life balance and your need for downtime, vacation and reflection. That’s why in addition to salary, we provide generous paid leave benefits.


Currently, our field operations are adapting to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Our teams are supporting our communities virtually and we expect that when things open up demand for development solutions will be high in the communities we serve. We are working on refining our growth and virtual support models at this time. 

Location: Kigali, Rwanda, or Kampala, Uganda are preferred locations, but we are open to virtual work in the first ~6 months while we monitor the COVID situation and assess risks.

Start Date: We are targeting a October/November 2020 start date with virtual onboarding.

We will agree on a six month probation period with learning and performance objectives. We are looking for someone who is committed to this role for at least 3 years.

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