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JOB DESCRIPTION: GENERAL MANAGER

1. BACKGROUND

Grassroot is a community organizing technology start-up. Our vision is a nation self-organizing from the ground up. Our mission is to build mobile tools for men and women who are organizing their neighbours in low-income communities in South Africa. In doing so we aim to give new life to the Freedom Charter’s foremost demand: The People Shall Govern.

Since early 2016, we have deployed a set of mobile apps (working on any phone, even without data) that have now reached almost 40,000 people and handle almost 100,000 notifications a month. Those tools make it easier for ordinary people to call meetings, record decisions and take votes. We have built partnerships with a range of social movements, and are particularly active in the Greater Soweto area. Our Board consists of senior professionals with backgrounds in software, activism, institutional reform, and finance, at the dti, the CIPC, the World Bank, McKinsey, and elsewhere. Our operational team combines development work with fieldwork, with a heavy emphasis on meeting users where they are.

We are now about to embark on a new phase of growth, expanding into:
A range of new communities, significantly expanding our provincial and national footprint (specifically in KZN, the Western and Eastern Cape)

  • Working with municipalities to integrate Grassroot into local governance, for example in improving ward committees, and implementing participatory governance
  • Working with large civil society organizations, such as trade unions, to implement Grassroot to strengthen their internal governance
  • Working with corporations (indirectly or directly) to strengthen stakeholder engagement among large-scale / distributed stakeholders
  • Pursuing large-scale custom developments and/or adjustments of the platform to enable modernized civil society membership drives / campaigns

We are currently funded primarily by donors. Our supporters include the Omidyar Network, the Open Society Foundation, the Indigo Trust, and others. In the next year, we aim to rapidly develop self-generated revenue. To that end, we have launched “Grassroot Extra”, in which we charge large groups a usage fee, and will start to conduct custom development so that Grassroot’s infrastructure can be used by other, similar organizations for mobile outreach.

2. GENERAL MANAGER

To execute against this ambitious set of activities we are now looking to expand our management team. We are specifically seeking a general manager to oversee our range of pilot projects, fieldwork, and community and organizational partnerships. This role will combine direct operational oversight with business development, project management, and strategic input to the Executive Director and the Board. It will offer significant opportunities for growth, with the possibility to grow into a COO role in a few years.

The person who assumes the role will work closely with Grassroot’s CEO. She or he will have to be comfortable in a wide range of environments, from being on-the-ground with communities in informal settlements and rural areas to interacting with senior officials and officeholders in municipalities, CSOs, unions and corporations. She or he will have direct oversight of the Grassroot Ambassador program, our program of direct outreach in marginal communities, and of its significant expansion in the next two years.

3. KEY TASKS

  1. Primary oversight and coordination of Grassroot’s community-based fieldwork, including the Grassroot Ambassador program
  2. Joint planning and coordination of Grassroot’s work with municipalities, working with the CEO and the project manager(s) for outreach & pilots in specific provinces/areas
  3. Joint planning and coordination of Grassroot’s work with unions and/or corporations, working with the CEO and relevant project manager(s)
  4. Preparation and execution of the next stage of community outreach and growth, including the expansion of the Ambassador program in provinces outside of Gauteng
  5. Channel lessons learned and feedback about Grassroot’s tools into the development process, from minor tweaks to large-scale adaptations and helping design new capabilities
  6. Conduct continuous evaluation, learning and adaptation of Grassroot’s field programs, extracting lessons to shape strategy, enhance impact and inform our partners and funders

4. Required capabilities & experience

  1. At least two years’ experience in a high-growth and/or high-pressure environment, or five years’ experience in a traditional organization
  2. Operational experience running direct outreach campaigns and/or in direct field work in low-income / marginalized communities (with ongoing operations, i.e., not including primarily office-based work with occasional workshops)
  3. Operational experience in project management, with preference for experience in developing a new line of business / operations, and/or a wholly new project
  4. Experience of failure, and demonstrated capacity to learn from it
  5. Demonstrated qualities of humility, including the ability to work with and gain the trust of the poor and marginalized as well as senior colleagues, and of curiosity
  6. There is no preference for sector background, with the above requirements being equally satisfied in private sector, public sector, or civil society
  7. Fluency in at least one Nguni or Sotho-Tswana language is required, with proficiency in at least one language from each preferred.
  8. Ability to work in a high-pressure, uncertain environment under constant change. In particular, a sense of humour.

5. APPLICATION PROCESS

Applications should submit a cover letter below. Longlisted applicants will be asked for a CV, and shortlisted applicants will then be invited to interviews.

 

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