Chief Operations Officer

Deadline for Applications
Where to Apply

SiembraViva, a fast growing foodtech social enterprise, and Acumen’s first investment in Latin America is hiring a COO to help us scale operations across Colombia. After three years, SiembraViva is now at the growth stage of our start-up journey and this position is significant to helping us reach scale. The COO will be responsible for building the systems and processes that allow us to work with countless more farmers while expanding and improving our fulfillment platform to help us offer convenient and quality products and services across Colombia and Latin America.

About You

Above all this role requires an individual who:
1) believes that the Earth should not be taken for granted and that the potential of small-scale farmers is constrained by current systems that keep them poor
2) is passionate about efficiency and understands that the nitty-gritty of day to day operations can make or break a start-up’s ability to scale.

In particular;
-You are a very fast learner. You are naturally entrepreneurial and you may have even run a start-up before, or at least have worked in one
-You are addicted to data and evidence-based decision making. You are an excel guru, and can make sense of relationships between multiple and diverse pieces of data and effectively make decisions. But you are also not afraid of the ambiguity of conflicting pieces of data and you can find answers outside of the worksheet and in the real world by effectively observing, hypothesizing, and questioning why things are the way they are. You are not debilitated by ambiguity.
-You have exceptional self-management skills. You can create your own work-streams, measure your progress, and ask for help when you need it. Above all you know what to spend time on, you are hyper-efficient and passionate about making SiembraViva hyper-efficient.
-You are an exceptional manager. You have fantastic listening skills, and people enjoy working with you. You can coach your staff to solve problems effectively, but you also challenge them to be their best selves. You are driven by results yet you are empathetic.
-You love getting your hands dirty. In the morning you can effectively describe your plans to launch a new operations location to the CEO, and in the afternoon you can be on the warehouse floor supporting the fulfillment team until 11pm because of an unexpected problem with sourcing. You are flexible.
-You effectively balance the big and the small pictures. You see the logical consequences of each operations decision on all functions of the organization from sales, to customer service, to finance, and technology development. You are a details person. In retail, detail is king!
-You are passionate about social impact and believe in the power of private sector social enterprises to efficiently address the systemic constraints that keep people poor.

About the COO Position
Start Date – by September 1, 2016
Location – Medellin, Colombia to start

In the role of COO you will be an executive member of the SiembraViva team reporting directly to the CEO. The COO will need to get their hands dirty while also periodically retreating to the balcony to see how all components of the organization interact. SiembraViva has a complex business model that requires seamless flow of information from production to fulfillment, and the COO will sit in the middle of this data flow, continually analysing results and implementing operations improvements. You will oversee a production team of at least two people and an ever-expanding group of farmers, and a warehouse operations team of at least five people to start. You will also be responsible for determining what is needed to expand SiembraViva’s model to other major cities in Colombia and Latin America.

Specific Responsibilities: 
-Improve convenience to a level of what the market is demanding – shorter and shorter delivery times, consistent great product offering, flawless e-commerce experience
-Reducing stock-outs to less than 3% and institutionalizing processes to maintain this level
-Reducing produce waste to less than 2% and institutionalizing processes to maintain this level
-Significantly improve sourcing and fulfillment by developing a comprehensive data system that integrates field data with warehouse inventory data and is updated in real-time. Overcome the challenges of working with dispersed small-scale farmers that often have no cell-phone network and may be illiterate to have production data on hand in real-time.
-Continually updating our safety stock calculations based on historical sales and inventory and sales projections
-Managing all operations from production to fulfillment. This includes managing the production team and the warehouse operations teams and creating seamless integration between both
-Working with production team to translate quarterly sales projections into planting schedules three months in advance
-Creating new processed products to minimize food waste for example broccoli florets, fresh cut fruit and salads.
-Piloting and hopefully expanding product and service offerings in Bogota, a market 5 times the size of our current market, Medellin. Create operations scale-plan
-Managing the production team to scale implementation of our EcoSiembra Production Technology to all our farmers and determining how to make this technology cheaper
-Managing the growth of the SiembraViva University (farmer field school) network
-Working with the customer service team to rapidly and effectively translate customer feedback into operations improvements
-Owning operational KPIs, ensuring they are met and adjusted when needed

-5+ years professional work experience and at least 2 years of operational leadership experience in a rapidly changing start-up environment or large corporation
-Experience managing a dispersed, diverse, and large team with people at all levels of the organization
-Cross-cultural management skills – if you are not Colombian you have significant management experience in a culture different from your own
-Scaling experience in a start-up, preferably in Latin America, even better in Colombia
-Supply chain management experience, preferably in a food-related or fast-moving consumer goods industry
-Experience working in an e-commerce business is highly valuable
-Experience with systems mapping, process design, and implementation and in particular experience with lean start-up, business model generation, and value proposition design frameworks
-Strong communication skills (written and oral)
-Proven ability to influence behavior change across a variety of levels of the organization from senior managers to middle managers to warehouse floor staff
-Adaptive leadership experience
-Microsoft Excel mastery
-MBA or engineering degree
-Languages: You must be fluent in Spanish to be effective in this role. English is an asset.

-At least 1 year experience working in developing communities, preferably in Latin America
-Experience working in the agriculture sector, particularly in smallholder farmer development

Compensation & Benefits

Salary and benefits are commensurate with experience. Employee Stock Operations are available for this position.


For consideration apply by June 30th, 2016 with a CV and a cover letter answering the following questions. Please email your application with the subject line: LastName_FirstName_COOPosition. Interviews will be held on a rolling basis until the position is full.

Cover Letter Questions (750 words total):
1) SiembraViva is in the rapidly changing foodtech industry. What can we learn from companies like Sprig, Blue Apron, and Relay Foods who are succeeding in the USA?
2) Please share a time when you lead a complex operational change in a rapidly changing organization? What was the result?
3) Based on your understanding of SiembraViva’s business model, what do you think is our biggest operational barrier to scalability? Why?

Additional Information

SiembraViva is cultivating a healthy revolution in Colombia. We partner with resource-poor small-scale farmers to help them convert from conventional to organic agriculture and provide them organic inputs, technical assistance, transportation logistics and guaranteed markets. We then sell their produce via an e-commerce platform to high-margin, urban Colombian consumers. We’re working to solve two interconnected problems in the Colombian food system.

On the supplier side; Colombian small-scale farming is highly risky and often unrewarding as value chain intermediaries reap 80% of the value of what is sold to consumers. With market prices for fruits and vegetables often below the cost of production farmers are unable to improve their livelihoods. This market price volatility makes it impossible for farmers to plan for their future which significantly reduces their household’s quality of life. Furthermore because of years of chemical inputs use, soil health is terrible which has resulted in a dependence on chemical inputs to increase yields. This is not only financially costly but is also creating a health epidemic in the country-side.

On the consumer side; Although consumers are willing to pay for organic fruits and vegetables in Colombia, access is very low due to weak governmental regulations for chemical inputs-use and the challenging Colombian growing environment. As a result the average Colombian diet is very unhealthy.