Research, Evaluation, Learning & Monitoring (RELM) Director 133 views

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About Spark MicroGrants

Spark MicroGrants believes in a world where everyone lives with dignity and determines their own positive future. Decades of prescriptive aid programs however have sidelined the poor from the very programs meant to uplift them. For nearly ten years, Spark MicroGrants has been pioneering a new approach to international aid. We believe in local solutions and catalyzing rural villages facing poverty into action. After years of implementing and tweaking this model ourselves on the ground, we are now going a step further: training and enabling governments, civil society organizations and NGO partners to integrate it into their work – using our community driven model to improve civic engagement, social cohesion and livelihoods in their constituencies and ultimately make development more community driven.

At the heart of Spark’s model, the Facilitated Collective Action Process (FCAP), are ‘town-hall’ style weekly meetings, in which women and men, young and old, plan together for their community’s future. Each village democratically elects a leadership committee, establishes a village savings account, and launches a project of their choice. Members receive weekly trainings on financial management and transparency, leadership, village planning, and advocacy. Each village then receives US$8,000 in seed funds to turn project ideas into reality and receives an additional two years of management support.

With our partners, we are working hard to adapt and scale our work around the globe: In Ghana and Liberia, Advocates for Community Alternatives and Village Development Fund are piloting the process to protect communities from extractive mining companies and provide alternative sources of financing for village development initiatives. In Uganda, Community Empowerment for Rural Development (CEFORD) is piloting the FCAP to increase the self-reliance of South Sudanese refugee communities amidst the largest refugee crisis on the continent as they prepare for the withdrawal of emergency aid. In Burundi, FVS-AMADE is using the FCAP to establish inclusive, village level governance across every province in the country. And, in Rwanda, Spark is working with government partners to embed the process into the village governance model across the country. Together, 260+ villages have used the Spark process to collectively launch nearly 300 local impact projects, benefiting over 190,000 lives.

In the next years, we aim to prove the success of our approach and work with governments and civil society organizations around the world to change the conversation around and practice of how development is achieved – with communities in the driver’s seat of their own development.

Our team of 50+ people is spread across 4 countries in East Africa and the US, sharing a common vision and value system: Facilitation is at the core of everything we do: from supporting our communities to take their own decisions to working with our partners to adapt the model to their context to leading internal discussions. We are authentic – what we do is what we say and what we say is what we mean. We believe in being process-centered and that the how of what we do is just as important as the what. Our team is dynamic in seeking opportunities – from testing our model with a partner in a new country to taking it to national scale with a government – and we are not afraid to take risks. And above all we are community-driven: putting our communities’ needs at the forefront of all our work.


This role is crucial as we adopt and scale our model for families facing poverty to engage and lead in local planning and action. We need you to ensure that we are learning and measuring our impact across these opportunities, ultimately improving and proving the model’s success.

As RELM Director, you will lead a young, motivated team across our three countries of operations as well as work closely with our partners in government and civil society across additional regions to establish a culture of learning and evidence-based decision-making within Spark and our partners.

You will lead exciting organizational research, evaluation and learning initiatives, including:

1) Designing, implementing, and interpreting (hopefully!) groundbreaking research on facilitation’s value in capacity building and governance.  2) Ensuring strong systems for data collection and decision-making, such as a community member feedback system to ensure programs are accountable to end users.  3) Developing sector standards to contribute towards a burgeoning field of community-driven development, informing practitioners deploying $2 billion+ globally.


Lead Spark’s RELM strategy & department

  • Ensure learnings and data are contributing to Spark’s organizational strategy & goals as we scale our model through partners, working in close collaboration with the Product and Programs teams.
  • Drive RELM department strategy including setting and achieving departmental and organizational goals.
  • Manage, develop and retain a team six or more data and evaluation staff including middle managers and ensure all staff have clear responsibility domains, deliverables, growth opportunities, and support to achieve their goals.
  • Proactively reach out to other organizational leaders and the team to establish and strengthen a data-driven culture across Spark.

Lead on research, impact measurement, and external RELM engagement

  • Lead on our RCT external evaluation to kick off in early 2020 including serving as the main contact to external researchers and institutions and ensuring that the questions are answering organizational priorities and are aligned with the organization’s strategy and vision.
  • Develop partnerships with other evaluation groups, universities and data collection teams to push Spark to continuously test new ways of measuring and further understanding our impact – and share these results with the sector.
  • Map out existing research, network within the sector and gather learnings and evidence to inform the development of standards for facilitation and community-driven development and align Spark’s learning agenda and exchange with these standards.

Strengthen and adapt Spark M&E tools & systems in collaboration with RELM team members

  • Lead the transformation of our M&E systems from being focused on direct implementation to working with partners and capturing the quality of their and our work.
  • Oversee development of monitoring tools, analyses and learning projects that are robust, iterative and effective at capturing impact of the Spark process within partner communities including tools to garner rapid end-user feedback about program quality (“citizen feedback”).
  • Establish a culture of feedback, learning and iteration to ensure Spark’s RELM systems continue to adapt, improve, and feed into program decisions.

Enable our partners to build strong M&E systems

  • Support the RELM team to work with our partners to adapt our monitoring and evaluation tools (including baseline, midline, and end line surveys) and theory of change to their context and allow them to be in the driving seat of their program and quality control.
  • Model a service mentality of adapting and designing M&E systems that make it easy for our partners to track and improve the quality of their programs.
  • Ensure RELM works closely with other Spark teams such as the training department to support roll-out of and training on these systems across all partners.


Passion for rural communities owning their future

  • You are passionate about civic engagement & community driven development and measuring the effect of such programs within a rural context.
  • You are driven by a world with strong civil society where communities are in the driving seat of local change. You believe in the facilitation approach of development.
  • Practical experience or having dug into the existing research on CDD is an added advantage but not a requirement.

Quantitative skills – mixed with real world application

  • You have strong statistics skills, and understanding of analysis techniques and experience analyzing large and complex data sets.
  • You are able to translate complex theory and data insights into easy everyday language for a wide range of audiences (from rural communities to government rooms).
  • You know how to present and help other leaders translate data (e.g. on program quality, impact, pilot results) into programmatic decisions on our model and expansion strategy

Great manager & strategist

  • You have a strong management record of leading, nurturing and retaining great talent. You can show how you helped team members take on new responsibilities, learn new skills and grow into new roles. Experience leading managers is an added advantage.
  • You have managed a team working in a complex environment before, including handling multiple parallel projects and work streams, ideally across geographies and with non-traditional reporting structures.
  • You have led on strategy development before and can show how data has helped you make the right decisions and drove your strategy. You have handled multiple parallel projects with diverse stakeholders and timelines and aligned these with your strategy.
  • You model and drive a culture of data driven decision making for your team and the entire organization.

The core: research, evaluation, learning and monitoring

  • You have strong experience setting up or improving robust quality assurance systems and tools. Ideally you have worked in an environment where you were responsible for making these systems ready for scale as the organization was expanding quickly.
  • You have been involved in complex internal and external evaluation design and analysis (ideally within civic engagement, governance and systems change).
  • You know how to conceptualize and design evaluations: choosing relevant indicators and designing data collection tools. Experience or knowledge about M&E in civic engagement or CDD would be ideal.

You have the cultural fit to work with us here at Spark if

  • You enjoy ambiguity, proactively seek out feedback and relish the challenge of applying a range of approaches to answer complex questions.
  • You are a leader with a passion for transforming bold ideas into actionable strategies. You drive new initiatives, embrace and push for change and aren’t afraid to try something new.
  • Your are a team builder, you listen well and create an environment where everyone feels comfortable to speak up and share their ideas.
  • You are thoughtful in your approach to solving problems or setting up new projects. You collaborate and prioritize an inclusive process that can be replicated in the future.
  • You are authentic. You speak your mind and you live your values.


  • You will be part of a development revolution and as RELM Director the one who can help us show the world the impact of letting communities decide their own future.
  • Spark is a community. You will find thought partners, colleagues who challenge and push you to think further, team members who take you along and share their experience and a strong bond – from collaborating to reach our goals to competing for best singing performance at our annual retreat.
  • You will have the freedom and autonomy to make your role your own. We want to hear your crazy ideas, your vision for the future and your critical questions and see you be a key leader in our organizational transformation to a global training organization.
  • You’ll never be bored – but we also respect and value work life balance and your need for down time, vacation and reflection.


Location will be Kampala, Uganda or Kigali, Rwanda with ~30% travel within the country and the region.  We will agree on a six month probation period with learning and performance objectives. You are committed to this role for at least 2-3 years.


  • Tailor your CV to this opportunity, showcasing your relevant past roles clearly
  • Prepare the application as outlined under then submit it via the form under the same link.
  • Got any questions? Email us on
  • The recruitment for this role is carried out in collaboration with edge. All official communication regards the process will come from email addresses in the domains or

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