Director - Markets in Crisis (Durable Solutions)

Programming Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


**This position is contingent on the funding and approval of all key personnel**

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.

Mercy Corps has been operating in Ethiopia since 2004, working in rural, peri-urban and urban areas in five regional states - Somali, Oromia, Afar, Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples, Amhara - and the capital city of Addis Ababa. We engage in both development and humanitarian work, and seek to integrate approaches, programs and geographies as much as possible.  Our partners include government, academic institutions, development and private sector actors, civil societies and communities.

Mercy Corps and market systems development in refugee contexts

Mercy Corps is committed to supporting the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) to address the challenge posed by the large number of refugees in the country. Ethiopia has the second largest refugee population in Africa, second only to Uganda. The scale of the refugee numbers, and the long-term nature of the challenge, requires new thinking and innovative solutions. This has been recognized by the GoE through its support for the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and the approval of the Revised Refugee Proclamation in January 2019. The Refugee Proclamation includes ‘Nine Pledges’ that ultimately aim to create productive and self-reliant citizens among refugees and host communities. To-date, donor and NGO support has focused on delivering crucial life-saving assistance and essential services for refugees in Ethiopia, but there has been little focus on stimulating sustainable economic opportunities for refugees and host communities to find ‘durable solutions’.

Globally, Mercy Corps is a leading practitioner of market systems development (MSD) approaches to poverty reduction, with particular expertise in implementing MSD programs in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. Our Ethiopia country program is implementing some of our most innovative and impactful MSD work. In Ethiopia we are currently implementing 8 programs that are applying MSD principles, to a value of more than $80 million, funded by donors including USAID, DFID and SIDA. Our six-year USAID-funded PRIME program, working in multiple sectors including livestock, financial services and labour markets, is a flagship MSD program for the agency globally.

Mercy Corps is now building a portfolio of programming applying our market systems expertise to refugee and host community contexts, with the objective of finding durable solutions to the protracted refugee crisis in the country. We are currently implementing programming in Dollo Ado (Somali Region), and in the coming months are anticipating expanding this to Jigjiga (Somali Region), Gambella and Afar regions.  

General Position Summary

The Director - Markets in Crisis (Durable Solutions) will have overall responsibility for management of Mercy Corps’ market-based programming in refugee and host community contexts. This is an exciting opportunity to manage a large portfolio of MSD programming, and a unique opportunity to become a leading expert in applying MSD approaches to refugee contexts.

This is largely a new portfolio of programming, so the Director - Markets in Crisis (Durable Solutions) will be responsible for building the program team and spearheading the design of programming from the start. This will include recruiting the program team, leading market assessments and analysis, developing the detailed program design, and leading implementation of interventions.

As a new innovative area of programming, which is also a global priority for Mercy Corps, the portfolio is expected to generate significant learning that will inform similar programs in other countries. The Director - Markets in Crisis (Durable Solutions) will be responsible for ensuring robust M&E, and managing a learning agenda for the programming, through management of a MEL team. The Director will also play a lead role in representing Mercy Corps’ work externally, through building relationships with key donors and participating in relevant coordination and learning events. The Director will also be a member of the Mercy Corps Senior Leadership Team, helping to define and achieve our agency strategy.

Mercy Corps is seeking an experience and entrepreneurial leader with past experience of managing large teams and leading market-based programming.

Essential Job Responsibilities

Strategy and Vision

  • Work closely with the Director of Programs and senior program team members to develop a vision and strategy for applying market systems development approaches to refugee and host community contexts
  • Recognize opportunities for innovative action and create an environment where alternative viewpoints are welcome;

Program Management

  • Lead the conceptualization, implementation and continual improvement of Mercy Corps’ portfolio of programs applying MSD approaches in refugee and host community contexts;
  • In coordination with senior program team members, lead program start-up, management, administration and close-out. Ensure implementation is on time, target and budget.
  • Lead assessments and analysis across all target locations (including needs, markets and conflict), drawing on external technical expertise as needed;
  • In partnership with the Director of Programs and senior program team members, develop detailed program designs based on assessment outcomes;
  • Lead the process of developing partnership frameworks to support program implementation, partner agreements and ensure partner capacity building;
  • Coordinate, manage and motivate program teams across all implementation locations, ensuring they have clear objectives / individual work plans as part of performance management, and receive meaningful feedback on their performance;
  • Mentor senior program team members (program and M&E) reporting directly to this position, ensuring their ability to manage across programs in each of the target geographies. Provide guidance and support for these Managers’ eventual career progression and support their capacity building over time;
  • Ensure that the portfolio of programs is managed adaptively, through periodic reflection exercises and use of MEL data;
  • Submit high quality reports to donors;
  • Work with the program teams to ensure close relationships with key government partners, at all levels;
  • Monitor work and targets closely to ensure that programs are able to provide maximum benefit to our beneficiaries within program timeframes;
  • Work closely with team and partners ensuring we adhere to humanitarian principles, Mercy Corps’ gender policies, Do No Harm principles and beneficiary accountability standards;
  • Integrate community approaches, gender sensitivity and capacity building into all activities;
  • Fulfill Mercy Corps Program Management Minimum Standards based on the organization-wide guide.
  • Cultivate and nurture donor relationships and strategic partnerships that positively impact Mercy Corps ability to influence program strategies and proposal design, as well as strategic partnerships that result in stronger and impactful program development efforts;
  • Help to identify new funding opportunities for MSD programs in refugee and host community contexts;
  • Support the design of new proposals working on market-based approaches in refugee and host-community contexts, including participating in design workshops;
  • Support writing/review of concept notes and proposals;
  • Work closely with field teams to influence their engagement and support of program pre-positioning, development and implementation.

Team Building and Management

  • Lead and manage recruitment and training of all team members working in the portfolio, including on market systems approaches, working closely with Mercy Corps’ Human Resources Department;
  • Oversee the documentation and filing systems for all programs in the portfolio, and ensure that information is organized according to the reporting and auditing needs. Ensure required levels of confidentiality;
  • Work closely with the country team’s security focal point to develop and maintain systems that ensure the safety and security of the team in all aspects of its work;
  • Develop the capacity of the program team, deepen understanding of their roles and assist with career development;
  • Promote accountability, communicate expectations and provide constructive feedback
  • Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence.

Finance and Operations Management

  • Ensure compliance with donor and Mercy Corps’ regulations related to programming and operations.
  • With support of the Operations Manager, ensure adequate operational systems are in place to provide for programs implementation;
  • Ensure proper logistics, administration, human resources and transport needs of the programs are conducted within Mercy Corps policy;
  • Manage program budgets as the primary budget holder;
  • Exercise sound judgment to ensure projects’ expenses are reasonable, allocable and prudent. Ensure all projects’ funds are spent in accordance with donor rules and regulations. Work with Director of Programs to forecast expenditure surpluses and deficits to enable adjustments;
  • Strictly follow Mercy Corps’ Fraud and Prevention guidelines.

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning

  • Recruit, manage and support capacity-building of MEL team members working on the Durable Solutions portfolio;
  • Ensure that program teams are continually gathering and digesting operating environment data and activity reports, and that teams are holding frequent activity review sessions to continually re-examine the relevance and impact of their programming;
  • Coordinate and share information with the Director of Programs to ensure overall project targets and donor obligations are being achieved. Advise on suggested improvements, as required;
  • Working with the MEL team, develop a Learning Agenda for the Durable Solutions portfolio, and support successful execution of learning and impact studies;
  • Ensure program teams have community complaint and feedback mechanisms in place and that complaints and feedback being received are responded to within a timely manner.

Policy, Advocacy, Representation

  • Represent Mercy Corps at academic events, conferences, media forums, and other events; contribute to thought leadership on Durable Solutions in Ethiopia and globally;
  • Identify and nurture strategic partnerships with other organizations and institutions working on durable solutions for refugees;
  • Present concepts and ideas to donors, partners, and peer organizations that influence them to drive innovation and positive change.

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

Program Managers in each target geography; Durable solutions MEL Manager; Senior technical staff working on the durable solutions portfolio.


Reports Directly To: Director of Programs, Mercy Corps Ethiopia

Works Directly With: All program team members working on the durable solutions portfolio; Country-level Finance, Operations and HR Managers; Country MEL Manager

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;
  • At least 10 years’ experience working in international development;
  • At least 5 years’ experience of working on market systems development programming, including:
  • 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.
  • At least 5 years’ of senior-level leadership and team management experience;
  • Practical field experience working in refugee contexts or fragile contexts is preferred;
  • Demonstrated success building, managing and leading a team of professionals in a fast-paced challenging environment with high standards for success (with limited burnout).
  • Strong writing, communication, organization, prioritization and negotiating skills.
  • Excellent coordination and representation experience is needed, especially in building and maintaining strong/productive relations with implementing and strategic partner agencies and government agencies;
  • Excellent MEL, data analytics and quantitative skills are strongly preferred;
  • Strong financial management experience required.
  • Willingness and ability to travel frequently to Mercy Corps project sites and field locations, including traveling to insecure environments, is required;
  • Fluency in English is required.

Success Factors

The successful candidate will possess excellent leadership skills, with the ability to maintain a broad perspective. He/she will undertake innovative approaches, be agile in the conceptualization of new program ideas, and will be well versed in strategic thinking and planning. The ideal candidate will have a strong curiosity for understanding and working effectively within the complex cultural, political, security and social environment of Ethiopia. He/She will be an excellent communicator, multi-tasker, and able to work in ambiguous situations. He/She will be a tolerant and flexible individual able to work in difficult and stressful environments and follow procedures. The successful candidate will be focused on team-building and capacity-building of national staff team-members; be a strategic thinker, have strong skills in design monitoring and evaluation of development programs and maintain a sense of humor.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

The position is based in (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) and it requires up to (40%) travel to field locations.

Mercy Corps team members represent the agency both during and outside work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit/TDY to a field posting. 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.

Fostering a diverse and open workplace is an important part of Mercy Corps’ vision.  Mercy Corps is an Equal Opportunity Employer regardless of background. We are committed to creating an inclusive environment.