• Kenya Country Director at Kounkuey Design Initiative

  • Posted on: 12 April, 2018 Deadline: Not Specified
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    KDI is a non-profit design and community development organisation. We partner with under-resourced communities to advance equity and activate the unrealised potential in their neighbourhoods and cities. We accomplish this mission through advocacy, research, planning, and built works.

    KDI is currently working on over 20 projects with communities in Kenya and the United States. We strategically select and design our small-scale projects to create both physical and human networks that, when taken together, can start to address larger, regional challenges like transportation, water pollution, unemployment, and social exclusion.

    Kenya Country Director


    Job Description

    KDI is looking for a unique individual to lead its dynamic and growing Nairobi office. A background in the built environment, planning or community development and a number of years in a leadership position managing teams for design/construction and/or community projects is expected. More than any particular disciplinary background, the ideal candidate will have a passion for community development and the capacity to lead and develop a diverse and growing team.

    This is not a conventional position. The Country Director is personally responsible for a team that is working in very challenging places and trying to achieve almost impossible things. Much of our work takes place in the informal settlement of Kibera, where we have been working with community partners since 2006 to create public spaces and build small infrastructure projects. In a normal day you might need to consult with local children, street vendors, youth cartels, community leaders, politicians and ministers. You will need to see like a designer, think like an economist and act like a social worker all at once. Standard operating procedures only go so far, as many of the projects you will be attempting to complete are breaking new ground in places where the parameters change every day.

    Every year you will need to generate significant income to sustain KDI’s operations in Kenya. Even if you succeed, you may still not have enough money to achieve what you, your staff, or your community partners believe to be possible. You will also need to travel – one day to present to donors in New York, the next to receive an award in Dubai, and the day after to speak at a conference in Bangkok.

    This is unquestionably a stressful job. And yet, it will be the most exciting, invigorating, and rewarding position you ever hold. You may lose more battles than you win, but you will be fighting the good fight alongside a team of intelligent, dedicated individuals that share your passion. You will see tangible results from your hard work and you will change the lives of many people for the better.

    Duties & Responsibilities

    The Kenya Country Director oversees KDI projects in design, construction, research and community work; fundraising and cost management for all KDI programmes in Kenya; and the general management of 14 full time office staff, site construction teams and networks of volunteers.

    1. Project, Programme and Design Management (~20%)

    Oversee design, development and delivery of KDI Kenya’s projects and programmes. Overall quarterly and annual work planning for KDI Kenya team in collaboration with Stockholm and LA offices. Oversight of senior management, project leadership, and design, community and research teams. Develop and set operational standards and tone for KDI Kenya team. Close coordination with US and Sweden offices, US and Kenya Boards, and Founders.

    2. Human Resource Management (~20%)

    Develop and maintain a robust HR programme. Oversee the recruitment, training, support and development of KDI Kenya staff. Effectively manage and support all team members on a day-to-day basis with help from the management team. Prioritise capacity strengthening staff with diverse educational, professional and life backgrounds and experiences.

    3. Community Engagement (~20%)

    With the support of Kenya Associate Director (a community development specialist), lead engagement with KDI’s community partners for the co-delivery of built projects and community networking projects. The position will require close shadowing of the community team in the early months to understand the fundamental importance of this component.

    4. Financial, Tax, Risk and Facilities Management (~15%)

    Work with the finance team to develop, introduce and monitor financial systems and build budgets for management and Board approval. Prudently manage organisation’s and donor’s resources within budget guidelines according to Kenyan law and donor requirements. Verify budgets and approvals for all KDI site works, payroll, and overhead.

    5. Fundraising (~10%)

    Oversee KDI Kenya’s fundraising strategy, including identifying resource requirements, researching funding sources, establishing strategies to approach funders, submitting proposals, pitching to donors and investors, and administrating fundraising records and documentation. Play key role in raising $200-500k per year. Meet with prospective and active donors. Coordinate closely with fulltime fundraising team in the US.

    6. Public Relations (~10%)

    Contribute to media and academic publications that communicate KDI’s mission, programmes, and projects in consistent, creative, strong and constructive language. Maintain a public role as point of contact for KDI Kenya’s internal and external relations. Be an advocate for design and community development in Nairobi and further afield.

    7. Strategic Planning (~5%)

    Maintain and develop existing and new strategic relationships. In partnership with the Kenya Associate Director, US Directors and the Board, build, implement and monitor the organisation’s Strategic Plan and Annual Business Plans

    Desired Profile

    Talents and Skills

    • A passion for creating transformative places and working collaboratively with people from all walks of life
    • Flexibility, adaptability, quick thinking
    • Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design/Planning, Engineering, or a related Built Environment profession; or in Community Development, International Development, or a related field (and more importantly, you’ve done something with it)
    • Significant experience with accounting and financial management
    • Experience working extensively with spreadsheets and other project and financial management tools
    • Strong writing and graphic communication skills
    • Strong oral presentation skills
    • Fluent in English and ideally also in Kiswahili
    • Able to live and work in Nairobi, with significant field time in Kibera
    • Capable of frequent national and international travel, often at short notice


    • Excellent leadership and team building skills
    • Relevant experience in running a small-scale business or organisation
    • Experience with community work in challenging environments, particularly informal settlements
    • Proven ability to innovate and transform organisations or groups
    • Demonstrable track record of raising investments or donations
    • Kenyan nationality preferred, at a minimum significant experience in the East Africa region and preferably Nairobi
    • Strong references


    • Competitive salary (international NGO/design firm)
    • Private health insurance coverage
    • Travel and some support for relocation (including work permits where required)
    • Personal annual budget for training and support for professional accreditation
    • Kenyan leave entitlement

    Method of Application

    Interested parties should submit the following:

    • A detailed cover letter explaining your qualifications, why you are a good fit, and what attracts you to apply for this position at KDI
    • Your current Curriculum Vitae or résumé, including the names and contact details of two referees who have a thorough knowledge of your previous work (these will be contacted only following your expressed permission)
    • A short statement (no more than two pages) which highlights three strategic areas where your skills and experience can help both KDI’s Kenya-based and global operations grow in the next 3 years (with reference to KDI’s Strategic Plan)
    • Samples of previous work (e.g. excerpts of writing, project reports or portfolio) in PDF format

    Please note that we will only accept electronic submissions and will only contact the most qualified applicants to schedule a formal interview. Please submit application materials electronically to Chelina Odbert (Executive Director) and Joe Mulligan (Associate Director) using the following email address: kenyajobs@kounkuey.org and write “Kenya Country Director” in the Subject Line.

    Deadline for Applications: open until filled

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