Country Director - Uganda

Programs Kampala, Uganda


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 present in Uganda since 2006, focusing its interventions on economic and agricultural development, maternal child health and nutrition, governance, conflict management and humanitarian response. With funding from USAID, DFID, GIZ, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and private foundations including Mastercard,  Mercy Corps has been able to work together with communities in Uganda to drive transformative change in the communities where we work, with a particular focus on addressing the needs of youth, refugees and adolescent girls.  In 2018, Mercy Corps reached almost 1 million participants in Uganda through our work to build resilience and enable economic growth, improve health and nutrition, and strengthen governance and conflict management. Innovation is at the core of Mercy Corps’ work in Uganda, and we look to accelerate innovative solutions to meet the challenges Ugandans face, through a focus on job creation, financial services access, and durable solutions to the needs of refugees.

General Position Summary

The Mercy Corps Uganda Country Director is an innovative and visionary leader responsible for resourcefully managing all programming in Uganda. Looking to build on interventions that have already achieved lasting improvement in the lives of more than 930,000 Ugandans, s/he will continue to build a high-performing portfolio of transformative, multi-sectoral programming that is accountable to both program participants and donors. Placing a high value on innovative solutions to complex development challenges and creative partnerships, s/he pursues funding opportunities and builds partnerships that strategically connect programs into a cohesive country portfolio, guided by a long-term strategy. With an overall budget of approximately $70 million, the Country Director has full supervisory responsibility for the country team. This is an exciting opportunity to influence key outcomes and make a lasting difference in the lives of Ugandans.

Essential Job Responsibilities

Strategy & Vision
  • Communicate a clear and compelling vision of present and future program goals and strategies to team members and external stakeholders that translates into concrete programs and work plans.
  • Set direction by prioritizing and organizing actions & resources to achieve objectives and maximize impact.
  • Lead the annual country planning process and provide strategic updates on notable achievements.
  • Work collaboratively with headquarters and regional technical support teams to access technical and operational support for program design and implementation.
  • Recognize opportunities for innovative action and create an environment where entrepreneurial thinking and alternative viewpoints are welcome. Remain current with key Mercy Corps’ key approaches, including resilience in fragile contexts, market systems development, cash-based programming, youth employment, systems thinking, etc.
Team Management
  • Recruit and lead an efficient, capable and high-performing team, with a particular emphasis on developing and promoting national talent.
  • Develop the capacity of the team, deepen understanding of their roles and assist with career development.
  • Assist team members with information, tools and resources to improve performance and reach objectives.
  • Promote accountability, communicate expectations and provide constructive feedback informally and formally via regular one-on-ones and performance reviews.
  • Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence.
  • Contribute to country team-building efforts, help team members identify problem-solving options and ensure the integration of all team members into relevant decision-making processes.
Program Operations Management
  • Apply Mercy Corps’ M&E principles and framework to programs and ensure the country’s overall strategy includes effective, timely reporting systems for all donors.
  • Ensure effective, transparent use of resources in compliance with Mercy Corps and donor policies/procedures.
  • Oversee budget management of sub-grantees/sub-contractors, if applicable.
  • Build and maintain operational systems that ensure proper administrative support for programs, as well as segregation of duties between finance and operations.
  • Fulfill Mercy Corps’ Program Management Minimum Standards (PM@MC) based on the organization-wide guide.
  • Ensure all interventions adhere to Mercy Corps’ Gender Policy, Do No Harm principles, and beneficiary accountability standards, including efficient CARM and safeguarding mechanisms across all programs.
  • Support country teams to improve data collection, management, and use to build a culture of adaptive management, high-quality program performance, and learning.
Finance & Compliance Management
  • Coordinate overall country budget; manage budget within approved spending levels and establish an annual cash flow plan to ensure a steady and adequate supply of funds for program activities.
  • Build and maintain operational structures that ensure proper segregation of duties between finance, administration and logistics and fully support field programs.
  • Build and maintain an environment of collaboration among program, finance, operations and human resource team members resulting in optimal support for program activities.
  • Ensure program implementation is on time, on target and on budget, using effective M&E systems to reach desired impacts.
  • Create and maintain systems ensuring effective and transparent use of financial resources for timely and informative reporting in line with donor and Mercy Corps policies and procedures.
  • Ensure compliance with donor and Mercy Corps regulations related to programming.
  • Work with auditors to facilitate their work and then work with the country team to make changes based on their findings and recommendations.
Influence & Representation
  • Maintain productive relationships with internal and external stakeholders, such as peer organizations, private partners, national and local governments, local NGOs, etc.
  • Participate in coordination groups in country and contribute to shaping the donor’s views on development priorities.
  • Develop innovative funding proposals that further Mercy Corps’ strategic objectives within the country.
  • Represent Mercy Corps programs with national and international media and participate in community activities as appropriate.
  • Demonstrate flexibility, resilience and ability to maintain positive relationships and composure.
  • Maintain high ethical standards and treat people with respect and dignity.
  • Liaise with the Director of Global Security, Deputy Regional Director, and Africa Security Advisor on crucial events, high-risk periods, and incident reporting and security policy changes.
  • Manage security and safety of the entire country team and Mercy Corps assets according to best practices, MC operating standards and field realities.
  • Ensure the safety and security of staff members through regular review and adaptation of security protocols and procedures including the country security plan.
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.
  • Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts towards accountability, specifically to our program participants and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging participant communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.

Supervisory Responsibility:
5 direct reports (Director of Programs, Chief of Party - Apolou, Operations Director, Finance Director, Sr. Human Resource and Legal Manager) and 200 indirect staff.


Reports Directly To: Deputy Regional Director

Works Directly With:, HQ-based Program, Operations, Finance, Compliance, Fundraising and Technical Support Unit; Uganda leadership and program team, as well as staff involved in multi-country and complex programming.

Knowledge and Experience

  • BA/S or equivalent in relevant field required; MA/S preferred.
  • 7-10 years of field experience in international relief and development programs, including demonstrable success in managing (large, complex, transitional) development programs.
  • 5 years of senior-level leadership, capacity building and field management experience.
  • Demonstrated success managing and bringing together a multi cultural team with team members in multiple offices.
  • Successful and proven negotiation, communication and organization skills.
  • Demonstrated experience developing a compelling strategic vision and success in securing funding for country programs.
  • Demonstrated success working effectively and respectfully with host country government, private sector, INGO, NGO partners and other stakeholders in complex environments.
  • Proven skills in financial and grants management; prior experience with USAID, DFID, EC and other donors.
  • Internationally recognized qualification in project or program management or a commitment to obtain the qualification in the early months of work.
  • Excellent oral and written English skills required.
  • Ability to work effectively with an ethnically diverse team in a sensitive environment.
  • Previous work experience in countries where travel to insecure areas is required and management of programs in insecure locations.
  • Experience working on emergency and disaster response as appropriate.

Success Factors

The successful Uganda Country Director will articulate a fresh and compelling vision for Mercy Corps in Uganda and skillfully represent programmatic priorities of the agency to donors and regional partners while providing effective leadership to the Mercy Corps program team. S/he will have high emotional intelligence, constructive mentoring skills and proven experience with capacity building and will be committed to long-term program sustainability and the delivery of high-impact activities at the community level. The role is a hands-on position and success will be determined by the level of direct engagement in program development, oversight of projects, fundraising for new projects and representing the agency to stakeholders. The successful Country Director should welcome multi-tasking and taking an active role in program design and overarching strategy. Successful Mercy Corps team members have a strong commitment to teamwork and accountability, thrive in evolving and challenging environments, and make effective written and verbal communication a priority.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

The Country Director is based in the capital city Kampala. The location is accompanied and secure. Housing is family accommodation with unlimited freedom of movement beyond the house/office. There are several international schools in Uganda. Staff have a high degree of access to services (medical, electricity, water, etc). This position requires 35% travel by road and air to field offices.

Mercy Corps team members represent the agency both during and outside work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit or short term assignment 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.