Operations Director at Spark Microgrants

By | December 23, 2019

We are hiring an Operations Director!


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 weekly trainings 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 an additional two years of management support.

In our first decade we reached 320+ villages who have collectively launched more than 300 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.

Our team of 50+ people is spread across 4 countries in East Africa and the US, sharing a common vision and value system: Facilitation is at the core of everything we do: from supporting our communities to take their own decisions to working with our partners to adapt the model to their context to leading internal discussions. We are authentic – what we do is what we say and what we say is what we mean. We believe in being process-centered and that the how of what we do is just as important as the what. Our team is dynamic in seeking opportunities – from testing our model with a partner in a new country to taking it to national scale with a government – and we are not afraid to take risks. And above all we are community-driven: putting our communities’ needs at the forefront of all our work.


As Spark pivots from a traditional implementation NGO to a training and service provider for governments and civil societies, our growth strategy demands tightening our operational efficiency model, internal systems and deliberately building the team. We are seeking an Operations Director to lead organizational excellence and shape our operational model to deliver our impact in a lean way.

You will develop financial growth models and projections, strengthen internal HR systems and develop our finance and people teams to drive operational efficiency as Spark scales across Rwanda and beyond.

The Operations Director will work closely with the Executive team and interact with the Board of Directors to drive high level operational strategy relating to financial and team development. This person in this role will directly manage a Finance Director, HR Manager and Organizational Excellence Manager with opportunity to build out their teams further.

We are looking for candidates with a strong strategic finance mind, passion for culture and people development, who are excited about new age institution building and are excellent at management.


Spearhead organizational excellence:

● Lead a process that ensures we set strong organizational goals, budgets and KPIs across the organization, continually drive efficiency and quality, and develop work plans that enable us deliver to our target.

● Ensure strong processes, systems and procedures are developed and operationalized across Spark, ensuring compliance across countries of operations and sources of funding. This will include responsibilities such as internal audits, compliance checks, procurement policies and oversight, etc.

● Drive change management across Spark and its team as our models changes and we grow and ensure that Spark’s culture and unique approach is kept in mind, supported and exacerbated.

● Manage and develop functional teams within and across Finance, Human Resources (HR), and Operations to support Spark’s program teams, including working closely with the Organizational Excellence Manager who builds management capacity and strengthens internal communication.

Drive Strategic Finance:

● Responsible for developing growth and financial models that drive operational efficiency and impact: lead on financial modeling for growth, and analysis on efficiency such as modeling out cost per community for different scenarios. Be a thought partner to program leads during expansion planning.

● Directly manage Finance Director who leads finance team to deliver on budgets, reports, policies and internal financial regulations and to ensure priority goals, systems, reports, audits and compliance processes remain current.

● Lead the development of budgets for new business opportunities and revenue streams, such as government and nonprofit contract based work.

● Manage the board finance committee (quarterly calls, develop decks and set agenda to review strategic financial questions).

Lead the People Function:

● Overall owner on the senior leadership team for all aspects of our people systems. This includes the employee life cycle and experience and ensuring Spark’s culture is embedded and reinforced at every step.

● Responsible for building a strong integrated people function, including HR and talent development. Supervise and streamline key talent processes incl. recruitment, onboarding, talent development and performance management.

● Ensure we’re building an effective organization structure towards growth. Directly support senior level recruitment.

Restricted Grant Management and Reporting

● Liaise with the fundraising team, both on understanding key donor and reporting requirements, and coordinating the finance team link when preparing proposals.

● Project manage Spark’s delivery of larger, restricted and complex grants: This includes fully understanding donor requirements and deliverables, operationalizing these into our systems, procedures, schedules and agreements with partners. Ensure capacity building internally and in our partners’ teams.


Passion for rural communities owning their future

● You are driven by a world with strong civil society where communities are in the driving seat of local change.

● You are passionate about improving aid delivery and governance.

Senior strategic finance skills and experience

● You have built projections and budget models on complex scenarios to inform programmatic or business growth.

● Expert level Excel skills, with ability to build models with multiple scenarios.

● You have overseen and coordinated creation of significant budgets before, ideally annual budgets of 2m$ upwards.

 Preferred: You have handled multiple restricted grants from large, bilateral or multilateral donors and understand their complex reporting requirements.

● Past experience that may have prepared you for this role: Business Analytics, Financial modelling or consulting/advisory for growth stage organizations (ie. on capex and opex models, ROI models, investment strategies, organizational (re)structuring and design)

● Preferred: Audit or internal audit experience.

● Accounting experience and skills not required, but ability to understand key concepts is key.

Strong process mind

● You’re organized and enjoy bringing structure to an organization, ensuring things run smoothly and getting the organization ready for growth and new opportunities.

● You have strong past results in creating and implementing processes, ability to influence adoption in the team and iterating the process based on learnings, ideally in finance, operations and HR.

● Proven results in optimization during growth (year on year efficiency or optimization KPIs you have achieved in previous organizations).

● You understand HR from a procedural angle (at least!) and are excited to dig into the people function.

Strong Manager

● You have a strong management record of at least 5 years of leading, nurturing and retaining great talent. You can show how you helped team members take on new responsibilities, learn new skills and grow into new roles.

● Experience leading managers and across different functional areas is an added advantage.

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 enter the organization 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 crazy ideas, your vision for the future and your critical questions.

● You’ll never be bored – but we also respect and value work life balance and your need for down time, vacation and reflection.


Location will be Kigali, Rwanda with ~30% travel within the country and the region.

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 3-4 years.

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