Program Lead: African Mayoral Initiative

Big Win Philanthropy partners with driven and committed African leaders to deliver on their transformational visions for children and young people. We seek to improve lives directly and to build demographic dividends for equitable economic growth, peace and security.

Big Win is currently seeking an inaugural Program Lead to help research, develop and execute a new African Mayoral Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa. The position will drive the conceptualization and planning for this new prong of Big Win’s ongoing efforts to equip the leaders bringing transformational change to the continent.

The African Mayoral Initiative

Seventy percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is now under 30 years of age, and African countries are urbanizing at a rate double the global average. Seventeen African cities are within the vicinity of 5 million inhabitants, and nearly 100 cities have exceeded or are nearing 1 million residents. The deliberate – or haphazard – way in which these burgeoning cities organize will have long-term implications for the well- being of countries’ youthful populations in all spheres of life, from food security to health and education outcomes to economic opportunities to safety and other quality-of-life indicators. Thriving, livable cities are also critical to peace, stability and environmental sustainability.

Building on Big Win’s experience with the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program (aimed at supporting federal ministers to deliver transformational impact) and the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Center’s Amujae Initative (devoted to accelerating women’s ascent to the highest levels of public leadership), the African Mayoral Initiative is envisioned to support African mayors and their teams to develop bold, transformative agendas that can positively change the lives of their citizens; provide these mayors and senior municipal staff with the mentorship and skillsets to navigate the political and practical obstacles they may face; and develop communities of practice to promote the exchange of ideas and best practices. Though the format is yet to be determined, it is anticipated that it will likely be centered around an in-person forum at an African host institution and provide follow-up support for dedicated participants. The aim is that over time the initiative can help develop leadership that translates into tangibly better outcomes for Africa’s urban populations.

The Mayoral Initiative has been conceived in conjunction with Fondation Botnar, a Swiss-based foundation that champions the use of AI and digital technology to improve the health and wellbeing of young people in growing urban environments. Fondation Botnar will continue to be an active partner in the development and execution of the African Mayoral Initiative.

The Program Lead Role

We are looking to hire an initial Program Lead who will develop a fully researched and vetted plan for the Initiative, including by researching the existing programs and support available to this sector of leaders to determine whether the initiative is truly additive, non-duplicative, meets a need, and will be impactful. The initial landscape analysis, to be completed within three months of commencement, should include:

  • Surveying the focus of other programs and entities that target this cohort;
  • Researching election cycles, length of terms and mayoral and municipal authority and selection process across Africa;
  • Engaging city stakeholders in the research process to drive inclusive and context-driven program design;
  • Conducting a first-wave assessment of the domains in which mayors and senior municipal staff have the most authority to make transformational change that will impact young people;
  • Identifying key levers/qualities that mayors and senior municipal staff will have to master to achieve their visions, encompassing the political, managerial and technical; and
  • Beginning the process of cataloging success stories from the continent and other regions with similar contexts.

Upon completion of the landscape analysis, the Program Lead should identify and propose one or more partner institutions in Africa to host and co-develop the Initiative. The Program Lead should present options within six months of commencement, with final decision by Fondation Botnar and Big Win in consultation with the Program’s Advisory Board. Beyond providing a physical space, the partner entity should both add prestige to the program as well as genuine additionality to the program design and execution.

In addition to completing the landscape analysis and identifying a partner institution, the Program Lead will be expected to:

  • Develop a pilot curriculum & materials (website, case studies, planning journals)
  • Establish and undertake a process to select an initial cohort of mayors and senior municipal staff and “coaches”
  • Oversee initial branding for the Initiative, most notably a website
  • Develop a fully costed budget for year one
  • Assist in the recruitment of an Advisory Board and faculty/mentors
  • Launch the initiative and initial cohort Forum

Launch is expected to take place circa 1 year from hiring of the Program Lead.

Ideal Candidate Profile

  • Management-level experience relevant to this initiative that encompasses one or more aspects of: nurturing leadership growth; governance on the African continent; urban policy and design; curriculum development.
  • Strong research and presentation skills.
  • Deep knowledge of African cities.
  • Willingness to support leaders’ agendas instead of approaching subject matter prescriptively.
  • Ability to work in a pan-African context.
  • Robust personal networks and ability to interact meaningfully with senior leaders.
  • Highly self-motivated with proven capacity to take initiative and produce quality deliverables within designated timeframes.
  • Ability and willingness to travel internationally frequently.
  • Demonstrated ability to thrive in a fast-paced, evolving environment; juggle and prioritize multiple, competing tasks and demands; work independently with minimal supervision; and show awareness of when to seek supervisory assistance.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills; ability to communicate appropriately and effectively at all levels within and outside the organization and in different cultural contexts.
  • Fluency in English mandatory; language skills relevant to work in sub-Saharan Africa appreciated; e.g. French, Amharic.

The role can be based in any major African city, with international travel required. The candidate will be expected to travel regularly to London to work with the Big Win and Fondation Botnar teams and will spend an extended period of time in London at the outset of the engagement. The role will report initially to the President of Big Win and will receive support from across the Big Win organization. Compensation will be based on experience.

Please submit your CV and covering letter to Please include “African Mayoral Initiative” in the subject line.