Chief Business Officer: Lending and Advisory Services (CBO)

Root Capital

Root Capital

Posted on Thursday, July 13, 2023

About the Organization

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.

About the Position

Root’s formula for working with clients focuses on offering four interrelated teams:

  • Lending: Loans and financial services for agricultural enterprises
  • Advisory: Technical advice and support services to build client capacity and success
  • 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.
  • Operations: A suite of systems, processes, and policies designed to support high quality delivery of services to Root’s clients.

In order to underline the importance of coordinated delivery of these services to our clients, Root is bringing these four 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. They are supported by an Operations team which ensures that Root utilizes appropriate systems, processes, and policies to deliver its services.

This is an opportunity to build a new department, to evolve its mandate and operations, and to play a leading role in shaping the future of Root as a member of senior management. 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.

These financial tools will be 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 fundraising and operational partnerships;
  • Deliver specific activities supported by donor funds;
  • 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 will also serve on the Senior Leadership Team, where they will shape strategic and operational planning and policy-making, manage delivery of core organizational objectives, and represent the organization with external audiences.

Reporting to the President/COO, the CBO will manage 6 direct reports and will oversee the 3 regional client services (Lending, Advisory, and Business Development) teams based in South America (SAM), Mesoamerica (MAC), and Africa (AFR), and will be supported by the current Senior Directors of Lending and Advisory and the Director of Business Development.

Responsibilities (including, but are not limited to)

Departmental Leadership

  • Oversee the three regional Lending, Advisory, and BusDev teams based in South America, Mexico and Central America, and Africa, as well as a Client Services Operations team
  • Lead the core financial and capacity-building business of Root
  • Manage the operations, objective-setting, and strategic planning of the Lending, Advisory, and BusDev teams and ensure the achievement of both global and departmental performance goals

Client Services Innovation

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

Organizational Leadership

  • Facilitate development of “force multiplying” funding and operational partnerships in the field
  • Contribute proactively to Root’s thought and practice leadership in successfully supporting the economic evolution of its clients
  • Act as a mentor to emerging global and regional leaders
  • Participate 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 contribute to Root’s efforts to be a widely recognized and respected thought and practice leader
  • Engage 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, the initial areas of focus will 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

Candidate Requirements

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

  • Deep experience with lending in emerging markets. At least 12-15 years of experience in positions of increasing responsibility, with at least 5 years of experience lending; there is a strong preference for experience in emerging markets with agribusiness, climate action, and access to finance. Field experience, ideally in Latin America or Africa, is preferred.
  • 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 have an understanding of capacity-building tools as an important adjunct to an effective lending program and the ability to oversee 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 plus.
  • Experience serving on an executive leadership team. 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, multinational organization, and an ability to manage change. The CBO will also work with the leadership team to develop action-oriented strategic plans and set key objectives.
  • 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 ecosystems 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. The ideal candidate has significant experience with the design and delivery of capacity-building technical services in the field, ideally in an NGO or SME context. Management and program delivery experience in an NGO, NBFI, IFI, or other institution focusing on emerging markets is preferred.
  • A strategic thinker, planner, and effective delegator. The CBO must have a robust understanding of the dynamics of nonprofits/NGOs and their role in international development and of the challenges inherent in operating in a complex economic ecosystem. and an ability to think strategically about how best to plan and deploy the resources of Root to achieve its mission objectives.
  • 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.
  • Demonstrated success building partnerships. The CBO must be able to identify, develop, and manage financial and/or operational partnerships. The CBO should have familiarity with designing and/or applying market and sector mapping, competitiveness analysis, and similar tools for assessing potential partnerships. In addition, the ability to forge strong relationships, while including staff and other key stakeholders is paramount.
  • Capacity to lead complex negotiations. Demonstrated success negotiating partnerships, including syndications and intercreditor agreements. Fundamental to developing and negotiating these partnerships are strong financial analysis skills, including an ability to understand and apply information from spreadsheets, portfolio construction models, and other analytic tools.
  • Track record of centering client needs. 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. 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.
  • Exceptional communication skills. The CBO will be one of the leading external voices for Root Capital. The CBO must be able to deliver effective external presentations with peer organizations, corporates, government interlocutors, potential donors, etc. Fluency in written and verbal English is required. Fluency in Spanish is strongly preferred. Demonstrated experience in identifying, developing, and managing financial and/or operational partnerships.
  • Track record of managing strong, diverse teams. The team is spread across multiple geographies and delivers a range of services and supports. The CBO must be above to lead, coach, and hold accountable all staff. Experience with developing and/or applying quality assurance processes as management tools is also a benefit.
  • Commitment 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.


This role can be located in the United States, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico or Peru. At least 20% of domestic and international travel. The CBO will be required to attend 1 of 4 yearly board meetings in person; additionally folks will be required to attend a yearly US retreat and a Global retreat.

Compensation and Benefits

The mid-point salary for this position will be $225,000 for applicants based in the United States. Compensation for candidates based outside the United States will be based on local currency pay grades and associated salary ranges determined separately for each country in which Root Capital operates. Please note that the exact salary will depend on prior work experience and the assessment of one’s fit for the role.

Additionally, Root provides a suite of competitive benefits including:

  • Benefits that local labor mandates
  • Private health and dental insurance
  • Vacation time off
  • Sick & Excused time off
  • Holidays (per country)
  • Retirement Plans
  • Life insurance
  • End of year break - last week of December (6 days)
  • Mid-year break (3 days)

Qualified individuals, click here to apply.

Root Capital is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will be considered for employment without unlawful discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, prior record of arrest or conviction, or current employment status.

On-Ramps is deeply committed to equity. We believe social change happens when people with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and identities come together with a common purpose. We’re partnering with the team at Root Capital to build a diverse team. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply.