Note: Limited Term Employee, 15 months.
Guided by the belief that all lives have equal value, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation pride ourselves in being ‘impatient optimists’ whose purpose is to work to reduce inequity. Our vision is to ensure a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life. We have four missions to:
- Ensure more children and young people survive and thrive;
- Empower the poorest, especially women and girls, to transform their lives;
- Combat infectious diseases that particularly affect the poorest; and
- Inspire people to take action to change the world.
Key to enabling these missions is our commitment to science and innovation, collaboration and partnership, measurement and rigor, as well as optimism and risk-taking. Based in Seattle, the foundation has a worldwide staff of 1,500 people and is led by CEO Mark Suzman, under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates. We have offices in the United States, Europe, India, China and Africa.
The Global Growth & Opportunity (GGO) division works to catalyze sustainable progressive 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, progressive, and inclusive with an eye toward applying technology innovations as well as data evidence to inspire change in the world’s developing countries.
The Financial Services for the Poor (FSP) program strategy team believes that valuable, low-cost financial products have the potential to offer a pathway out of poverty, and that digital financial systems can enable the delivery of such products to the poor by the private sector sustainably and at scale. FSP supports the buildout of inclusive digital financial services (DFS) systems across the developing world by (i) enabling the right policy and regulatory environment, (ii) supporting the implementation of inclusive digital payments systems and digital ID systems, and (iii) driving scale and economic sustainability by promoting pro-poor use cases. In addition to driving financial inclusion across the developing world overall and among the poor population, a core objective is closing the gender gap in the usage of formal financial products.
In partnership with the foundation’s Gender Equality (GE) team, we believe one of the core levers to closing this gender gap and achieving women’s economic empowerment (WEE) is through women’s financial inclusion. Fundamentally, we believe that gender equality is a powerful means to lift poor households out of poverty and to achieve our goals, we must systemically address gender equalities and meet the specific needs of women and girls.
Our hypothesis is that digitizing a predictable income stream for women is a proven way to rapidly close the gender gap in digital financial inclusion, and a potentially powerful platform to catalyze the economic empowerment of women. To target and reach low-income women, we are currently focused on digitizing already-established government-to-person (G2P) social safety net cash transfers. We have developed an approach known as Digitize, Direct, Design (D3): Digitizing social protection programs; Directing payments into women’s accounts; and Designing the program so that they expand women’s economic opportunities. In 2018, we launched work in major social safety net programs in Pakistan (BISP Program), Tanzania (PSSNII) and India (NREGA in Bihar). We plan to learn from this work before we expand to other countries, alongside exploring other potential pathways to drive WEE outcomes through DFS systems, such as the digitization of loan repayments, wage payments, or community-based platforms such as savings groups, self-help groups, producer collectives, etc.
Increasing financial inclusion among women is a major priority for the entire FSP team. The most recent Findex report (2017) was eye-opening for the industry because there was very little appreciable improvement in closing the gender gap. We are hopeful that the upcoming Findex report to be released later this year will show improvement; however, we fully expect that there is a lot more work to do not only to get women access to basic transaction accounts but also to a full range of financial services, and to ensure that the use of those products is creating impact in the form of increased income and improved resilience, among others.
FSP and Initiative 3 (where this role sits) are both at an important crossroad. We are currently designing the next phase of our strategy, which will likely include ‘beyond payments’ (expanding into additional use cases beyond access to basic transaction accounts), ‘beyond access’ (driving usage), and a focus on two sectors: agriculture and micro- and small enterprises. Closing the gender gap will likely become even more central to our strategy.
We seek a Senior Program Officer, Women’s Economic Empowerment & Financial Inclusion (WEE-FI) to backfill the current SPO, Gender Lead, who will be on a 12-month assignment in the Gender Equality Division. In this 15-month, Limited Term Engagement (LTE), the SPO, WEE-FI will play a leadership role implementing the existing WEE-FI strategy within FSP. You will be expected to continue strengthening existing relationships with internal foundation teams, grantees, contractors, and key partners that have proven critical to our success to date. The interim role reports the Deputy Director, Usage, Gender, and Private Sector Engagement. The role does not have people management responsibilities.
Given the current strategic evolution that FSP and Initiative 3 are going through, you will be much more than a caretaker of an existing portfolio, but rather a thought partner in shaping and launching the next four-year strategy as we move beyond payments and beyond access. You will serve as the internal expert on women’s financial inclusion as we design the next phase of FSP’s work and will work across FSP and the foundation to achieve our goals. You will also support FSP colleagues to continue to meet or exceed our target of 80% of our portfolio being gender intentional or progressive and influence other divisions to set similarly ambitious goals. In addition, you will represent FSP externally on issues related to women’s financial inclusion, further bolstering the foundation’s role as an inspiring leader in the industry.
This role is a limited term employee with an expected duration of 15 months. There is no employment visa or relocation support available.
As Senior Program Officer, Women’s Financial Inclusion, you will be accountable for the quality execution of a portfolio of investments and the establishment of strong internal partner relationships. You will have full accountability for the evolution and execution of the gender strategy within FSP. This includes but is not limited to the following responsibilities:
- Ensure timely, high-quality execution of the existing WEE-FI strategy
- Maintain all existing key relationships with other internal teams as well as externals partners and collaborators.
- Manage current portfolio of investments for one-time and on-budget completion of targets and results.
- Design and implement new investments as needed that align with the WEE-FI, I3, and FSP strategies.
- Collaborate across FSP and other PSTs – especially Gender Equality and AgDev – to co-design investments and to improve across the foundation on how we design and deliver solutions that result in measurable impact for women.
- Lead gender integration across FSP.
- Lead any modifications to the existing WEE-FI strategy so that it aligns logically with the new FSP strategy currently in development.
- Provide intellectual leadership to continuously challenge and improve FSP’s thinking about the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of women’s financial inclusion by monitoring current trends related to women’s financial inclusion, tracking relevant collaborators and initiatives, and identifying and realizing opportunities for innovation.
- Set and meet or exceed clear, measurable critical metrics wherever possible on the WEE-FI portfolio.
- Establish and manage a bold but achievable road map for any new WEE-FI work.
- Manage the annual budgets to avoid over/underspend while ensuring the highest impact value on investments.
- Identify key portfolio risks, and develop and communicate mitigation strategies.
- Serve as a spokesperson and represent FSP’s interests as they relate to WEE-FI both internally with other initiatives and PSTs and externally with partners, peers, and other collaborators.
- Work with foundation leadership as requested to address cross-cutting issues and improve functions and performance.
- Lead the preparation of materials for the annual planning process, strategy reviews, learning sessions, briefings, and submissions to the GGO President, CEO, and Co-Chairs.
Core Knowledge & Skills:
Your primary motivation is transforming the lives of women and girls around the world. You are masterful at solving complex problems by breaking them down into their component parts using a first principles approach and designing ambitious and innovative but achievable solutions. You not only are a strategic problem solver but are also able to move from 30,000 feet to 5,000 feet to manage the execution of that strategy. You are highly data-driven in your thinking but also have a bias toward action. You thrive in situations of uncertainty and know the difference between calculated and imprudent risks. You seek out feedback, start and end everything you do with a growth mindset, and can keep your head while all others might be losing theirs.
The responsibilities of this role require that you should have an unquestioned commitment to gender equality and be recognized by the global professional community as an expert in gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, preferably in financial services, with grounded experience in gender integration. Additionally, we seek:
- Proven expertise in closing gender divides, preferably in financial inclusion but experience in other fields is also welcome. Extensive operational experience gained in the field with our target populations, especially in Africa or South/Southeast Asia, is highly preferred.
- Experience in retail finance (mobile money, payments, credit, savings, insurance) preferred
- Ability to develop a coherent strategy and complete it; results-oriented with an ability to prioritize, make tough decision, focus, and get things done within a complex organizational structure.
- Demonstrated capacity to use data and evidence as a driving tool for problem solving.
- Demonstrated experience in building partnerships of cross-sectoral, cross-functional teams to tackle complex and multi-faceted problems.
- Exceptional communication skills – ability to translate complex ideas into a coherent, absorbable synthesis for diverse audiences.
- A highly cultivated sense of resilience. You can accept and recover from setbacks quickly, adapt well to change, and drive forward in the face of adversity with a positive demeanor and sense of humor.
- Ability to travel ~30% domestically and internationally.
- Legally able to work in the U.S. without employment visa sponsorship.
Education and Experience
- Advanced degree in Economics, Business, or related field AND 15+ years of experience strongly preferred. Hiring Requirements
As part of our standard hiring process for new employees, employment will be contingent upon successful completion of a background check.
Depending upon your work location, we may require proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 and any recommended booster doses. All employees based in the United States are to provide proof of full vaccination upon hire and any recommended boosters, subject to applicable laws.
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We are dedicated to the belief that all lives have equal value. We’re committed to creating a workplace where employees thrive both personally and professionally. We also believe our employees should reflect the rich diversity of the global populations we aim to serve—in race, gender, age, cultures and beliefs—and we support this diversity through all of our employment practices.
All applicants and employees who are drawn to serve our mission will enjoy equality of opportunity and fair treatment without regard to race, color, age, religion, pregnancy, sex, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, and prior protected activity.