This is an interim backfill role to cover for an employee who will be out on parental leave. The duration of the assignment is targeted for 9 months starting in May. However, the start and end dates may change.

Interim Senior Program Officer, Financial Services for the Poor

The Global Growth & Opportunity (GGO) division works to catalyze sustainable transformative change in the face of inequities and market failures, to realize the potential of untapped markets, and to see the economic and social benefits of including everyone. We focus on the areas of Agricultural Development; Financial Services for the Poor; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; and Gender Equality. We seek solutions that are sustainable, transformative, and inclusive with an eye toward applying technology innovations as well as data evidence to drive change in the world’s developing countries.

The Financial Services for the Poor (FSP) team is focused on helping people in the world’s poorest regions improve their lives and build sustainable futures by connecting them with digitally-based financial tools and services. In just the past seven years, 700 million people worldwide have gained access to bank and mobile money accounts. This revolution in financial inclusion has the potential to offer a pathway out of poverty for millions of people, and to spur broad economic growth. Digital technology and changes in national policy are clearing away obstacles that once kept these services out of reach for many, but many more tough challenges remain.

The FSP team’s strategy for financial inclusion is to help create enabling environment and systems which can be leveraged by private and public sector providers in serving the needs of the poor. To encourage sustainable innovation and lower costs, we advocate for the development of an enabling regulatory environment (e.g., tailored licenses for new players) and the building of pro-poor shared infrastructure (e.g., payment interoperability platforms, digital identity systems). Our strategy is predicated on the belief that once an enabling regulations and infrastructure exists – both private and public players will find it financially viable and attractive to provide access to and drive usage of digital financial services for the poor.

Position Summary & Responsibilities

The goal of this role is to enable an inclusive financial services ecosystem that provides low-income households with appropriate and accessible financial products. You will also be encouraged to develop and handle a portfolio of grants and related interventions, while partnering closely with a wide variety of players.

The SPO’s key area of work will include:

  • Accelerating digitization of government payments for financial inclusion (FI) and women’s economic empowerment (WEE): While governments globally are now prioritizing digitization of their payments to people (e.g. social security, subsidy payments etc.), implementation efforts are often sub-optimal and focused on efficiency gains rather than being designed for furthering financial inclusion and/or women’s economic empowerment. A key focus for this role will be to help establish global standards for digitizing government payments and enable their adoption by governments and other key implementation partners. In this effort, you will be collaborating with global development partners (e.g. the World Bank, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor [CGAP], Better Than Cash Alliance [BTCA], etc.) and various in-country government policy makers and program implementers.
  • Motivating private sector action for deepening digital payments usage by low-income households: Specifically, you will work with the International Labor Organization and other key stakeholders to advance responsible digitization of wages, particularly in industries whose workforce is predominantly women. You will also explore other opportunities to motivate and support better financial service access and usage. In this effort, you will engage with a range of private sector players – including both financial (e.g. banks, payment service banks, micro finance institutions, telecoms, etc.), and non-financial players (e.g. large technology platforms, dynamic consumer goods companies, garment factories etc.).
  • Build out FSP’s usage strategy in key opportunity areas: You will support ongoing efforts to digitize health worker payments and identify opportunities for greater engagement in agri-value chains. For these activities, you will closely collaborate with other teams across the foundation (e.g. Agriculture Development and teams within the Global Health division).
  • In all these efforts, you are expected to collaborate with FSP country program officers in evaluating market failures/gaps and in the development and implementation of new solutions/strategies for driving increased usage in our focus markets, which are: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Given the global nature of the role, your grant portfolio will also include projects with activities in other geographies, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

Leadership & Culture

We believe that energized people, working well together, fueled by phenomenal leadership in an inclusive environment in which they thrive, will do extraordinary things.

Core Knowledge & Skills:

We are looking for people who enjoy the opportunity of working on sophisticated problems and collectively building solutions that have the potential for transformative change in the lives of people around the world. We seek a creative and curious leader who has a strong track record of achievement and leadership in roles of growing responsibility. You should be prepared to work across a diverse set of subject areas, bridging a wide range of expertise all the while being a teammate, with a proven ability to work with flexibility, efficiency and tact in an exciting, ambitious environment. Additionally, we seek:

  • 10+ years of DFS/Financial Inclusion practitioner experience - on the ground, consumer product and service provider experience – in focus countries or other emerging markets.
  • Preference for a mix of professional experience, such as private sector, public sector, non-profit, academic, or others that are relevant for global development and financial inclusion.
  • Strong critical thinking and analytical skillset with a confirmed ability for driving strategic changes in large organizations. Ability to question and challenge colleagues, including managers, in a constructive manner.
  • Experience in engaging with and influencing senior leadership at a variety of organizations.
  • Shown skillset in inspiring trust across institutions, relationship building and collaboration.
  • Compassion for people living in poverty, particularly women, and their financial needs and constraints. Preference for candidates who have spent significant time interacting directly with populations like these.
  • Excellent communication skills, ideally with experience communicating to diverse audiences globally.
  • Experience guiding and leading large and sophisticated projects, including working with a diverse range of partners (e.g. local NGOs, multilaterals, research institutions, and others).
  • Ability to travel up to 30% of time; both domestically and internationally.
  • A minimum of a bachelor’s degree; preference for an advanced degree.
  • Must be able to legally work in the country where this position is located without visa sponsorship.

The employee transfer policy applies to internal backfill positions. An employee may apply for an open position after at least 12 months in their current position. If you meet this requirement and wish to pursue a backfill opportunity, you are required to have a conversation with your manager to confirm their support before you apply. In rare cases, the requirement of a minimum of 12 months in a position may be waived if a transfer is critical to the foundation’s goals and is approved by the current manager and their HR Consultant (HR Business Partner or Generalist).

All backfill positions are posted as LTE roles. With current manager support, if selected for the role, FTEs will retain their FTE status during the backfill assignment. Managers will have the option of backfilling for the individual moving to the interim position for a similar duration via the same hiring channels and options as this position. However, current managers may be unwilling or unable to hold headcount for the duration of an interim assignment and may deny the employee’s request. In such cases, the employee may apply for the open LTE position, but if selected, would effectively be resigning as an FTE and would be hired as an LTE for the duration of the interim assignment. As an LTE, employment with the foundation is expected to end at the end of the assignment, and the employee would not be eligible for severance.

As part of our standard hiring process for new employees, employment with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be contingent upon successful completion of a background check.

To Apply

Please visit the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation careers website.