We’re on a mission to design a better world. And we want your help.

IDEO.org is nonprofit design consultancy. We’re a tight-knit group of designers, strategists, builders, writers, and connectors fueled by curiosity, optimism, and a passion for social change. Our work tackling some of the world’s toughest design challenges takes us all over the world—from communities across Asia and Africa to neighborhoods in our own backyards.

Job Description

IDEO.org has an opportunity for a Director of Partnerships to join our Nairobi studio. As part of a dynamic and multi-disciplinary team, you’ll help IDEO.org build and maintain partnerships within our Nairobi studio and develop the strategy for the type of work the studio will do going forward. This role goes beyond simply business development - you will be responsible for identifying opportunities, pursuing the right partners, bringing in compelling and impactful work, and creating great transitions for our teams who work on these engagements, including maintaining the relationships in the long run. 

As the Director of Partnerships you will work closely with the Nairobi studio’s Managing Director to co-develop, shape, and execute the organization’s strategy on the continent. This will mean engaging with a broad set of players in the social sector --  from large-scale funders and foundations to smaller grassroots organizations and social entrepreneurs across Africa. You’ll build strategic relationships, develop compelling proposals, bring in edge-pushing work, support design teams on the ground, and ensure that the solutions we create lead to real and lasting impact in the lives of the people we’re designing with and for.  

You’re a quick learner, enthusiastic, detail-oriented and collaborative—ready to roll up your sleeves and join a team that’s helping to bring human-centered design to some of the world’s toughest challenges. While you may not be a trained designer, you embrace creative processes and are eager to explore new ways of building solutions that meet the financial and economic needs of those living in poor and vulnerable communities. Ideally, you have a background in a field relevant to IDEO.org’s work such as in health, urban planning, financial inclusion, agriculture, social enterprise, or entrepreneurship.

This role is one where you will have the opportunity to go deep and gain expertise on a broad set of issues. You’ll gain deep exposure to the design process, ramping up quickly through on-the-ground fieldwork.  You’ll also have opportunities to showcase the studio’s work to a wider audience, where you’ll represent this way of working through creative storytelling and compelling visioning.

You will


  • Lead the development of the studio’s partnership strategy 
  • Collaborate with the Managing Director to support building the Nairobi studio pipeline including a balanced portfolio of projects
  • Build IDEO.org’s external network to surface opportunities and create new value for IDEO.org and partners or potential collaborators
  • Gain a deep understanding of and empathy for partners’ mission, business, and strategy in order to identify ways IDEO.org's network can support them and proactively begin to connect them to resources
  • Bridge partnership development and project launch and communicate critical information about the project/partner, like the scope, to position teams for success on a project
  • Support the stewardship of projects once they’ve been handed off from the design team back and look for opportunities for further engagement 
  • Serve as the primary author of proposals for the studio and work with IDEO.org’s Finance team to process grant agreements in a timely fashion
  • Collaborate with the Director of Impact to continually improve the studio’s M&E frameworks and systems for collecting, analyzing, and reporting data 

Strategy and Operations:

  • With the MD, develop and operationalize annual goals for IDEO.org Nairobi
  • Work with the MD to define IDEO.org’s talent needs and talent acquisition plan 
  • Partner with the MD on studio leadership activities and decision-making (talent, administration, and organizational planning)
  • Support the CFO & MD in the development and analysis of annual budget and plan

You have:

  • Rigor. An MBA degree or similar depth of experience, and 5+ years of professional experience
  • Great empathy, listening skills, and negotiation skills. You enjoy thinking about various scenarios to benefit multiple parties
  • A passion for writing. You know how to quickly research a topic to unearth the role of design in solving a sector’s problem - and to tell the story in a compelling way. 
  • Great presentation skills. You have the ability to present to a boardroom, a small NGO, as well as the people we aim to serve
  • Project management skills. You are able to pull together a proposal by writing, coordinating across a broad set of people, and communicating to partners. 
  • Deep expertise. You have demonstrated expertise in one or more of the following topics: Financial inclusion, digital financial services, agriculture, or workforce development
  • A love of design. You have an understanding of the value of HCD and can articulate how it can bring value to a particular challenges


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