Title: Technical Advisor 1: Strengthening MSMEs and Value Chain Actors

Department: Programs – Restore Africa

Report to: Market Systems Development (MSD) Unit Lead

Job Location: Kampala/Uganda

Vacancies: One (1)

About CRS

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. CRS works to save, protect, and transform lives in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance, and peacebuilding.

CRS has been working in Uganda since 1965 and has a vibrant portfolio of projects, serving over a million vulnerable Ugandans and refugees each year through the Country Program 2030 Strategy. CRS programs in Uganda currently support five strategic priority areas, including Health and Social Services Systems Strengthening, Resilient Food Systems, Emergency Preparedness and Management, Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, and Local Leadership. CRS Uganda implements its programs through partnerships with local organizations, including international and local NGOs, Ugandan government departments and ministries, the Catholic Church, and community-based organizations for maximum impact and sustainability.


Under the Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation strategic priority area, CRS aims to ‘drive uptake and scaling of nature-based solutions and novel financing mechanisms to support national and community level efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change’. Within the Program Management Unit focused on scaling nature-based solutions and novel financing mechanisms, CRS is establishing a Market System Development unit. This will oversee the FCDO-funded project entitled ‘Market Linkages for Livelihoods and Land Restoration (M4LLR)” (2024-2027) but will also provide technical advisory and potentially direct oversight of all dedicated value chain, MSD, BDS and livelihoods staff funded by other initiatives which are linked to CRS’ climate-financed land restoration initiatives.

The specific objective of the M4LLR project is to establish market linkages for smallholder farmers participating in land restoration initiatives in Uganda. The project will strive to facilitate the integration of climate-smart and sustainable land restoration practices within profitable and diversified agroforestry production systems.

The M4LLR project will concentrate its efforts on 17 districts located in the Midwest, Rwenzori, and Elgon regions of Uganda, and links closely with the Climate Asset Management funded ‘Restore Africa’ Initiative. These areas present substantial opportunities to involve private sector participants and farmers in both landscape restoration and the development of sustainable and diversified production systems across a variety of value chains, leveraging and building on CRS and consortium partner activities, structures, and partnerships.

Job Summary:

  • You will provide technical advice and support to a range of program design and implementation issues in the area of MSME strengthening in line with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) program quality principles and standards, donor guidelines, and industry best practices to advance the delivery of high-quality programming to the poor and vulnerable. Your advice, knowledge, and support will contribute to determining how effective, adaptive, and innovative CRS’ MSME strengthening programming is across the globe.
  • Specifically, you will design, execute, and adjust the strategic direction for M4LLR’s MSME strengthening support to potential partners. Within that strategy you will build the capacity of key market actors to develop and coordinate services which increase smallholder farmer access to markets at the same time as incentivizing uptake of practices which restore soil health and increase productivity. Working closely with the Value Chain Specialist, Green Business Specialist, and the MSD Unit Lead, you will propose partnerships and identify opportunities to leverage with M4LLR’s Smallholder Climate Resilience Grant Fund (SCRF), considering global incentives for market engagement in sustainable agriculture and potential for linking with international climate finance.
  • You will lead on approaches to develop stronger, more agile, inclusive, and well-governed farmer organizations engaged in CRS’ climate adaptation and mitigation programs (Restore Africa, M4LLR), and participate actively in learning and adaptation around best practices to support farmers, MSMEs and value chain actors to develop mutually beneficial partnerships which incentivize land restoration and income generation.

Roles and Key Responsibilities:

  • Support development of Smallholder Climate Resilience Fund (SCRF) grants manual with simple application tools and clear processes/guidelines, including eligibility, a selection criteria and simple marketing materials to enable efficient market actor engagement across all three funding categories: Category 1: Formal SMEs/Financial Institutions, Category 2: Existing microenterprises / coops / POs, and Category 3: women/youth groups and startup agripreneurs.
  • Train M4LLR team and partner staff on SCRF goals/process/timelines to enable effective communication with market actors in M4LLR geographies.
  • Conduct a preselection meeting with potential actors in the M4LLR geographies.
  • Conduct grant application evaluation (M4LLR internal evaluation committee) for potential grants identified from the scoping activity for category 1, 2 &3. This will include both administrative and technical capacity assessment.
  • Perform pre-awards due diligence with a focus on governance, financial and organisation capacity for category 1, 2 & 3 grantees.
  • Review final business plans after co-creation and development of Agroforestry business models for grantees.
  • Facilitate targeted BDS support to SCRF beneficiaries to address capacity gaps and enable businesses to adapt their business models to support smallholder landscape restoration and climate change adaptation for category grantees.
  • Monitor and evaluate SCRF beneficiary pilot impact, business model performance and job creation, documenting learnings and adaptations, and terminating ineffective business cases or none performing grants.
  • Contribute local data and insights to help develop and regularly update program BDS strategies to strengthen support across full set of program interventions.
  • Design/adapt approaches to strengthen group governance in line with outcome 3 of M4LLR, train relevant staff on this and ensure quality of implementation of support activities to groups outside of those supported on SCRF.
  • Identify and coordinate with M4LLR’s Senior Program Officers and Project Officers (IP staff) to evaluate needs and support scoping of projects appropriate for support that address partner needs.
  • Work with partners in targeted geographies, facilitate innovation and pilots that promote inclusive business models.
  • Contribute to M4LLR deliverables, including annual work plans, monitoring, evaluation, and learning plans, quarterly/annual progress reports, strategies and action plans, and external communications, ensuring timely, high-quality delivery and compliance with donor reporting requirements.
  • Actively participate in and contribute to M4LLR monitoring, evaluation and learning activities, reviewing, and analyzing performance of models/pilots and partnerships to identify successes, challenges, and learning.
  • Perform any other duties as assigned by the MSD Unit Lead.

Basic qualifications:

  • A master’s degree in a relevant field including international development, agriculture, economics, business and finance, marketing.
  • At least 3 years of experience in agricultural value chain development, business development service provision and/or, rural development.
  • Demonstrated ability to work and coordinate effectively with a wide variety of stakeholders, including national and local government, donors, community-based organizations, and the private sector.
  • Strong strategic, analytical, systems thinking, and problem-solving skills, with capacity to see the big picture and ability to make sound judgment and decisions.
  • Experience engaging partners and strengthening partnerships. Knowledge of capacity strengthening best practices.
  • Experience with program monitoring and evaluation and analysis.
  • Experience working with MSMEs, producers, producer organizations, traders, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers.
  • Experience facilitating linkages with private sector and cooperatives.
  • Adept at developing and sustaining high-level relationships.
  • Strategic thinker
  • Strong team player and consensus builder
  • Highly computer literate
  • Excellent oral and written English communication skills.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Private sector experience preferred.
  • Experience in supporting development of inclusive governance approaches and fostering gender equality in decision making processes.
  • Understanding of MEAL approaches and adaptive learning.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills, with ability to make sound judgment and decisions and offer innovative solutions.
  • Strong relations management abilities. Ability to relate to people at all levels internally and externally. Strategic in how you approach each relationship.
  • Good presentation and facilitation skills.
  • Proactive, resourceful, solutions-oriented, and results-oriented.

Required Languages: English fluency, including excellent oral and written skills, required. Fluent in at least one local dialect spoken in the following regions of Uganda: Mt. Elgon, Tororo, Rwenzori, and/or mid-West.

Travel: Must be willing and able to travel up to 50 % to project sites.

Key Working Relationships

  • Supervisory: None
  • Internal: Reports to MSD Unit Lead.
  • External: Works closely with Greening Business Specialist (CRS), Value Chain Specialist (CRS), M4LLR Senior Project Officers – Livelihoods (seconded to IPs), Project Officers (IP staff), MEAL Officers and Learning Specialist.

Agency-wide Competencies (for all CRS Staff)

Agency competencies clarify expected behaviors and attitudes for all staff. When demonstrated, they create an engaging workplace, help staff achieve their best, and help CRS achieve agency goals. These are rooted in the mission, values, and guiding principles of CRS and used by each staff member to fulfill his or her responsibilities and achieve the desired results.

  • Personal Accountability – Consistently takes responsibility for one’s own actions.
  • Acts with Integrity – Consistently models values aligned with CRS Guiding Principles and mission. Is considered honest.
  • Builds and Maintains Trust – Shows consistency between words and actions.
  • Collaborates with Others – Works effectively in intercultural and diverse teams.
  • Open to Learn – Seeks out experiences that may change perspective or provide an opportunity to learn new things.

Agency Leadership Competencies:

  • Lead Change – Continually looks for ways to improve the agency through a culture of agility, openness, and innovation.
  • Develops and Recognizes Others – Builds the capacity of staff to reach their full potential and enhance team and agency performance.
  • Strategic Mindset – Understands role in translating, communicating, and implementing agency strategy and team priorities.

Disclaimer: This job description is not an exhaustive list of the skill, effort, duties, and responsibilities associated with the position.

CRS is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Our Catholic identity is at the heart of our mission and operations. Catholic Relief Services carries out the commitment of the Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas. We welcome as a part of our staff people of all faiths and secular traditions who share our values and our commitment to serving those in need. CRS’ processes and policies reflect our commitment to protecting children and vulnerable adults from abuse and exploitation.

By applying to this job, I understand and acknowledge that CRS requires its staff to treat all people with dignity and respect and to actively prevent harassment, abuse, exploitation, and human trafficking. Further, I understand that if I am a successful candidate, I will be subject to a comprehensive background check, and my personal/professional references will be asked to evaluate my behaviours related to the above safeguarding related topics.

How to apply

All candidates who meet the requirements are encouraged to apply by following the provided instructions.

  • This position is for Uganda Nationals only.
  • The deadline for submitting applications is June 28, 2024, no later than 5:00pm.
  • Applications are received electronically through this link https://form.jotform.com/241640957823563 only.
  • Kindly be aware that this position is contingent on proposal. Its availability is subject to CRS successfully obtaining funding from the donor.


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