Program Officer, Scale Africa, Financial Services for the Poor

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Foundation Background

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people-especially those with the fewest resources-have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.

Global Growth and Opportunity Background

To do so, the Foundation partners with people and organizations worldwide, through grant making, to tackle critical problems across various program areas and divisions including the Global Growth and Opportunity (GGO) division. The Global Growth and Opportunity (GGO) division focuses on the areas of Agricultural Development; Financial Services for the Poor (FSP); Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and Global Education. We believe that people are poor because markets do not work for them, and we promote innovative products and policies that can break down barriers to economic opportunity, help people lift themselves out of poverty, and deliver sustainable and inclusive growth that benefits everyone.

Financial Services for the Poor Background

Rigorous evidence shows that low-cost formal financial products can help low-income households withstand shocks and capture opportunities to move out of poverty. The Financial Services for the Poor’s (FSP’s) strategy is predicated on the belief that a pro-poor digital payment system is required to enable the private sector to deliver such products to the poor at scale. By 2030, FSP aims to ensure that 80% of adults worldwide and 60% of sub-$2.5/day adults use a digital account. As of 2017, 1.7 billion adults remain financially excluded of which 400+ million live in Africa, with the majority or 60% being women. Achieving near Universal Financial Access in Africa will contribute significantly to reaching FSPs and the SDG goals by 2030. FSP partners with public and private organizations and supports projects at the national, regional, and continental level across Africa.

Position Summary

Reporting to Financial Services for the Poor’s (FSP) Deputy Director, Payments, the Program Officer will be responsible for regional partner development in support of the Scale Africa strategy, with a focus on supporting the acceleration and scale up of pro-poor digital payment systems and the related rules, standards, and regulatory harmonization across Africa. You will work in close collaboration with the Program Officer coordinating FSP’s Pan-African Strategy as it relates to the accelerations and scale up of pro-poor digital payment systems and related regulatory harmonization.

Core Responsibilities

Collaborating with regional partners: Identify, develop, and collaborate with regional grantees/ partners in supporting the execution of their work and developing grant proposals; represent the foundation to key programmatic external constituencies related to Inclusive Instant Payment Systems (or Real-Time Retail Payment Systems) aligned to the Level One Project ( (30% of time)

Grantmaking/Investing for Impact: Builds and manages regional partnerships in Africa to achieve program goals; designs, implements and manages an investment portfolio in support of the Scale Africa strategy; gains clarity between the foundation and the grantee or partner on a shared set of outcomes. Review expressions of interest, concept notes and grant proposals; provide clear, concise, and insightful written analyses and recommendations for funding, including drafting and editing proposal summaries and progress reports for existing grants for review by foundation leadership. Consult with grantees to achieve desired impact of grants; conducts site visits when appropriate, provide technical guidance to regional grantees, convene meetings, and evaluate milestone-based performance objectives. Seek and manage co-funding opportunities for projects requiring investment beyond foundation resources. Manage internal processes and portfolio progress while ensuring appropriate documentation, grant budgeting and reporting. (30% of time)

Technical/Professional/Knowledge/Skills: Apply and translate strong technical and/or professional knowledge in Digital Financial Services, Instant and Inclusive Digital Payment Systems, in support of the Scale Africa sub-initiative. Prepare and write briefs and synthesize existing literature. Provide written analysis of key topics for foundation management. Fulfills data requests from leadership (20% of time).

Supporting the Pan-African Strategy: collaborate and work closely with colleagues focused on pan-African Strategy to create synergies and flow between regional & pan-African projects as regions are building blocks for advancing the pan-African strategy (10% of time)

Leading self & others: Communicates complex information and concepts simply; Sets high goals for accomplishment; working independently to meet or exceed goals while deriving satisfaction from that achievement and continuous improvement; Works with team to execute a strategy with guidance on expected results (10% of time)

Leadership and Culture

We believe that energized people, working well together, fueled by great leadership in an inclusive environment in which they thrive, will do phenomenal things.

Core Knowledge and Skills

  • Strong knowledge and expertise in Digital Financial Services, Instant and Inclusive Payment Systems, digital ID systems.

  • Demonstrated deep knowledge and insight on the role of digital technologies in women’s economic empowerment in Africa. Candidates with lived experience in Africa strongly preferred.

  • Effective collaborator in complex internal and external orgs with demonstrable teamwork skills

  • Leadership abilities to work with multiple partners, including government, other donors, grantees to create a common vision and visualize simple and effective but implementable solutions to complex problems.

  • Comfortable in a wide range of cultural, geographic, and operational situations, demonstrating culturally sensitive behavior with a diverse range of people.

  • Strong understanding of shaping and leading sustainable and scalable ventures.

  • Strong analytical, writing, and verbal skills for communicating with a broad and diverse audience.

  • Extensive project management experience.

  • Works with efficiency and diplomacy.

Education and Experience

Bachelor’s or other advanced degree with 5+ years of experience, or equivalent experience.

*Applicants for this role will only be considered if they are able to legally work in the country where this position is located without visa sponsorship.

**The foundation requires a COVID-19 vaccination for in-person business in the United States of America. Therefore, all U.S. employees are required to present proof of vaccination status upon hire unless they qualify for a medical or religious exemption.


As part of our standard hiring process for new employees, employment with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be contingent upon successful completion of a background check.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is dedicated to the belief that all lives have equal value. We’re committed to creating a workplace where employees thrive both personally and professionally. We also believe our employees should reflect the rich diversity of the global populations we aim to serve-in race, gender, age, cultures and beliefs-and we support this diversity through all of our employment practices.

All applicants and employees who are drawn to serve the mission of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will enjoy equality of opportunity and fair treatment without regard to:

* Race

* Color

* Age

* Religion

* Pregnancy

* Sex

* Sexual Orientation

* Disability

* Gender Identity

* Gender Expression

* National Origin

* Genetic Information

* Veteran Status

* Marital Status

* Prior Protected Activity

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