Country Director

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About Cycle Connect

Cycle Connect is focused on moving farmers in East Africa out of extreme poverty. We believe that distance should not be a barrier to opportunity and that is why we work on serving last mile farmers.

Millions of farmers are financially excluded and yet need access to assets on credit. This is where Cycle Connect delivers, as we specialize in offering productive assets on financing plans, reaching the most last mile customers, and offering low barrier loan terms built for farmers, enabling them to increase their income and in turn propel their communities forward.

We began our full-time operations in 2014 and early-on pivoted to a business approach and recently rebranded to further strengthen our commitment to a blended enterprise and impact model. We have a growing number of assets in our portfolio, including oxen and plough, bicycles, motorcycles, grinding machines, and a rich pipeline for even more. To date, we have worked with close to 5,000 farmers across two different branches and backed up by 30 team members (and growing!).

Over the next three years, we will serve 20,000 farmers, set up 1-2 new branches, and expand into a new region - all by the end of 2021. Ultimately we are relentlessly focused on reaching one million customers by per year 2033 and penetrating throughout East Africa during that time.

About the role

As Cycle Connect is growing and evolving, the CEO and founder will focus her efforts more externally in the next years, spending more time overseas. We are looking to hire a Country Director to lead the implementation of our operations and champion our growth in Uganda over the next years.

 We are looking for a strong leader, motivator and culture shaper to take our aspirations and plans, putting them in motion. You will lead the execution, keep us on track and push us forward. You will evolve our culture as needed, building the team and individuals, keeping everyone motivated and focused. As you sharpen our business model in a largely unexplored market, you will need to spearhead an agile experimentation mindset as we implement strategic initiatives, while working with the senior leadership team to build a smooth consistent execution machine.

Success will mean that our different departments and branches will perform strongly: 

Where there is strong sales growth as well as a healthy credit portfolio, where our clients repay their loans and effectively improve their living standards. We will trust you to build a highly engaged team and a cohesive culture as we grow across Uganda (and later East Africa), and prove that the business model is viable.

Your responsibilities will include:

Overseeing company performance

  • Lead and manage the different department heads.
  • Work with the Regional Manager towards credit performance targets being met, including both sales numbers as well as quality of the loan portfolio. When needed, help troubleshoot and come up with viable strategies and tactics to improve sales and credit performance, involving the field team.
  • Manage the country’s budget and keep track of other key financials alongside the Head of Finance.
  • Liaise closely with the Head of Operations to drive a culture of improvement, efficiency and effectiveness in all areas and processes.
  • Keep impact metrics top of mind and work to ensure that all of Cycle Connect’s outputs are focused on increasing income for our farming customers. Partner with the CEO on overseeing research for impact monitoring and evaluation.

Driving expansion and growth

  • Work with the operations and credit department to ensure that new branches are running effectively.
  • Lead market exploration for new branch(es) as well as a new region to expand into by 2021. Regional expansion is new at Cycle Connect, therefore you will personally pioneer the work and spearhead relevant processes, while working with the team to implement this exciting growth initiative.
  • Rally the team behind expansion and growth efforts, ensuring that people are motivated and excited by Cycle Connect’s developments.
  • Work with the Operations Director on building out processes and systems that allow for, or even encourage, replication of branches and regions.
  • Anticipating hiring and other talent needs as part of expansion, and work with HR and Operations to ensure we build teams and managers in new areas, matching our ethos being mindful of the local culture.
  • Preparing for growth across the country, move the headquarters from the field (Gulu) to Kampala (a centralized location), ensuring we maintain a fun and cohesive team culture and thinking through how it will affect team dynamics, logistics, and oversight of performance.

Strategy and Management

  • Work closely with the CEO to develop strategies for the achievement of Cycle Connect’s vision. It is then your responsibility to ensure that these strategies are executed well on behalf of the company. Our Uganda operations and performance will inform our later growth across East Africa and beyond.
  • Work with the CEO to think through and refine key strategic initiatives that will ensure Cycle Connect moves towards scalability and profitability. Oversee implementation of these initiatives, work with the team to prototype and learn, ensure we use lean ways to achieve good progress.
  • Lead quarterly in-country planning processes and work with the CEO on the annual planning process. Ensure that there is department-level and team goal setting that is in alignment with Cycle Connect’s short, medium, and long-term goals.
  • Keep abreast with trends, evolving realities and needs in the sector and raise opportunities to the CEO and Senior Leadership Team

Talent and Culture

  • Role model and spearhead an enabling team leadership and performance management style that trickles down to build an effective culture across all offices. You’ll work to tap into the team’s wisdom and abilities, rather than pursuing the path yourself.
  • Act as the chief culture officer, making sure that the team embodies the Cycle Connect values and everyone is aligned to the company culture. Work with the leadership team and CEO on areas of culture that need growth or emphasis.
  • Oversee HR within Uganda, including ensuring all key positions are filled, managers are supported, and the organizational structure is consistently revisited to maintain effectiveness.

Who we are looking for:

  • You have at least 10-12 years of professional experience with at least 5-7 years in leadership positions
  • At least in one of your last roles, you had experience in a fast-growing company, and you were part of the critical thinking needed to achieve the growth. You led a key department, helped expand into new territories or pushed significant commercial growth.
  • You have at least three years of experience in an impact-driven environment, preferably in a rural or field environment, in which you have acquired empathy, knowledge, and intuition around the low-income and last-mile customer. You will easily understand the dynamics of a field or branch office setting.
  • You’re a self-starter that’s excited to work in a fast-paced, start-up environment.

You have past results leading in uncertain environments and know how to promote adaptability, agility and lead people through change. Ideally you have past experience in user-centric environments, using experimentation and prototyping methods when building products and services.

  • You have managed team leaders before, enabling them to get the desired results through their teams. Your leadership style is to entrust others, empower them and leverage your team in decisions and implementation.
  • You have a background in business and a naturally strong business acumen that you want to apply to evolve and grow a unique business and impact model
  • We are ambitious and believe you should be, too. You push boundaries and strive for top results. You are able to motivate a team to achieve and surpass set goals.
  • You believe learning is constant and you inculcate a learning culture in those you work with.
  • You act with humility and make yourself accessible to those you work with.
  • You are solution-oriented and look at problems as opportunities to overcome. You are resilient and can inspire the team through moments of adversity.
  • You believe that markets are made to be disrupted and can think creatively of new ways to fill a market gap.
  • You have had responsibility for a significant budget, including taking decisions for investment and re-allocations.
  • Preferably have: experience with farmers and/or agriculture.
  • Preferably have: experience in financial services to serve those excluded.
  • Passionate about social impact and improving the lives of those in the last mile.
  • Ideally, have an MBA or Masters in Economics.

Other information

The role will be based in Kampala, with frequent travel to our field offices in Northern Uganda (and then a new region). 50% travel in the beginning and decreasing to 30-40% in subsequent years.  Given the nature of the work and the stage of the business, working hours are we will agree on a six month probation period with learning and performance objectives.

Want to apply?

  • Prepare your CV and tailor it to this opportunity, showcasing your relevant past roles clearly
  • Prepare the application video as outlined under http://bit.ly/CycleConnectCD - then submit your application via the form under the same link.
  • Got any questions? Email us on cdsearch@cycleconnect.org
  • Note: The selection process for this role will be carried out in collaboration with edge (edgeperformance.co.ke). All official communication for this search will come from email addresses in the domains cycleconnect.org or edgeperformance.co.ke