Regional Program Development Specialist – Mercy Corps – Nairobi

About Mercy Corps
Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible.
In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions
into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within.
Now, and for the future.

Program / Department Summary
Mercy Corps’ East and Southern Africa (ESA) Region has grown significantly over the past decade. With Mercy Corps’ continued focus on the 3 I’s – Impact, Influence and Innovation – the team has identified the need to effectively respond to New Business opportunities. Currently, Mercy Corps’ New Initiatives team focuses on:

Highly strategic submissions, particularly (though not exclusively) to institutional donors and
Initiatives that enhance overall agency proposal processes and competitiveness.
Team members are tasked to provide additional “person power” on specific, high priority efforts by assisting with all or some of the following: assembling a proposal team; executing team planning; undertaking on-site participatory assessment and design work; extensive writing; providing high-quality reviews and edits; and more

Examples of the types of strategic, agency-wide initiatives that the team has supported include: preparation and promotion of a proposal tool kit for improved planning; maintenance of a roster of proposal consultants; and organization of action reviews of proposals. With all of its activities, New Initiatives works in a highly collaborative manner with the agency as a whole, particularly the program operations team and country teams.

General Position Summary

The Regional Program Development Specialist (also known as Regional New Initiatives Specialist) will be a member of the New Initiatives team but responsible for supporting the ESA Africa region and, as such, will work particularly closely with the Regional Director (RD). His/her primary focus will be on program development including: 1) tracking the pipeline of potential new business opportunities for the region and supporting the RD, DRD and Country Directors (CD) in prioritizing and preparing for them; 2) leading and supporting program development efforts throughout the region; 3) helping to enhance the overall state of practice vis-à-vis proposal processes within the region; and 4) enhancing partner relations, with a particular emphasis on helping to diversify the agency’s partnerships in the region. In addition, he/she will be responsible for helping implement various other activities within the ESA Africa region that are part of the New Initiatives work plan.

Essential Job Responsibilities
Program/Proposal Design and Development
Responsible for leading and supporting all aspects of the development of strategic proposals throughout the ESA Africa region.
Apply the agency’s best practices in proposal development efforts supported by the Regional Director and New Initiatives team.
Support proposal development for: 1) medium and mid-level proposal opportunities; 2) the many emergency and humanitarian proposal opportunities that are generally smaller value but frequent; and 3) support work on larger strategic proposals, multi country opportunities and or European contracts in partnership with the NI team.
Strategic Pre-Positioning

Lead and support efforts that help Mercy Corps’ ESA’s programs to more pro-actively influence donor planning and access funding.
Support targeted assessments that will help create funding opportunities or increase competitiveness of the agency in solicitations.
Facilitate strategic planning sessions with country programs.
Track donor trends for potential opportunities in the emergency space that busy country teams might not be able to monitor or respond to at the time.
Build Regional Capacity

Build capacity of Mercy Corps’ staff within the region to work on proposals and run strong proposal and program development processes through team-work during actual proposal efforts, mentoring or tailored training activities,
Support / lead learning and communications activities for specific programs in the ESA region alongside country teams.
Support the startup of new strategic programs and projects especially those programs and projects that the Manager designed and wrote with country teams.
Contribute to activities that raise overall agency state of practice. As a member of the NI team, the Regional Program Development Specialist will spend a small portion of his/her time supporting agency-wide initiatives that enable Mercy Corps to more efficiently produce competitive submissions. (e.g. developing improved reference materials for proposal writers, contributing to efforts that capture learnings and results from our programs, and/or assisting with networking activities).
Provide a link for flow of important information and idea-exchange between the ESA region and the agency overall.


Responsible for proactively establishing, developing and nurturing relationships with partners in ESA region.
Coordinate alongside CDs with the HQ teams including Corporations and Foundations Teams and the MCE Institutional Partnership Managers and the RPT teams.
Spend time supporting agency-wide initiatives that enable Mercy Corps to more efficiently produce competitive submissions. (e.g. developing improved reference materials for proposal writers, contributing to efforts that capture learnings and results from our programs, and/or assisting with networking activities).
Keep up to date on relevant donor strategies being developed or applied by significant governmental, academic, and non-profit groups.
Work with Mercy Corps staff in the ESA region to determine how the agency can best work with and/or influence such materials.
Organizational Learning

As part of our commitment to organizational learning and in support of our understanding that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities they serve, we expect all team members to commit 5% of their time to learning activities that benefit Mercy Corps as well as themselves.
Accountability to Beneficiaries

Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically
to our beneficiaries and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging beneficiary communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.

Supervisory Responsibility

Reports Directly To: Regional Director, with dotted line to Director, New Initiatives

Works Directly With: Deputy Regional Director, Country Directors, Deputy Country Directors, Directors of Programs, Technical Service Unit, Desk team and New Initiatives team.

Knowledge and Experience
Master’s degree preferred; International Development or Business Science preferred.
5-7 years’ experience in program design and proposal development in a wide variety of sectors and geographic locations.
At least 2-3 years’ experience in field-based program and staff management, with regional knowledge of ESA region.
Preferable experience with emergency as well as development proposal writing
Proven ability to work productively with a wide variety of stakeholders to run both participatory process and meet tight deadlines with an emphasis on producing quality products.
Experience with a wide range of donors including USAID and European institutional donors. Familiarity with other donors, including corporate donors, a plus.
Experience developing and strong understanding of budget and cost proposal submissions, and personnel and staffing requirements for USAID, OFDA, EU (ECHO and DEVCO) and other institutional donor proposals.
Strong representation and relationship-building skills including professional representation (e.g. donors, partner agencies, host governments, etc.)
Strong negotiation skills and experience developing multiple-partnership arrangements for proposal development.
Ability to lead teams, handle negotiations and facilitate planning processes.
Ability to work effectively under tight deadlines and in sparse working environments.
Exceptional written and interpersonal communication skills an absolute must.
Native-level spoken and written English
Success Factors
The Regional Program Development Specialist will demonstrate a winning track record in program development, and bring flexibility, creativity, and enthusiasm to every project they undertake. The individual must have exceptional writing skills and the ability to multi-task, set priorities, pay attention to detail, and work under tight deadlines within complex team environments. S/he will have a love of writing, strong interpersonal skills, and a healthy competitive spirit, and will take a lead role in building and maintaining external relationships as well as demonstrating the drive and initiative to contribute to internal team efforts. Being aware and sensitive to international development issues and diverse cultures is critical.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

This position can be located in East Africa or London, UK. The position requires travel at least 40% time to the field where living conditions may be exceptionally rugged or be in volatile environments where security protocols will need to be followed. Team members must be ready to deploy to field environments on short notice in response to any emergency or crisis. When in the field the team member must able to work in remote settings, over weekends and/or evening as required by the schedule, and in settings with limited infrastructure, food options, and living conditions.

Mercy Corps Team members represent the agency both during and outside of work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit/temporary assignment to a field posting. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws and customs, and adhere to MC’s policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.


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