Founded by Proximity Designs, Proximity Finance is a groundbreaking farm financing business launched in 2012 in Myanmar. Proximity Finance provides capital to smallholder farmers so they can invest in their farm enterprises and improve productivity and incomes. The company now serves nearly 100,000 borrowers across 1,800 villages in Myanmar. Most of its 350 staff operate out of sixteen branch offices located in rural townships. The parent company, Proximity Designs, was established in 2004 and is a social business focused on the agriculture sector in Myanmar. Its unique platform composed of three businesses -- financing, farm technologies and agronomic advice – is delivering products and services to small farmers in their journey out of poverty. The organization's strong team of Burmese and international talent has a proven record of successfully operating in Myanmar’s challenging environment, a passion for impact and empathy for its rural customers. Proximity Designs’ total operations serve over 500,000 people annually and have reached over 9,000 villages. Its products and services have helped 2.7 million people increase their income by USD 250 or more per year.
About the Job:
Proximity Designs is looking to appoint an entrepreneurial and dynamic leader as General Manager of Proximity Finance. The job requires an exceptional individual who is motivated to build a high performing financing business that directly serves farmers. The General Manager will shape a strong growth agenda and build a robust, legally separate financial institution that delivers superior service to underserved farmers. Well-designed agricultural finance can accelerate financial inclusion and benefit smallholder farmers who have largely been neglected by the microfinance industry. The global demand for smallholder agricultural financing is staggering. Over 270 million smallholder farmers in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia have an unmet financing need of over USD 200 billion to grow their businesses and improve their livelihoods. In Myanmar, there is vast, unmet demand among 6+ million smallholder farm households lacking sufficient capital every season.
This is a unique position for a business leader who is inspired to reshape microfinance to make it more impactful. Over the next five years, there will be significant opportunity for Proximity Finance to create innovative financial services for farmers and scale impact, by coupling loan products with farm technologies and agronomic advisory services offered through the parent company, Proximity Designs. Proximity Finance and its General Manager will be able to access the broader Proximity team’s deep rural knowledge, a history of innovative product design, trusted brand and unprecedented go-to-market capabilities.
Tasks and Responsibilities:
In addition to leading and managing overall operations, the General Manager will focus on the following strategic priorities:
Set a clear strategic growth framework and business plan:
Navigate an ambitious, multi-year growth agenda;
Help formulate and execute an evolving business plan that articulates the enterprise’s growth vision into more specific goals;
Communicate effectively (written and orally) Proximity Finance’s vision for scaling impact in a well-structured, clearly articulated way to internal and external audiences including staff, partners and investors.
Design financing for farmers:
Develop a good grasp of the financing needs of farmers in Myanmar, including the impact of specific financing products and whether they should be scaled as a distinct product or part of an integrated set of solutions for customers;
Guide design and research efforts and look for opportunities to maximize the impact of our financial products on farm households; this can be done by offering complementary farm technologies and agronomy advisory services through Proximity Designs’ subsidiary businesses.
Focus on operational efficiencies including digital technologies:
Engage with Proximity’s technology teams, to implement Proximity Finance’s digital transformation. This will include the implementation of a new core banking system and a robust customer data analytics function;
Focus on equipping loan officers with skills in effective and efficient farm loan underwriting.
Measure social impact:
Guide the evaluation and measurement of Proximity Finance’s impact on customers, to ensure our financial services are creating significant income gains for farmers.
Raise debt capital and equity:
Engage investors around an aggressive growth agenda;
Formulate Proximity Finance’s funding strategy and put together partnerships with aligned investors that involve blended debt financing and equity.
Establish good governance practices:
Work closely with the Board of Proximity Finance to put in place a strong corporate governance foundation, in line with global established good practices and consistent with its social mission.
Wealth of international and commercial (preferably frontier markets) banking/finance experience;
Business acumen in a forward-thinking organization;
Strategic leader with successful management track record gained in a variety of organizations;
Experience in leading an organization and its people through a period of growth;
Aptitude for critical thinking and creative problem solving;
Collaborative and inspirational manager in a challenging and fast-paced environment;
Strong interpersonal skills and gravitas to lead and motivate multi-disciplined and cross-cultural teams;
Willing to go the extra mile;
Motivated to invest in local staff and deepen the organization’s professionalism;
Ability to communicate clearly verbally and in writing.