Consultant - Sprout Platform Product Development Consultant

Programs Africa - Various Locations, Kenya


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 SmallHolder Farmers (SHF) live in Sub Saharan Africa, over half of whom are women.Smallholders, 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 Sprout Platform Product Consultant will support the ongoing development of the Sprout Platform by enhancing its usability and manageability, leading content expansion and platform offerings, designing and developing the Dynamic Marketplace and Digital Advisory Services MVP, and aiding in business development and stakeholder engagement.
Consultant Activities:
The Consultant will: 
  • Lead in identifying, product designing, and integrating features to the Sprout Platform to enhance usability and manageability.
  • Support the Sprout CTO in expanding and scaling the Sprout chatbot.
  • Take an active lead and support internal and external stakeholders in the Sprout Platform’s Product Management and Evolution.
  • Continuously update the fundraising strategy and lead fundraising for Sprout by identifying funding opportunities.
  • Lead the Sprout Consultants in implementing CGIAR -Ukama Ustawi: Diversification for
  • Resilient Agrifood Systems in East and Southern Africa Program
  • Develop and manage partnerships with key content partners and agriculture government entities.
  • Lead in updating of the business plan and strategy for Sprout content expansion into existing and new markets.
  • Support the marketing strategy and business development activities.
  • Engage with partners to identify potential funding opportunities for the Sprout Platform.
  • Support Sprout Content Expansion into existing and new markets.
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:
  • Lead in identifying and integrating features to Sprout to make it more easily usable and manageable including enhancement of the web interface.
  • Lead the implementation of a co-designed project with the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture for the Acquisition and Transformation of Top Priority Agriculture Value Chains for FFOs and Farmers
  • Lead in the maintenance of meeting minutes, log of website updates, and stakeholder requests from Sprout Platform.
  • Develop partnerships with content partners – Stakeholder-building relationships with Agriculture Govt Entities for content review and strategic partnerships.
  • Develop a structured survey tool and feedback loop with Sprout partners – Farmer Facing Organizations (FF0s) - to gather and track insights on the usefulness of existing and new learning content and services for their farmers.
  • Assess Sprout Data Provision Platform to determine its current usability with FFOs and what is needed for FFOs to make access to content and services easier to use and integrate with their existing systems. Provide a report that includes the assessment process, data used, and recommended roadmap for the Sprouts data provision platform.
  • Lead the implementation of a co-designed project with the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture for the Acquisition and Transformation of Top Priority Agriculture Value Chains for FFOs and Farmers. recruit and interview local FFOs (up to 5), acquire up-to-date content based on FFO and Zambian Government priorities (up to 10 value chains), transform and validate up to 10 value chains into farmer-friendly
  • Support the business development lead in generating leads, presentations, negotiations, closing deals, and acquiring new partnerships.
  • Support the Strategy development for Static Content Evolution for Sprout – based on partner needs and strategic opportunities, lead its implementation, and support the expansion of Static Content Availability/Depth into new countries and value chains.
  • Update the fundraising Strategy, lead its implementation, and support ongoing fundraising activities for Sprout.
  • Design, implement, and recruit service Partners for Sprout Dynamic Marketplace and Digital Advisory Services MVP
  • Provide periodic updates on the Sprout Platform Roadmap in partnership with the DCSA Director, Sprout CTO, and BD teams.
  • Update Sprout Content Strategy for Static Content Evolution for Sprout – based on partner needs and strategic opportunities.
  • Support marketing strategy and planning with marketing team and Marketing Consultant
  • Support in the scaling of Digital Weather Advisory Services in MVP, including fielding market research to better understand farmer needs and developing pricing.
  • Design work plan and project design for identified Sprout services, which includes various stages including fully released, MVP, and experiment stages that will be integrated into the Sprout Platform.
  • Analyze and update the documentation of the partnership process to determine the next Sprout services with key partners. 
Timeframe / Schedule: 
The time frame will be between June 17, 2024 -  Oct 31, 2024.
The Consultant will report to:
Agrifin DCSA Director and Sprout Lead
The Consultant will work closely with:
The Agrifin Technical team
Required Experience & Skills:
  • Bachelor’s degree in marketing, computer sciences, sciences, or a similar area
  • MBA or Master of Sciences is highly preferable 
  • About five years of proven sales experience in business or a related area
  • Exceptional communication and presentation skills, both written and verbal, in order to express technical and nontechnical concepts clearly and concisely.
  • Experience designing and developing products for open data portals
  • Experience working with CKAN and DKAN open-source data portal platforms
  • Experience working with WhatsApp for Business services, and previous experience working with Turn.Io a highly preferable
  • Experience working remotely with a distributed team across time zones
  • Experience designing content taxonomies and implementing these as schemas in knowledge management systems Experience in implementing and working with WordPress
  • Previous experience working with MC AgriFin, and their network of 150 partners highly preferred
  • Previous experience supporting partners integrate, port, and leverage the Sprout Platform and the Sprout Learning services
  • 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.