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Consultant - Chief Technology Officer

Mercy Corps

Management & Business Development

KES Confidential
2 weeks ago

Job Summary

 

Job Description/Requirements

Description

Background: 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. Agrifin Program Context: Nearly one and a half billion poor people live on less than US$1.25 a day. One billion of them live in rural areas where agriculture is their main source of livelihood. An estimated 70 million Small Holder Farmers (SHF) live in Sub Saharan Africa, over half of whom are women. Small holders, who typically farm two hectares or less, provide over 80% of the food consumed in a large part of the developing world, contributing significantly to poverty reduction and food security. However, increasing fragmentation of landholdings, especially in infrastructure, coupled with reduced investment support, growing competition for land and water, rising input prices and climate change threaten this contribution, leaving many smallholders increasingly vulnerable.Mobile phones are a powerful tool to access the electronic national retail payments system and enable vast numbers of clients to use a range of financial and informational services at lower cost. In agriculture, progressively more services are being delivered via mobile phone. Applications now deliver direct specific, timely information on agricultural production methods to farmers through their mobile phones. Moving beyond one-to-one communication, there are internet- and SMS-based services that allow farmers to access inputs; access price information on different crops and provide a platform for smallholders to collectively sell crops and buy inputs, thereby lowering costs and accessing new markets. Launched in 2012, Mercy Corps AgriFin’s primary target group is unbanked smallholder farmers living on less than USD 2 per day. Mobilizing a vast network of partners, AgriFin ensures that the needs of farmers inform the design of partner products and services. Our shared global context is challenging – climate variability and population growth present unprecedented challenges. Yet, our experience tells us that farmers are determined to beat the odds. Sprout and CGIAR Context: Sprout, a project of Mercy Corps AgriFin, envisions a future where every small-scale farmer in Africa has access to farmer-friendly, expert validated agricultural information and knowledge on best practices and personalized services in the palm of their hands, helping them to make informed decisions, adapt to climate change, improve their productivity, and their livelihoods. Sprout’s approach and software platform leverages the emergence of key agriculture value chain actors - Farmer Facing Organizations (FFOs) and their digital platforms, farmer data and reach - as a scale pathway to enable FFOs to transform their SSFs’ access to decision support information, best practices, and personalized services.Sprout is a member of EiA’s 2022 Cohort. Excellence in Agronomy (EiA), a program of CGIAR, aims to deliver an increase in productivity and quality per unit of input (agronomic gain) for millions of smallholder farming households in prioritized farming systems by 2030, with an emphasis on women and young farmers, showing a measurable impact on food and nutrition security, income, resource use, soil health, climate resilience and climate change mitigation. Jointly, Sprout and EiA have 7 developed deep content datasets and a new MVP Hyper Local Seasonal Forecast weather service for Nigerian FFOs and SHFs in Q1-3 2023. The project seeks to address critical gaps in agricultural knowledge dissemination and support services for smallholder farmers in Kenya, Nigeria, and Zambia. With a focus on enhancing collaboration between Farmer Facing Organizations (FFOs), CGIAR Ukama Ustawi, and government agencies, the project aims to co-create tailored solutions that meet the evolving needs of farmers and FFOs. Through structured surveys, platform assessments, and partnership initiatives, the project will gather insights, assess existing platforms, and co-design interventions to improve access to relevant agricultural content and services. By leveraging local expertise and stakeholder engagement, the project aims to empower smallholder farmers with the knowledge and resources needed to enhance productivity, resilience, and sustainability in agriculture. Purpose / Project Description: The consultant will support the fulfillment of the objectives, activities and deliverables below in close collaboration with the DCSA Director and Sprout Lead. Consultant Objectives: The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Consultant will support the ongoing development of the Sprout Platform working with an internal and external team of developers to implement the Dynamic Marketplace and Digital Advisory Services MVP. Consultant Activities: The CTO will take an active lead in both designing and leading in the implementation of the identified features for the next phase of the Sprout Platform with the Mercy Corps AgriFin team and external partners. The CTO will lead the project team on the Sprout Platform advisory and marketplace services MVP. These services will be built upon the existing platform, capabilities and offer: Platform content /services organizations the ability to connect to the Sprout platform and directly reach farmer facing organizations and their millions of users in a uniform way Content/service users (farmer facing organizations) who connect into the platform to have the ability for their respective farmer to have access advisory information and services based on the data that farmer facing organizations have about their farmers (i.e. GPS coordinates, plot size, primary and secondary commodities, etc. ) in a uniform way The CTO will be responsible for identifying the technical approach and implementing the MVP with content providers, service providers and farmer-facing organizations.The CTO will also work with the following sets and types of organizations, but this is not a complete list of partners: Content creators (KALRO, AGRA, Ethiopian ATA, Ministries of Agriculture, Research Institutes, CIP, and many others.) Content/Service Providers (CIAT, CGIAR, CYMMT, Ignitia, aWhere, PlantVillage, Tomorrow.io, and many others)  Content users (One Acre, Pula, KALRO, Digifarm, Mshamba, FSPN, CoAmana, and many others) Digitally enabled farmers. The CTO will: Engage and meet with partners to further define and understand use cases, prerequisites, and capabilities to design the requirements for the platform.  Provide recommended specifications around the technology architecture for the pilot MVP delivery, as well as recommendations for its future development. Identify potential solution providers and/or technical design partner or skills required for implementation Assist partners utilize and integrate Sprout Content and services into the their respective platforms. Implement an MVP for the smart farming advisory and guidance around product parameters and support testing the newly designed features. Lead in implementation of a structured survey tool and feedback loop with Sprout partners – Farmer Facing Organizations (FFOs) - to gather track insights and ensure CIAT can access these insights. Evaluate the Sprout Data Provision Platform's usability for FFOs and develop recommendations for improvements in the platform to improve content access, integration, and decision support tools for FFOs and SSFs Support the ideation of the next phase development of Sprout as well as the longer-term product roadmap for the facility as an AgriFin initiative moving forward. Support the AgriFin team and external partners implement both the short-term project strategy and longer-term growth strategy for the Sprout Platform to evolve toward a global open access platform. Support the AgriFin team an MVP for the smart farming advisory and Sprout marketplace into new geographies Support the AgriFin and partners develop new use cases for sprout. Based on the inputs from stakeholders, design new MVPs and work with partners to implement agreed upon MVPs. Consultant Activities: The CTO will: Support Sprout Platform Manage platform infrastructure report and troubleshooting issues. Support/lead definition new features and functionally to be developed. Support the Sprout Digital Weather Services MVP & Chatbot Co-develop product features with product and content teams for Deliver MVPs Engage with FFO users to gain feedback and evolve feature functionality. Develop engineering requirements, hire, train resources to build out MVP platform to specification. Lead development of the platforms. Update the Chatbot Infrastructure Strategy. Support the AgriFin team and External partners Support Agrifin team as well as external partners in putting the project's short- and long-term growth strategies into action. Assist AgriFin and collaborators in creating fresh applications for Sprout. Along with the facility's longer-term product strategy, support the development of this facility's next phase of development. Consultant Deliverables: The consultant will work to produce updates on the deliverables below alongside regular progress reports and activity time logs, in close collaboration with the Digital Climate-Smart Agriculture and Sprout Platform Lead: Support Sprout Platform Manage platform infrastructure report and troubleshooting issues. Support/lead definition new features and functionally to be developed. Support the Sprout Digital Weather Services MVP & Chatbot Co-develop product features with product and content teams for Deliver MVPs Engage with FFO users to gain feedback and evolve feature functionality. Develop engineering requirements, hire, train resources to build out MVP platform to specification. Lead development of the platforms. Update the Chatbot Infrastructure Strategy. Support the AgriFin team and External partners Support Agrifin team as well as external partners in putting the project's short- and long-term growth strategies into action. Assist AgriFin and collaborators in creating fresh applications for Sprout. Along with the facility's longer-term product strategy, support the development of this facility's next phase of development.  Timeframe / Schedule: The time frame will be between June 17, 2024 - Oct 31, 2024. The Consultant will report to: AgriFin Sprout engagement and DCSA lead The Consultant will work closely with: The Agrifin Technical team Required Experience & Skills: 10 years’ experience in system architect roles in medium to large customer environments  Experience managing small development teams across different programming disciplines including cloud, mobile, IoT, and AI Experience establishing technology operations and developing technology standards across multiple project teams Ability and experience steering multiple software products and teams simultaneously  Experience in, and knowledge of, complex architectural customer, business, applications and, where appropriate, Infrastructure environments.  Experience designing and implementing SMS and WhatsApp for Business platforms, Chatbots and other computer programs that simulate human conversation through voice commends or text chats. Required deep knowledge of architect processes tools and offering and ability to translate customer requirement into Sprout Platform and services  Experience designing and building technology solutions for emerging markets Must be passionate about modern technologies and effectively using them for creating innovative digital solutions Proven experience in tech design for Developing markets Experience developing Platforms/APIs  Prior experience with Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN) and/or other open data and knowledge portals highly preferred Able to manage team and clients remotely Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives. We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today. Equal Employment Opportunity We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work. Safeguarding & Ethics Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our stakeholders and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC's policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.

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