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Senior Programme Officer - Science Innovation Translation and Entrepreneurship (SITE)

Deadline: Friday, June 2, 2023


The Science for Africa Foundation is a non-profit, public charity organisation that supports strengthens and promotes science innovation in Africa. The goal of the SFA Foundation is to address the continent’s most pressing developmental needs by generating scientific knowledge that solves problems and informs decision-making.

We serve the African research ecosystem by funding excellent research and innovation ideas; enabling interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers, building and reinforcing environments that are conducive for scientists to thrive and producing quality research that generates new, locally relevant knowledge.

The SFA Foundation takes a holistic approach to the development of science. Our programmatic initiatives are crafted to cater to the entire science ecosystem and span across the value chain from early discovery sciences to translation sciences and target cross-cutting gaps.

Our commitment to strengthening the entire research ecosystem is reflected in the creation of major science and innovation programmes implemented through a well-established grant-making scheme, advocacy and promotion of scientific excellence, emphasis on intra-Africa collaboration and evidence-based policy-making mechanisms.

One of these programmes is the Grand Challenges Africa programme implemented under the Science Innovation and Entrepreneurship platform.


The Grand Challenges family of initiatives engages innovators from around the world to solve science, technology and innovation, health and developmental challenges. Grand Challenges initiatives are united by their focus on fostering innovation, directing research to where it will have the most impact, and serving those most in need. The challenge also encourages partnerships that bring together investigators from diverse organisations, including for-profit institutions, non-governmental organisations, academic and health research institutions, foundations, and civil society groups. Today, a variety of funding partners use “Grand Challenges” to accelerate research, creating an expanding network of funding and research partnerships spanning diverse topics.

The Grand Challenges Africa (GC Africa) programme promotes Africa-led scientific innovations to help countries better achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by awarding seed and full grants to the continent’s most impressive solutions. It supports big, bold impactful innovative ideas that have the potential for impact, scale and sustainability. Previous areas of work include but will not be limited to maternal and neonatal health, antimicrobial resistance, drug discovery, data sciences, water sanitation and hygiene, including food security and nutrition.


Position Title

Senior Programme Officer – Science Innovation Translation and Entrepreneurship



Reporting To

Programme Manager

Position Location

Nairobi, Kenya

The overall aim of the Senior Programme Officer (Science Innovation Translation and Entrepreneurship) role is to deliver work within the Science Innovation and Entrepreneurship Platform including the Grand Challenges Africa programme. The work entails doing activities within the strategy through the full programme cycle and making sure that they achieve impact. The SPO has as his/her primary responsibility to deliver project activities within this portfolio, support research networks and consortia, liaise with comparative research networks, as well as special initiatives and projects.

This may include but is not limited to the following aspects:

  • Leveraging sector-specific knowledge and skills in the effective implementation of programmes and the development of new initiatives
  • Supporting the development and implementation of pre-award, award and post-award processes related to programme activities
  • Including institutional strategies like gender equity diversity and inclusion; monitoring, evaluation and learning; risks assessment and management; good finance grant practice; budget control and reviews, open access publishing; community and public engagement
  • Organise and participate in environment scanning and scientific meetings related to the projects they implement and be involved in internal and external capacity development interventions/promote contacts with researchers, professional associations and regional organisations
  • Deliver through matrix reporting and work culture with other colleagues in the organization - financial and programmatic reporting, impact measurement and reporting, due diligence reviews on budget holding institutions
  • Support the preparation of research and funding proposals on themes connected to his/her areas of expertise as may be requested by the line manager
  • Where appropriate, liaise with funding organisations under the direction of the line manager and any other senior executive management team member.

The post holder will also be expected to work in close collaboration with other SFA Foundation-managed programmes through the provision of operational and research support in order to achieve the overall strategic goals.


We are looking for a self-driven individual capable of delivering the below under the supervision of the line manager;

Scientific and technical abilities

1. Participate in the programme management cycle by contributing to;

Planning and budgeting

  • Project-specific planning and budgeting
  • Lead in effective technical management, including using evidence to enhance program learning and development, seeking out and implementing solutions which achieve a good mix of quality and effectiveness for the least outlay, in line with grant and donor requirements.
  • Working closely with the finance function on prudent financial management to ensure Value For Money (VFM) throughout the programme cycle
  • Ensuring that technical outputs throughout the program cycle, including reports, are of high quality and respond to donor guidelines and requirements.
  • Preparing consolidated technical and financial reports from grantees. This involves reviewing reporting templates, liaising with grantees’ and M&E teams during reporting periods to support their reporting needs, consolidating the reports for internal use and for sharing with relevant funders, and data mining from reports to prepare outcomes and impact reports.
  • Monitoring and evaluating scheme outcomes and impacts and in liaison with the Communications function sharing the outcomes and learnings with key stakeholders
  • Liaising and managing relationships with key stakeholders (other SFA Foundation funding and delivery partners, relevant steering groups, and partners throughout the continent with support from the Communications function to amply SFA Foundation work
  • Support in identifying, tracking and mitigating programme management risks and issues and work with the Programme Support office in the management of scheme activities and grant awards.

2. Contribute, as required, to the development of evidence-based positions on research and innovation policy issues linked to the core work.

3. Make recommendations of strategic areas of investment under the Science Innovation and Entrepreneurship Platform in time, within budget and at the required quality

4. Assist in the provision of secretariat support to relevant steering or expert groups

5. Assist in utilising the outputs, networks and relationships created through the Science Innovation and Entrepreneurship programme to further the organization’s strategic objectives

Delivering the Science Research & Innovations Strategy

  1. Perform programme-relevant research to inform the development, implementation and delivery of the projects falling within the portfolio
  2. Work in close collaboration with the M&E team to identify, collate, track, assess quality, analyse and validate, and report on programme-related data
  3. Identify and build relationships with relevant stakeholders involved in relevant areas of research and research leadership, capacity development but not limited to universities and other research institutions. This may include relevant African government departments and policymakers, Africa-based and international Think Tanks, and intergovernmental organisations etc
  4. Prepare reports, articles and presentations during programme inception meetings, annual grantee meetings and site visits.
  5. Track and perform relevant analyses on various aspects of programme implementation to identify and address important challenges to ensure effective and efficient programme delivery

Programme Support

  1. Represent SFA Foundation programmes at internal and external meetings when required.
  2. Work closely with SFA Foundation Communications Manager to develop a media and campaign Strategy for projects within the portfolio to ensure maximum exposure and coverage on the continent and beyond and to generate keen interest from potential stakeholders.
  3. Supervise relevant administrative team duties in support of the projects within the portfolio work with SFA Foundation professional services team members e,g procurement team to monitor deliverables (including supplies), and being the contact person for projects within the programme.
  4. Plan and organise relevant workshops and other activities in furtherance of the objectives of the projects within the portfolio.
  5. Develop a risk management framework for the programme, including developing and maintaining a risk register for the programme and a system to document, track and ensure programme issues and challenges are resolved in a timely manner.
  6. Support other SFA Foundation programmes and departments in the delivery of their mandate, especially for cross-cutting programmatic activities when requested.

Key Results and Outcomes Area

  1. All assigned activities delivered within budget, on time and consistent with commitments to funders and agreed targets.
  2. Schemes delivered following best practices in scheme management, steering group secretarial support, and using the Grants Management System with complementarity with the Programmes Support Office effectively.
  3. Strong working relationships with all key stakeholders, including staff, high-level global scientists, other delivery partners, and beneficiaries.
  4. Maintaining an attractive profile of scientific activities throughout the programme cycle.
  5. Strong knowledge of SFA Foundation policies and procedures and their application in grants management.


  • A PhD degree in a relevant Science/Biomedical/Biosciences/Health research field obtained over the past 10 years; or an MD with proven research leadership qualities and experience in carrying out key research work for priority health agendas.
  • A proven record of research capabilities in health/biomedical/biosciences research as demonstrated by peer-reviewed publications and other quality outputs.
  • At least 3 years experience working in research/research leadership capacity development programme design and implementation on the African continent.
  • A professional qualification and relevant experience in large-scale programme/project management or training in research administration, ethics, leadership or related will be an added advantage.


  • Ability to use their scientific skills and experience in other fields of science.
  • Excellent presentation and public speaking skills
  • Ability to interact with and manage multiple stakeholders with diverse interests.
  • Proficiency in standard office and collaboration tools such as Microsoft Office, SharePoint
  • Possess well-developed interpersonal skills and the ability to network and communicate across different levels of the organization and with external partners.
  • Able to perform work independently with minimal supervision and participate as a team member.
  • Strong attention to detail and maintain a timely and efficient workflow.
  • Strong planning, organisational skills and ability to work under pressure.
  • Ability to multi-task and prioritize work amidst competing demands.
  • Have integrity, confidentiality and respect for self and other team members.
  • Project/Programme management skills (essential) and people management.
  • Risk management, financial management and financial governance.
  • Proficient in English. Working knowledge of any other AU language like Arabic, French, or Portuguese will be an advantage.


Should you meet the competencies above, please submit a cover letter and a current Curriculum Vitae not exceeding 5 pages including three professional referees to [email protected]

The cover letter should be no more than two pages long and explain why you are interested in this post and how your skills and experience make you a good fit. The documents should be saved in MS Word or PDF in the following format: Your First Name-Your Last Name-Document Name-Date (mmyy) e.g., DeusWan-CV-092022-SFA
Foundation or Deus-Wan-CoverLetter-092022-SFA Foundation


SFA Foundation has a commitment to safeguarding people and our environment and this forms part of our background checks.