Community-Driven Development Program Specialist - Malawi

Spark MicroGrants

Spark MicroGrants

Lilongwe, Malawi
Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2024


Spark MicroGrants believes in a world where everyone lives with dignity and determines their own positive future. Spark has pioneered a community-driven development model in East Africa, and works with NGO and Government partners to scale adoption and impacts for rural communities - on their own terms. Our model combines facilitated community meetings with a small, discretionary grant to catalyse local action and institution building. Read more about our Approach, Impact and Values on our website.


Spark Microgrants believes in a world where everyone lives with dignity and determines their own positive future. Decades of prescriptive aid have sidelined the poor from the very programs meant to uplift them. We believe in local solutions and catalyzing rural villages facing poverty into action.

At the heart of Spark’s model, the Facilitated Collective Action Process (FCAP), are ‘town-hall’ style weekly meetings, in which women, men, young, old, plan together for their community’s future. Each village elects a leadership committee, establishes a village savings account, and launches a project of their choice. Members receive training on financial management, transparency, leadership, village planning, and advocacy. Each village then receives US$8,000 in seed funds and additional management support to turn their project ideas into reality.

Spark trains partner organizations and works with governments to scale the FCAP as the model of choice to advance social and economic development, improve lives, and secure lasting change. Spark is now active in 500+ villages in 6 countries, improving the lives of over 500,000 people.

As a team, we share a set of common values that shape how we work. These are:

  • Facilitators. We don’t impose; we enable others to generate impact.
  • Community-driven. We are motivated by what is best for the community.
  • Process-centered. The how of what we do is just as important as the what.
  • Authentic. Our vision and values live in everything we do.
  • Dynamic. We seek opportunities and are willing to take risks to serve our community partners better


Spark Microgrants began work in Malawi in February 2022. To test the suitability of the Facilitated Collective Action Process (FCAP) model for the Malawian context, Spark partnered with two Malawian NGOs to co-design and implement the FCAP in 72 communities across Nkhokota and Lilongwe districts. Through these partnerships, Spark and her partners successfully co-designed and implemented Titukulane FCAP, tailored for the Malawian context. Early outcomes showed promising improvements in livelihoods, household savings, and social cohesion. This year, Spark is expanding to the Northern and Southern regions of the country through additional partnerships to design and implement the “Green FCAP,” which incorporates climate-change and environmental considerations into village-level planning processes.

These programs were designed and implemented with oversight and support from Malawi’s Ministry of Local Government, Unity, and Culture (MoLGUC), and other ministries participating in the Program Steering Committee. Following engagements on the FCAP model and learning trips to Rwanda and Indonesia to learn from their experiences with community-driven development, the MoLGUC expressed interest in implementing this approach in Malawi. Representatives from the MoLGUC, Ministry of Finance, and other ministries came together in 2023 to author a position paper on the proposed Village Driven Development (VDD) program for Malawi.

The proposed VDD program aims to empower rural communities to lead their own development initiatives by directly involving them in planning and implementation. It will support communities in identifying, planning, and executing projects that address their specific needs and priorities, with a particular focus on improving access to essential services and fostering local economic development. Building on the country’s forthcoming decentralization policy, the program seeks to devolve authority and resources to the grassroots level, thereby enhancing community participation and ownership. The VDD approach will be designed to integrate and support existing local structures to ensure effectiveness and sustainability.

The GoM is actively seeking potential donors and partners to support the proposed program. This includes seeking potential financing and technical support from the World Bank, which is the largest financier of community-driven development programs, while exploring a range of potential options. As the design and fundraising process for this program develops, Spark is preparing to support and participate in program development. To support these internal and external efforts, Spark is hiring a Community-Driven Development Program Specialist for Malawi. This role involves close collaboration with Spark, the MoLGUC, and donors/partners interested in supporting the program. The consultant will be instrumental in shaping a scalable community-driven development model by integrating insights from global best practices and coordinating with key stakeholders.


The consultant will be responsible for the following tasks:

  • Internal Program Design and Learning:
    • Together with the Spark team, facilitate strategic discussions to inform potential program design and donor engagement strategies. This will build on existing materials and strategies prepared by the Spark team but may include topics like:
      • Defining Spark's objectives for program ownership (e.g. government-led, NGO-led) in the short and longer term and considering feasibility;
      • Assessing existing evidence for model cost effectiveness and impact to support national scale.
    • Conduct thorough research and document best practices and lessons from previous CDD projects and other gold standard community-level programs in Malawi. Map Spark's FCAP model and the Initial VDD approach against the identified best practices/global models to highlight similarities and differences.
    • Together with relevant stakeholders, develop and implement a roadmap for the program design process. The roadmap will reflect initial strategic discussions and mapping on likely sources of financing and is expected to evolve throughout the. Support Spark in identifying and executing entry points for technical assistance to counterparts in relevant ministries to support a high-quality program design.
    • Support the Spark team on the design and implementation of stakeholder consultations (including villages, village governments, local government, etc) to inform program design.
    • Work with Spark team to develop materials and guidelines that align VDD program design and new learnings into Spark’s existing curriculum and operational policies.
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Technical Assistance:
    • Provide expert advice and technical assistance to the MoLGUC and other key stakeholders, ensuring the VDD program aligns with their strategic objectives and compliance requirements.
    • Produce detailed reports and presentations that meet the research and policy needs of the MoLG and relevant funders.
    • Facilitate design workshops and technical discussions for government teams and other stakeholders to align on program goals and design and build capacity and support for the program.
    • Conduct a stakeholder analysis to identify key influencers and potential champions within the government to sustain support for the VDD program, and support the Country Director with relationship management.
  • Donor Engagement and Fund Mobilization:
    • Support the Country Director in identifying and engaging potential donors that align with the goals of the VDD program. Donor engagement will be done in close coordination with, and at the specific direction of, the Country Director.
    • Assist in developing briefing materials, proposals, and presentations to generate interest and support from in-country donor representatives.


At the beginning of the contract, Spark and the consultant will develop an initial work plan with deliverables based on current program design needs. This will be revisited at the start of each month to ensure planned activities are aligned with the program design process. As part of this contract, the consultant is expected to deliver the following categories of outputs.

  • Internal Design and Learning:
    • Program design roadmap, outlining key inputs and milestones for the design and approval process of the VDD program.
    • Research briefs and presentations on best practices and learnings from relevant CDD projects
  • External Program Design and Technical Assistance:
    • Detailed reports and presentations based on MoLGUC or funder requests.
    • Workshop/technical discussion agenda and supporting materials.
  • Donor Engagement and Fund Mobilization:
    • Briefing materials, proposals, and presentations to generate interest and support from in-country donor representatives.
  • Administrative and Reporting:
    • Short monthly progress reports summarizing activities completed each month. To be submitted alongside deliverables and invoice.
    • Updated work plan for the following month, outlining expected activities and associated deliverables.

Initial activities are expected to include:

  • Facilitation of internal strategic discussions to inform potential program design and donor engagement strategies
  • In-country consultations on Malawi’s history with the MASAF program to identify key design elements and lessons that should be considered as part of the VDD program design
  • Assessment of Malawi’s existing planning system at the village-level and its connection to higher-level government planning. This would include both desk research and consultations on existing policies/practices, previous efforts to strengthen village-level planning, and the updated decentralization policy.
  • Support the Country Director with engagements with multilateral and bilateral donor organizations in Malawi about potential support to the program.


Qualifications, experience & skills:

  • 10+ years of experience in international development, with a focus on community-driven development and development project implementation and management.
  • Experience working on CDD programs globally, with a particular focus on program design and implementation at national-scale.
  • Experience with the World Bank project cycle, specifically in the program preparation or implementation stages.
  • Strong facilitation and stakeholder engagement skills, capable of working with diverse and senior teams and achieving consensus among stakeholders. Experience working closely with government counterparts is preferred.
  • Effective communication and coordination skills across a wide range of stakeholders. Experience working with multilateral donors on program design, management and/or fundraising would be an advantage.
  • Strong ability to produce a variety of written outputs in English, including program design communications materials, design briefs, PPT presentations, donor reports.
  • Current resident/based in Malawi.


Job Location: Lilongwe, Malawi Start Date: August 1, 2024

Supervision: The consultant will report to the Malawi Country Director with a dotted reporting line to the Program Development Director on technical work/deliverables.

Duration: One year, with possible extension. Anticipated to be part-time (initial estimates of ten days per month) with the potential to increase to full-time based on availability and design timeline.

Application Closing Date: TBC

How to apply: Please follow the link:


Spark Microgrants provides equal employment and advancement opportunities to all individuals. Employment decisions at Spark are based on merit, qualifications, and abilities. Spark does not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, gender identity, age, disability, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by the law. Spark will make reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with known disabilities unless doing so would result in undue hardship to daily operations.