Program Advisor :Markets Systems Development - Yumbe, Uganda

Programming Yumbe, Uganda


*This is a short role that runs up to end January 

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 has been operating in Uganda since 2006 and works to catalyze change makers within the Ugandan private sector, civil society and government to create economically dynamic, healthy and secure communities. Our works focus on building resilience and enable economic growth, improve opportunities to attain better health and nutrition, and improved governance and conflict management. We implement programs in the districts of Pader, Kitgum, Gulu, Agago, and Lamwo in Acholi and entire Karamoja as well as eastern Uganda with funding from USAID, USDA, Walmart Foundation, SDC, DFID as well as other private donations. Mercy Corps’ programs in Acholi sub region currently focus on market development, agriculture, financial services, and women’s empowerment.

Mercy Corps has been working in the South Sudanese refugee settlements of West Nile, Northern Uganda since late 2016 where over 1 million South Sudanese have settled over the past few years. We focus on the continuum from cash transfer programming to livelihoods to market systems development to financial inclusion.

General Position Summary

The MSD advisor will provide leadership and strategic vision to the implementation of a project focused on expansion of piloting a Market Systems Development (MSD) approach in refugee response in West Nile refugee settlements. The Market Development Advisor position holder will work to enhance project’s ability to deliver high impact MSD programming; development and refinement of MSD interventions, tools and resources with a particular focus on preparing for future program interventions and program design; and the empowerment of team members to implement and design for new pilot MSD interventions in Humanitarian settings.  The position will also focus on analyzing the success of MSD approach in a humanitarian setting building on the BRIDGE program interventions, and will develop recommendations on how to effectively implement MSD programming in humanitarian settings in the future.

Uganda has a unique opportunity to operationalize the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and this project will contribute to this global discussion,

We are looking for someone with an MSD background, with familiarity with humanitarian and development nexus conversations, and has experience with developing strong evidence-based analysis, recommendations and communication materials to inform future program interventions.  Strong program development experience is also essential.

Essential Job Responsibilities

Staff and Program Management

  • Oversight of all assigned district level teams, coordinate and implement district level MSD activities in line with approved project proposal, budget and within the agreed time frames.
  • Ensure compliance to all Mercy Corps, Donor and Government of Uganda policies, procedures and guidelines that relate to the implementation of the program with limited supervision.
  • Ensure project deadlines, quality standards and targets are met, redesigning deadlines, quality standards and targets as needed.
  • Make on-site field visits regularly to provide technical back stopping and/or design recommendations.
  • Support with report writing, both internal and external to the donor, with a high level of quality with limited need for revision.
  • Lead the coordination, management and motivation of the MSD team through ensuring that they have clear objectives/individual work plans as part of performance management and receive constructive feedback on their performance. Ensure work plans are designed collectively with staff and other key stakeholders.
  • Promote accountability, communicate expectations and provide constructive feedback informally and formally
  • Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence.
Technical Advice
  • Provide MSD advisory services to provide technical oversight and direction on MSD for all program activities in collaboration with the Program Managers.
  • Develop tools and resources to assist with MSD data analysis, program design, pilot activity implementation and M&E, including but not limited to:
  • Ensure related interventions and activities follow the MSD philosophy
  • Provide training and information, as needed, on how sectors, interventions the strategies can more fully embody the MSD philosophy
  • Provide guidance from previous MSD program implementation experience
  • Advise team in field activities that may include conducting light due-diligence on potential partners.
  • Identify capacity gaps of potential private sector actors, designing and implementing most feasible capacity building activities based on identified gaps; and providing continuous support and oversee activities of the private sector partners.
Program quality
  • Take leadership in identifying and addressing program quality needs.
  • Participate as an active, integrated member of the team providing technical support to a portfolio of market systems development programs in the field.
  • Support an increased focus on gender in market systems development programs
  • Support teams to manage MSD programs adaptively, through periodic reflection exercises and supporting use of M&E data
  • Play an active part of the MSD community of practice in MC Uganda, assist with establishing this and facilitating learning exchanges between programs with other MC Uganda MSD advisors
  • Build effective relationships with program teams implementing MSD programs, based on mutual trust, collaboration, urgency and curiosity
  • Assist team members with information, tools and resources to improve performance & reach objectives.

Learning, Dissemination and Program Design:

  • Lead the development of strong analysis and learning documents on BRIDGE program MSD approach in Humanitarian Setting, including recommendations on future MSD interventions in West Nile to support MC strategic priorities and the CRRF.
  • Lead and/or participate (as relevant) in program design for MSD programs in West Nile, in consultation with MC team and local stakeholders, including quick assessments, design workshops, logframe development, budget development, proposal writing.
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.

Ethics and Integrity

  • All Mercy Corps staff member are expected to behave ethically and demonstrate highest integrity in their professional and personal life. Mercy Corps has zero tolerance to any form of fraud, corruption, abuse, harassment or exploitation. Any breach of our policies or misconduct will lead to disciplinary action or may lead to termination.

Supervisory Responsibility

The position has supervisory responsibility over 1 senior program officer, 3 program officers and 3 program assistants.  


Reports Directly To: Program Manager

Works Directly With: Program team, finance operations and subgrant team.

Knowledge and Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree required. M.A, M.S., M.Sc., or equivalent in a field related to economics, international development, business management or subject with relevance for market systems development are preferred.
  • Participation in MSD training is strongly preferred, for example the two-week Springfield training.
  • 5 to 7 years of practical experience working on market systems development programming, that includes:
  • Undertaking market assessments and writing market assessment reports
  • Participating in the design of MSD programs and supporting proposal development
  • Providing training for team members on MSD theory and practice
  • Supporting development of robust results measurement systems, measuring impact on beneficiaries and system change
  • Demonstrating strong theoretical and applied knowledge of the field of expertise.
  • Practical field experience, typically over the course of 2 years, that includes:
  • A combination of successful temporary duration field assignments, longer-term field assignments, and/or living in a field location for an extended period to work in a country or field office.
  • A number of emergency response assignments or other crisis response work that demonstrates the ability to successfully adapt support and assistance methodologies to real-world complexities.
  • Proven track record in adaptive management in fast-paced, entrepreneurial work environment required.
  • History of working effectively and respectfully with host country government, private sector, INGO and NGO partners in complex environments.
  • Strong writing, communication, organization, prioritization and negotiating skills.
  • Excellent (English) verbal and written communication skills with a full knowledge of office applications.
  • Strong computer literacy with a full knowledge of office applications.
  • Willingness to spend to live in a remote location.

Success Factors

  • A strong team player, with good communication, diplomatic and negotiation skills.
  • Proven ability to work independently as part of a regional team and with international professionals.
  • Excellent analytical and information management skills.
  • Good organizational skills and ability to work under stress and in austere contexts of remote locations.
  • Flexible and creative in planning and problem solving.
  • Attention to detail, ability to follow procedures and meet deadlines and work independently and cooperatively with team members.
  • Proven excellence maintaining professional internal and external relationships.
  • A focus on building staff capacity.

Living conditions

This position is based in Yumbe town. Yumbe is the capital of Yumbe District, with a relatively stable security situation and basic amenities. Yumbe has limited health services and no international schools. Yumbe is small with a number of INGOs and expatriate staff based in the town. Water and electricity are generally available with frequent outages. The position requires frequent travel to field sites where one will encounter more basic living conditions. Mercy Corps has a large, well equipped field office in Yumbe. The field location is ineligible for family members.

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