Initiative Director, Dhaka, Bangladesh - BIGD, Brac University

  • Bangladesh
  • Master's
  • Other advanced degree
Start Date (Earliest):
Language Requirement:
  • English
Length of Commitment:
Three years or more

Position Summary:

Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), based at Brac University in Dhaka, Bangladesh, seeks an Initiative Director for the new research initiative on Digital Financial Services (DFS) and Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE), which has recently been funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We are looking for an entrepreneurial leader with a desire to grow and manage a new team dedicated to finding and funding compelling and rigorous research projects at the intersection of DFS and WEE in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The Initiative Director will build and manage a world-class research initiative and work with the BIGD Executive Director (ED)to further expand BIGD’s global partnerships with researchers, policymakers, and funders. An ideal candidate must have the knowledge of empirical social science methods, a passion for financial inclusion and women’s economic empowerment, and the expertise to bring best practices to institutional processes and build management capacity.

Digital Financial Services and Women’s Economic Empowerment Research Initiative:

There is a growing body of evidence on the welfare impacts of access to DFS and the product and policy design choices unlocked through the digitization of financial services. WEE is a crucial development issue, which DFS can impact through a number of pathways. Understanding these pathways—the causal mechanisms between DFS and WEE—is essential for advancing practical policy recommendations on the effective use of these services to empower women economically. But rigorous and generalizable evidence on the impact of DFS on WEE, particularly on the causal mechanism between the two, is limited. BIGD’s new DFS-WEE Research Initiative seeks to fill this critical evidence gap by funding rigorous research studies by leading researchers for projects across South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. In DFS-WEE Research Initiative, BIGD will manage the selection and funding of compelling research projects, which may be implemented through any qualified field partner, including but not limited to BIGD’s own internal research project teams. An independent Academic Steering Committee (ASC), composed of academics with a strong interest on the issue, will select the proposals for funding.

About BIGD:

By influencing policy and practice through rigorous research and quality academic programs, BIGD aims to promote innovation in governance and development processes towards a more just and prosperous society. Partnering with academics around the world, BIGD conducts multi-method research on governance and development issues in close collaboration with several crucial departments of the Government of Bangladesh, large non-profits such as BRAC, and international organizations such as the World Bank. BIGD oversees BRAC International’s Independent Research and Evaluation Cell (IERC), which works in ten countries across Asia and Africa. BIGD also hosts the Country Office of the International Growth Centre (IGC), London School of Economics (LSE); and the ED) of BIGD heads the IGC Country Office.


Project Management (50%)

  1. Set up and oversee a competitive research fund for the initiative
  2. Lead and train the initiative team to effectively plan for and deliver initiative outputs on time and on budget while adhering to high standards of quality
  3. Develop and maintain an updated project management framework for the initiative
  4. Develop a thorough understanding of the digital financial services and women’s economic empowerment—major trends, key players, and existing and emerging research in this area
  5. Develop and implement strategies for i) promoting the initiative and BIGD globally; ii) circulating Requests for Proposal (RFP) in a manner that drives a strong pipeline of high-quality proposals; iii) monitoring subgrants to ensure accountability; and iv) disseminating research findings for academic and policy uptake
  6. Guide the Research Fellow and Grants Manager to develop processes and tools for efficient, transparent execution of subgrants following best practices in due diligence, implementation monitoring, and reporting
  7. Ensure timely and accurate reporting of initiative activities and finances to donors
  8. Participate as a member of BIGD’s Senior Management Team (SMT), regularly updating the SMT about initiative activities, and integrating the SMT’s guidance

Stakeholder Management and Matchmaking (30%)

  1. Manage relationship with the ASC members to facilitate their effective engagement
  2. Proactively engage potential researchers, encouraging them to apply for funding to the initiative and supporting them to effectively align research proposals with existing gaps in the literature, reflected in the scope of the initiative
  3. Facilitate matchmaking between potential researchers and implementation partners—policymakers, non-profits, multilateral organizations, financial service providers, and commercial enterprises
  4. Personally participate in major global research events and relevant stakeholder events to promote the initiative, facilitate matchmaking, disseminate outputs, and bring best practices to be integrated into BIGD
  5. Function as the main contact point for all external communication regarding the initiative

Fund-Raising (20%)

  1. Work with the ED to develop and implement a strategy for donor engagement and co-financing of the initiative
  2. Build and manage relationships with potential donors
  3. Develop proposals for additional funding opportunities

Qualifications: Required

  1. Master’s in Economics/Public Policy/Development Studies/Business Administration or relevant disciplines
  2. At least five years of relevant experience
  3. Demonstrated leadership and management experience, including hiring, training, and management of staff
  4. Ability to engage effectively in complex partnerships, especially with governments, donors, and research organizations at country and global levels
  5. Good understanding of different methods used in empirical social science, particularly experimental methods
  6. Demonstrated skills in using project management and productivity enhancement software and web platforms
  7. Skills in strategic management—continuous planning, monitoring, assessing, and adapting the initiative strategies and activities, as needed for effectiveness
  8. Demonstrated ability to work across teams
  9. Strong problem-solving skills and ability to work under tight deadlines
  10. Exceptional communication skills, including speaking and writing effectively in English


  1. PhD or PhD coursework in a relevant discipline
  2. Experience in leading/managing research grant-making facilities in the field of empirical social science
  3. Knowledge of and experience in financial inclusion and gender topics generally, including women’s economic empowerment
  4. Sound knowledge of the major trends in the empirical social science community, including the community of Development Economics
  5. Skills in data analysis, econometrics, and data analysis software
  6. Verbal and aural language proficiency in Bangla Team Structure:

The Initiative Director will report to the ED of BIGD and will lead the initiative team consisting of a Research Fellow, a Grants Manager, a Communications Associate based in Dhaka, and a Program Manager based in USA.

Location: Dhaka, Bangladesh

Last date of application: 24 January 2020

How to Apply

Please send your resume (not more than three pages) along with a cover letter, clearly explaining your interest in and qualifications for this position. Send your application to [email protected] and mention “Application for the position: Initiative Director” in the subject line. The selected candidate will be offered a competitive compensation package and the tenure of employment will be up to 46 months. If you have any question, please reach out to [email protected]