Director- Innovative Finance Lab (NPSA11) - Tenders Global

Director- Innovative Finance Lab (NPSA11)

UNDP - United Nations Development Programme

Background and Organizational Context

UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.

UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.

Office/Unit/Project Description

Ethiopia is undertaking significant transformational changes including in liberalizing the economy and partial privatization of some of the most important economic sectors. To ensure this transformation, Ethiopia has developed the Homegrown Economic Reform Programme (HGER), that aims to address structural issues and sustain a rapid and inclusive economic growth setting the country on a path to prosperity. In line with the above context and following the approval of the new Country Program Document (CPD) for the period of 2020 – 2025, the UNDP CO has identified major focus areas in supporting structural reforms in Ethiopia. Among these areas is promoting access to innovative and inclusive finance, promotion of innovation and digitalization as well as entrepreneurship development in support of businesses (MSMEs) towards intensive job creation. The priority areas of intervention towards MSME development focuses on:

  • Policy, regulatory frameworks, and institutional infrastructure
  • Skilling, training, knowledge building
  • Enterprise development and business development and advisory services and.
  • Financial services to de-risk investments and provide affordable finance customized to business requirements.


One of the strategic initiatives in tandem with the interventions is the establishment of an Innovative Finance Lab (IFL), based at the National Bank of Ethiopia. The IFL has three pillars, namely, Technical Assistance Facility (TAF), Enterprise Financing Facility (EFF) and the Knowledge Sharing Unit (KSU). With broader objective to spearhead thought leadership and advocacy for innovative and inclusive finance for sustainable development; the Lab will focus on growth oriented MSMEs development and financing.

Ethiopia has more than 2.29 million MSMEs of which 70% are micro level. Only 11% of the MSMEs are getting access to finance from any source, which is very low compared to 22% in Sub-Sharan Africa and 26% at global level. Ethiopian banks (private and public) only lend 2-3% of their total lending portfolio. This is by far the lowest for a sector that is presumed to contribute for 50% of employment and covering 80-90% of the businesses at global level. To address this critical challenge of MSMEs’ access to finance, UNDP and NBE have jointly initiated and launched an innovative finance lab (IFL) to look for alternative financial instruments that are different from the conventional ones to address the finance needs of MSMEs and bridge the gap on the supply and demand of capital for MSMEs. Actors in the ecosystem have high expectation on the lab to be mobilize capital, reach out thousands of growth oriented MSMEs and demonstrate this unique arrangement be a model for Ethiopia and other countries in the developing world.

The Innovative Finance Lab is expected to play a strategic and catalytic role to curb the challenges of financing MSMEs and start-ups using a three-pronged approach: (a) mobilizing a catalytic capital to address the supply constraints through the Enterprise Financing Facility; (b) capacity building and project development through technical assistance facility to harness the demand side gap; and c) bridging the gap by harnessing the potential of the knowledge sharing unit that promotes policy and regulatory reforms ; research and advocacy for market-oriented innovative and inclusive finance solution for MSMEs and the broader digital and financial ecosystems. The lab is co-created by UNDP and NBE but managed by advisory board composed of key ministries (represented by state ministers), representatives of public and private financial institutions, representative of private sector actors in the finance sector and interested individuals.

Considering this, UNDP Ethiopia intends to recruit a full time and highly experienced Director of the Innovative Finance Lab to oversee the management, operations and strategic leadership of the innovative finance lab, facilitate mobilization of capital from all possible sources, work with the FIs and ensure cross-functionality of activities towards achieving the intended objectives of the lab. Accordingly, the incumbent will be responsible for the following tasks:

Scope of Work

Technical leadership in analysis, design and applications, policy advisory work, institutional development and growth

  • Serve as the overall technical lead for implementation of the Lab’s strategy and monitor/ assess performance;
  • Guide and oversee analytical work to support the work of the Lab, especially design work related to the TAF and EFF, and on-going policy advisory and advocacy work;
  • Collaborate and work closely with the NBE to influence policy reform, including through the development and utilization of regulatory sandboxes;
  • Ensure that the management of the EFF meets the ‘market test’ and best practice in the global financial industry;
  • Spearhead and/or contribute substantively to the development of innovative financial instruments and enterprise support services to capture global and regional best practice with the aim of becoming ‘best of breed’ in Ethiopia;
  • Guide the lab teams in the sequencing and complementarity of activities under the TAF and EFF;
  • Ensure appropriate technical guidance for the operation of the lab are developed and regularly updated to capture new and emerging issues in the secto;
  • Monitor and report on wider global and regional trends in innovative finance polices and financial instruments relevant to the effective positioning and efficient functioning of the innovative finance lab in Ethiopia;
  • Advice the UNDP CO on an ambitious short- to medium-term institutional development strategy for the Lab.

Stakeholder coordination, Partnership Management and Resource Mobilization

  • Oversee and support the effort to capitalize the EFF and fund the TAF to meet short- to medium-term targets;
  • Identify and establish good relationship with stakeholders working in the sector and across the ecosystem, including incubators, fintech, accelerators, financiers, trainers, BDS service providers;
  • Facilitate the Advisory Board (AB) meetings for the Innovative Finance Lab and ensure regular and ad hoc meetings of the SAB, update them on the progress and ensure the necessary documentations are produced;
  • Ensure up-to-date information and provide advice to lab teams on emerging issues in relation to changes in stakeholder relationships/structures;
  • Represent UNDP’s Innovative Finance Lab at relevant industry and sector specifics conferences and events;
  • Manage direct relations between the lab and other stakeholders in the ecosystem.

Management and Operationalization of the Innovative Finance Lab

  • Ensure that work plans, and budgets conform with the project objectives;
  • Coordinate and supervise the implementation of project outputs to the required standard of quality and within the specified constraints of time and cost as outlined in the project document;
  • In consultation with the team, develop integrated annual work plans for the innovative finance lab to deliver outputs and objectives against agreed targets;
  • Lead the monitoring and reporting on the Lab’s activities as well as facilitate required audits;
  • Support lab staff in the implementation of impactful projects across the different components with additionality, scale and sustainability in mind;
  • Coordinate the end-to-end process of the lab operations, including HR, financial management and procurement, in line with UNDP regulations and rules;
  • Ensure smooth coordination between the lab teams and other support functions within UNDP such as with finance, HR and procurement and other functions;
  • Identify opportunities for synergy with other projects within UNDP and beyond, to advance the objective of the lab and grow its focus.

Knowledge management, research and analytics

  • Lead sector diagnostic relevant to the activities of the lab including but not limited to facilitation f regulatory sandbox for fintech and capital markets, participation of SMEs in the newly set up Ethiopian Stock Exchange;
  • Oversee the implementation of the knowledge management strategy for the lab;
  • Conduct capacity need assessment of lab staffs and other partners implementing relevant to their respective activities and organize learnings through trainings, workshops, experience sharing events/benchmark visits;
  • Identify opportunities for synergy with other projects within UNDP and beyond, to advance the objective of the lab and grow its focus.

Monitoring and evaluation

  • Working with the country office team, ensure the lab has effective and efficient M&E framework and activities are properly monitored and evaluated;
  • Ensure updated evidence of workshops and seminars delivered in support of the lab’s activities;
  • Support the M&E team and ensure information needs on impact data and other monitoring tools are up to date;
  • Assist relevant M&E activities through participating in the missions as well as supporting with materials and resources developed during project implementation.

Institutional Arrangement

Under the overall guidance of the Team Leader, Inclusive Economic Transformation Unit, the primary function of the Director of the Lab is to lead, organize and oversee the day-to-day activities of the innovative finance lab and ensure effective and timely delivery of project activities as per the plan. The Lab Director works with respective project team members at the project level; and develop and maintain viable working relationships with key partners and stakeholders including project beneficiaries, technical assistance service providers and government authorities such as the National Bank of Ethiopia.

Core competencies

  • Achieve Results:  LEVEL 3: Set and align challenging, achievable objectives for multiple projects, have lasting impact
  • Think Innovatively: LEVEL 3: Proactively mitigate potential risks, develop new ideas to solve complex problems
  • Learn Continuously:   LEVEL 3: Create and act on opportunities to expand horizons, diversify experiences
  • Adapt with Agility: LEVEL 3: Proactively initiate and champion change, manage multiple competing demands
  • Act with Determination: LEVEL 3: Think beyond immediate task/barriers and take action to achieve greater results
  • Engage and Partner: LEVEL 3: Political savvy, navigate complex landscape, champion inter-agency collaboration
  • Enable Diversity and Inclusion: LEVEL 3: Appreciate benefits of diverse workforce and champion inclusivity

Cross-Functional & Technical competencies

  • Priority Setting: Ability to scan and synthesize diverse sets of information to arrive at strategic priorities and positioning recommendation.
  • Communication: Ability to communicate clearly through successful interactions with all levels of stakeholder groups, including senior government officials, business executives, and local people/communities
  • Strategic Thinking: Ability to develop effective strategies and prioritized plans in line with UNDP’s objectives.
  • Portfolio Management: Ability to select, prioritize, and control the organization’s programmes and projects, in line with its strategic objectives and capacity.
  • Operations Management: Ability to effectively plan, organize and oversee the organizational business process

Required Skills and Experience


Master’s level university degree in development finance, international finance, business administration, management, economics, development economics (with a strong specialization in MSMEs business development and finance). 


  • Minimum 7 years of professional experience in financial inclusion preferably in the private sector focusing on supporting start-ups/MSMEs. Progressively senior experience in the private sector, especially financial institutions, in Ethiopia and/or abroad will be a key advantage;
  • Extensive knowledge and understanding of the business landscape and MSME ecosystems, in Ethiopia and/or abroad including but not limited to access to finance, policies, regulations, and actors, including the role of the private sector;
  • Experience with and understanding of development finance and the role of innovative financial instruments in addressing financing needs by MSMEs.

Required skills and competencies

  • Ability to lead people and manage and coordinate stakeholders and partners;
  • Excellent analytical capacity on development financing and policy advocacy work on MSMEs access to finance;
  • Ability to prepare quality reports;
  • Ability to effectively coordinate a multi-stakeholder project including extensive experience in planning, prioritizing, sequencing, managing, problem-solving, and reporting on the implementation of projects;
  • Excellent working knowledge of English and track record in producing reports in English including writing project success stories, lessons learned, and best practices;
  • Excellent presentation skills, appropriate to various audiences


  • Verbal and written proficiency in English and Amharic

Professional Certificates

  • Completion of Project Management training is an asset


Applicant information about UNDP rosters

Note: UNDP reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement.  We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNDP at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.

Scam warning

The United Nations does not charge any application, processing, training, interviewing, testing or other fee in connection with the application or recruitment process. Should you receive a solicitation for the payment of a fee, please disregard it. Furthermore, please note that emblems, logos, names and addresses are easily copied and reproduced. Therefore, you are advised to apply particular care when submitting personal information on the web.


To help us track our recruitment effort, please indicate in your cover/motivation letter where ( you saw this job posting.

Job Location