Within Uganda, Mercy Corps works principally in post-conflict areas of the Acholi sub-region to integrate targeted assistance for the smallholder farmers with a larger strategic focus on market systems development that promotes long-term systemic change. By addressing a number of interrelated needs within a wide range of activities (livelihoods agriculture and financial access), Mercy Corps applies a broad but integrated approach to address challenges to product and service availability, access and utilization.
We believe that access to financial services underpins social and economic development. Access and usage of financial services and products drives poverty in the developing agriculture sector; poor access to financial services and products results in limited access to agricultural inputs, use of home labour, little or no mechanized tillage, post-harvest problems, low yields, limited access to market and limited economic growth. In East Acholi, where almost all the population is engaged in small scale farming, access to financial services/ products remains a central challenge.
However, in recent years both formal and informal financial institutions have begun to establish branches, satellite offices, develop tailored products and services that favors smallholder farmers and innovative ways of bringing services closer to the farmers in order to reduce transactional costs. These services/products and innovations offer highly beneficial, cost-saving alternatives to traditional banking systems. At the same time, these services/products and innovations are also not being completely successful in rapidly and broadly reaching their target markets.
Across the Acholi sub-region, through the work of our Financial Access team on three interrelated agriculture and market development programs funded by the United States Department of Agriculture; Sweden and the MasterCard Foundation, Mercy Corps Uganda is playing a valuable role in helping to accelerate access to rural agricultural financing, by reducing barriers to financial services and catalyzing consumer demand. The use of mobile phone technology is alternative in providing financial inclusion to smallholder farmers, However, this technology is limited in use among the farmers and agribusinesses.
There is an important need to expand technology to smallholder farmers and financial services providers in the region, moreover with the number of mobile phones in households and presences of MNOs in the Acholi Sub-region, opportunities are emerging to leverage existing technology, including those networks in the agricultural sector, to reach underserved markets in the region. Lastly, the strategy points to a need to better understand consumer constraints with respect to use of ICT in accessing financial services and products. This will provide another platform upon which the design of strategies can be expanded and through which our private sector partner financial institutions can tailor technology according to the main constraints identified in these markets.
- To support these efforts, we are looking for an intern to lead the development of a regional strategy for scaling up ICT (information and computing technologies) initiatives across all programs, specifically in financial services access; delivering and gathering information from partners and smallholder farmers, as well as other uses.
- The intern will be responsible for conducting an assessment, design, set-up a strategy which builds upon the findings of financial access team.
- The intern will play an important role in supporting financial institution partners (SAACO) in expanding mobile banking technology to underserved rural markets.
- The intern will also be responsible for ensuring that the program team has skills and experience to implement the strategy in the next year, conduct capacity building sessions as needed.
- If possible, the intern will set up and complete a small pilot testing an ICT initiative.
- Conduct a comprehensive assessment of agribusinesses, VSLAs (Village Savings and Loan Associations), mobile money operators and FIs in the Acholi sub-region, potentially nationally, with respect to use of mobile technology.
- Identify programmatic needs and challenges that could be solved through ICT initiatives in the Acholi Sub-region.
- Design regional strategy and report around starting and scaling up ICT 4 Development initiatives, conducting pilots as needed (should incorporate findings from points 1 and 2 above).
- If possible, set-up and launch pilot activities which incorporate the use of mobile banking services targeted at smallholder farmers, mobile money operators and VSLAs. Collaborate with FIs and GADC in expanding ICT schemes to underserved rural markets through existing channels, to include output market agents or buying agents.
- Support company partners in designing and launching promotional activities if any, to include advertising to create awareness.
- Trainings for staff, as needed.
- Experienced business development/management and/or financial services access professional
- Degree in business, economics, agricultural financing or related field
- Pursuing a graduate degree in international development or related field
- Strong written and verbal communicator
- Enthusiasm, creativity, and a tremendous amount of flexibility and entrepreneurial spirit
- Willingness to work under minimal direction in difficult circumstances
- A sense of humor on par with one’s level of curiosity
The intern will reside primarily in Mercy Corps’ Kitgum guesthouse, sharing the residence with other team members and interns. Facilities are clean and sufficient, but basic. Internet is readily available in all Mercy Corps offices. Security is good.
Mercy Corps interns and volunteers represent the agency both during and outside of work hours and are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC’s policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.
For the duration of this internship assignment, the intern will receive the following;
- Housing in Kitgum, Kampala and other field locations.
- Communications (cellphone).
- Reimbursement for 6-month visa.
- Transportation between field offices.
Intern will remain responsible for all costs associated with:
- Travel to/from Uganda,
- Food and all other costs with internship
Intern work-site: Kitgum, Uganda with frequent travel to surrounding districts in the Acholi Sub-region
Date of internship: June 2016 through September 2016
To apply please follow link.