Chief Business Officer: Lending and Advisory Services (CBO)

Root Capital

Root Capital

Posted on Thursday, July 13, 2023

About Root Capital

Root Capital is a Non-Bank Financial Institution (NBFI) founded in 1999 as an NGO with a mission to support the growth of agricultural enterprises so they can transform rural communities. This support takes the form of finance and technical advisory services (“Credit + Capacity”). The businesses Root works with, from farmer cooperatives and associations to local processors and millers, purchase crops such as coffee, cocoa, nuts, or grains from smallholder farmers and in most cases export to global markets. With growth, they become engines of impact that can raise incomes, create jobs, empower women and young people, and preserve vulnerable ecosystems. Root Capital supplies these businesses with vital resources: access to capital, trade and technical partners, financial, management and other forms of capacity building training, and advice and support to enhance bankability, gender equity and opportunity, climate resilience, and youth employment. Root works in hard-to-serve geographies where others don’t go and serves clients whom the local financial institutions are reluctant to support. To date, Root has loaned over $1.8 billion to improve the lives of over ten million people in farming communities.

Root has been a widely recognized pioneer in areas like bankability, access to finance and gender equity, and is building on this success to enhance its focus on climate resilience and youth employment. Root takes pride in its rigorous monitoring and evaluation of projects, in learning from its experience, and in proactively seeking the input of its clients and counterparts to remain “global enough to matter, regional enough to act” with agility and creativity. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Root Capital currently works in over 15 countries in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, and has associated offices in Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Senegal, and Kenya. Root’s global staff is 145 and growing rapidly to address our ambitious 5-year strategy to both broaden and deepen our reach in our target agricultural communities.

Position context and overview

Root’s formula for working with clients focuses on offering three interrelated elements:

  1. Lending: Loans and financial services for agricultural enterprises
  2. Advisory: Technical advice and support services to build client capacity and success
  3. Client-related Business Development (BusDev): A range of related services, including market and country mapping, solicitation and analysis of client and peer feedback, identification and management of pipeline opportunities and business opportunities, and competitiveness analysis.

In order to underline the importance of coordinated delivery of these services to our clients, Root is bringing these three teams under a new “umbrella” department, led by the newly created Chief Business Officer (CBO), who will have a mandate to optimize coordination, collaboration, and mutual reinforcement among the incorporated teams.

The Chief Business Officer will oversee the delivery of integrated financial and capacity-building services to Root’s clients, with a strong emphasis on financial soundness and the employment of evolving financial tools to facilitate client growth, supported by the technical skills necessary to capitalize on financial opportunities. The increased coordination driven by the CBO is also expected to facilitate efficiencies in work practices, support Impact studies and other learning opportunities, identify potential fund-raising and operational partnerships, deliver specific activities supported by donor funds, and systematically achieve targeted portfolio results. A major part of the role will involve setting and managing annual operational goals as well as periodic strategic plans.

The CBO reports to the President/COO, and will be a key member of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT), where they will shape strategic and operational planning and policy-making, manage delivery of core organizational objectives, and represent the organization with external audiences. The CBO will oversee the 3 regional Lending, Advisory, and BusDev teams based in South America, Mexico and Central America, and Africa, and will be supported by the current Senior Directors of Lending and Advisory and the Director of BusDev.

About the opportunity

This is an opportunity to build a new department, to refine its mandate and operations, and to play a leading role in shaping the future of Root as a member of senior management. This position accordingly is for someone who is looking for a leadership role in a dynamic environment and who is:

  • Experienced in lending and the use of supporting technical services – preferably with SMEs in an international environment. Experience with underwriting, trade finance, blended capital, climate finance, intercreditor arrangements, operational and financial partnerships, infrastructure lending, management of lending risk, and negotiation of syndication arrangements is highly desirable. The candidate should also be familiar with the potential for the coordinated use of high-quality technical services focused on capacity building in conjunction with and support of lending activities. Experience in the agricultural sector is a definite plus.
  • Aware of the nature of social-impact oriented portfolio construction. Root is a mission-driven organization with the long-term objective of achieving fundamental positive change in the critical eco-systems within which SME agricultural businesses operate. An ability to understand the required balancing between commercial viability and social impact in the evaluation at both the project and the portfolio level is a key aspect of the CBO position.
  • A strategic thinker, planner, and effective delegator. A key role of the new CBO will be to facilitate development of Root’s commitment to a “distributed authority” business model which places greater authority and responsibility in our regional operations. This requires experience with the interface between central and regional authority, the challenges of an evolving matrix structure, an understanding of the challenges of a complex, multi-national organization, and an ability to manage change. Understanding the dynamics of nonprofits/NGOs and their role in international development and of the challenges inherent in operating in a complex economic ecosystem of financial and technical services is important, as is an ability to think strategically about how best to plan and deploy the resources of Root to achieve its mission objectives.
  • Committed to client service. The CBO must have a mindset of putting clients at the center – and be able to demonstrate how a focus on clients has driven their previous organizations’ success. The CBO will have a strong focus on identifying, prioritizing, and meeting the needs of SME clients for financial and technical services, on working collaboratively, and on developing and utilizing tools to ensure effective communication and feedback between clients and their partners and counterparts in the business environment in which they operate. While taking responsibility for operating with high standards of professionalism, Root seeks to be “client led” in determining the direction of its evolution and the assessment of its success.
  • Grounded in cross cultural experience and inclusivity. Root is a multinational organization, in terms of both clients and staff. A well-grounded appreciation of the different environments in which we operate and the importance of meeting Root’s clients and staff literally and figuratively “where they live” is critical. A significant part of Root’s business is in Latin America, and fluency in Spanish would be a major advantage.
  • Committed to Root’s mission. The successful candidate will be someone who understands and is committed to Root’s mission, while at the same time is able to bring a capacity for constructive critique and a desire to build on Root’s record of creating positive impact to engagement with Root’s management team, staff, clients, peers, and counterparts in delivering global economic development.


In order to be successful in this complex role within a multifaceted organization, the following qualifications and experience are required:

  • At least 12-15 years of experience in finance and/or economic development at an increasingly senior level
  • At least 5 years of experience with lending, with a strong preference for experience in emerging markets with agribusiness, climate action, and access to finance
  • Demonstrated understanding of negotiation and partnership arrangements, including syndications and intercreditor agreements
  • Demonstrated experience with a strong client-centric approach to delivering financial of and technical services
  • High-level financial analysis skills, including an ability to understand and apply information from spreadsheets, portfolio construction models, and other analytic tools
  • Understanding capacity-building tools as an important adjunct to an effective lending program
  • Experience with effective external presentations with peer organizations, corporates, government interlocutors, potential donors, etc.
  • Fluency in written and oral English

In addition, candidates with many of the following attributes will be prioritized:

  • Field experience, ideally in Latin America or Africa
  • Management and program delivery experience in an NGO, NBFI, IFI, or other institution focusing on emerging markets
  • Significant experience with the design and delivery of capacity-building technical services in the field, ideally in an NGO or SME context
  • Experience with developing and/or applying quality assurance processes as management tools
  • Familiarity with designing and/or applying market and sector mapping, competitiveness analysis, and similar tools for assessing and enhancing operational effectiveness
  • Demonstrated experience in identifying, developing, and managing financial and/or operational partnerships
  • Experience in action-oriented strategic planning and practical objective-setting
  • Fluency in Spanish is strongly preferred
  • Authorization to work in the US, Peru,Colombia, Mexico or Costa Rica

CBO Responsibilities

Responsibilities will include:

Departmental Leadership

  • Leading the core financial and capacity-building business of Root
  • Overseeing the operations, objective-setting, and strategic planning of the Lending, Advisory, and BusDev teams
  • Managing for the achievement of both global and departmental performance goals

Client Services Innovation

  • Ensuring a strong focus on client services through targeted feedback, outreach, tracking, etc., and sharing information across teams
  • Supporting the development and implementation of innovative approaches to product and service delivery for clients
  • Ensuring effective collaboration between client-serving teams and other departments within Root, particularly with Risk, External Affairs (EA) and Strategy, Impact, and Innovation (SII)
  • Developing and applying quality assurance measurements across the department

Organizational Leadership

  • Facilitating development of “force multiplying” funding and operational partnerships in the field
  • Contributing proactively to Root’s thought and practice leadership in successfully supporting the economic evolution of its clients
  • Acting as a mentor to emerging global and regional leaders
  • Participating as a member of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) in management of Root and representation of Root at Board meetings and other internal and external activities
  • Actively contributing to Root’s efforts to be a widely recognized and respected thought and practice leader
  • Engaging with regional teams, clients, and counterparts in the field, with travel to the regions and representing Root at relevant conferences and events at least once a quarter.

Initial Areas of Focus

In the first 1-2 years in this role, we expect the initial areas of focus to include:

  • Effectively integrating the various pillars of the new Client Services department
  • Developing effective efficiency and productivity tools to improve services delivery
  • Reviewing and improving key business operations, including systems, policies, and processes
  • Ensuring that the department meets its operational objectives
  • Implementing portfolio construction tools to enhance management’s ability to fine-tune service delivery
  • Developing additional tools for tracking, monitoring, and course-correcting operational issues in the field
  • Articulating a client services approach for internal and external use
  • Participating in Root’s strategy and planning exercises
  • Overseeing recruitment and staff development

Root Capital provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, active military or veteran status, age, physical or mental disability, medical condition, pregnancy (which includes pregnancy, childbirth, medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth, and breastfeeding and expressing breast milk), sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by law. Root Capital is committed to creating a dynamic work environment that upholds our leadership principles of: empowerment, equity, integrity, service, and transparency.

To apply, please submit the form below.