Head of Growth

Deadline for Applications
Where to Apply

RTO is an innovative, fast-growing for-profit social venture in Zambia recruiting for someone to join our exec team based in our head office in Lusaka.

We’ve developed a new, effective and efficient asset financing model for farmers and small business owners in rural Africa.  Now we’re looking to expand our product offerings and footprint, cross our breakeven threshold, and start launching in new countries.

The founding team has developed a model that is profitable and scalable.  We’re recruiting for someone to drive growth: to lead efforts to push up our sales volumes; to continue our transition from a scrappy start-up to a machine that runs at scale; and help us engage investors in raising our next round of financing.



RTO distributes and sells farm and small-business assets in rural areas with a package of financing and services that enables small-scale farmers and entrepreneurs to purchase and profit from income-generating equipment.  RTO offers a range of products including irrigation pumps, agricultural processing machines, and retail refrigeration units.  We doubled our sales last year, are posting strong growth this year, and have now distributed $1.2 million in equipment to over 1,300 clients.

In Zambia and much of Africa, farmers & rural entrepreneurs have poor access to the productive assets they want.  They have limited income, and lack product knowledge, reliable local vendors, and options for saving or credit.  RTO’s package of services addresses the obstacles.  RTO provides appropriate, durable equipment and accessories; delivery to clients’ farms or businesses; training on operation and maintenance; and a tailored payment schedule.  Assets are delivered ready for same-day use.  These services enable farmers and rural entrepreneurs to successfully use the assets to grow their income and make their payments to RTO.  RTO’s impact-driven model succeeds when, and because, its clients succeed.

Our operation is built on a field presence that enables us to give our clients a level of service that they’ve never seen before.  Field activities are coordinated through a back-end system that combines mobile technology for field data collection and a cloud-based operations- and client-management system. The combination of our field operation and back-end technology is what enables us to do what town-based banks, MFIs and vendors can’t, and do it profitably.

There is still much to do and to improve, but our model works.  We have three product lines offering credit to farmers and shopkeepers who have no paper records, no bank account, and whom no other creditor would touch, with steadily improving repayment rates already at 94% or higher.  RTO was selected for support from AGRA’s African Enterprise Challenge Fund, we are a Kiva partner, and we have attracted support from the Mulago Foundation and the Whole Foods Market’s foundation, Whole Planet.

We’re aiming to double our sales again this year, with a model that can scale in Zambia and to countries across Africa.



We have been hiring aggressively, and we’ve brought on some great people who are helping us move forward against these priorities faster.  We can feel the business is at a pivotal stage, and that we need to bring on to the management team both more bandwidth and new skills. 

Your job will be to own the growth of the business.  You will play a leading role in taking us from a $500,000 per year startup to a $10 million per year business over the next five years.  Whatever is needed to drive our high-impact model to scale, you will do.

This will mean:

  • Leading our efforts to grow sales volumes in our existing product lines, and to expand new products and sales programs that graduate out of trial stage – through improved marketing, direct supervision of our sales team, increasing client retention, and whatever else gets results.
  • Imposing the discipline and demanding the efficiency needed for our business to run at twice, three times, and ten times its current size.  From our management team to our sales agents, your remit will be to drive the professionalization of RTO, through clear division of responsibility, transparency of results, and rigorous accountability.
  • Contributing to our efforts to raise impact equity funding, to secure the base for our growth in future years.  You will interface with potential investors and tell them our compelling story: what we do, what makes it new and different, how far we’ve come, and how far we’re going to go.

To learn our model and the fundamentals of our business you will start with field work.  Your first projects will put your boots on the ground with our field team, driving development and field trials of new marketing, products, and product lines.  You’ll have an immediate chance to demonstrate your capacity and contribute to progress toward our targets for the year.  And you will learn what’s important fastest by learning it from our clients, our sales agents, and our field staff.  This will equip you to manage similar projects as we bring you up to speed and into our ongoing discussions with potential investors.



We’re looking for the right person to join our tight-knit team, and to bring what RTO needs at a key stage in its growth.  We have some idea of what this person might look like – that’s outlined in the rough list of qualifications below.  We’re open to considering a range of backgrounds; we will be looking for someone with the exceptional vision, drive, skills and experience to bring RTO to its potential.

To take on this role, we think you will need to have:

  • College or higher degree; MBA may be useful
  • 5+ years relevant work experience in a related field, for example micro-finance, asset leasing, product distribution, operations management, sales, marketing, agriculture, credit, risk assessment, entrepreneurship, or impact investment
  • Work experience or background in Africa or similar environment


Experience / expertise in the following would also be valuable:

  • Working in a process-driven, “corporate” environment, or helping to build one
  • Managing teams across cultural boundaries
  • Working with small-scale farmers or business owners in emerging markets
  • Designing or trialing tools/products/routines/projects for field or practical use
  • Startup financing / investment pitching or presentation


But really the skillset and values we’re looking for are:

  • Dedication to impact at scale through a profitable business model: if it doesn’t help our clients then we don’t do it, if it isn’t profitable then we can’t, and if it can’t go big then we won’t
  • The entrepreneur’s focus on results: the combination of relentless drive to get the job done, and taking ownership of the big goals
  • The vision to see how far RTO can go, and the ability to communicate that vision to others
  • Killer smarts, continuous learning, and creative problem-solving
  • Focus on feedback and data-driven decision making
  • The ability to see the best in people, and to bring it out of them – motivating, cultivating, and inspiring the members of your team
  • Being a fun member of a small team, enjoying fast-paced work where things go wrong all the time, and being ready to pick yourself up off the ground, do it again and make it work
  • The desire, willpower and dedication to bring our profitable model for rural asset financing, and a long-term improvement in our clients’ lives, to millions of people across Zambia and beyond



We are an early-stage impact-driven business; compensation here is comfortable but not extravagant.  The low cost of living and a flexible vacation policy will enable you to take advantage of living in a corner of southern Africa with a high quality of life.  Weekend options include Victoria Falls, camping or going on safari in one of the national parks, or taking a short flight to visit Capetown or Zanzibar.

You will also earn the unique satisfaction of building a business that has a direct, highly visible impact on the lives and livelihoods of its low-income rural clients – people you will meet directly in the course of your work.  You will have the opportunity to play a central role in scaling a model that can change the lives of people across rural Africa.  And you will gain exceptional entrepreneurial experience in a fast-growing early-stage social venture: playing a direct role in the development of field and operational routines, as well as the structuring and growth of an effective operation and team.  That’s in addition to leading an equity raise, while moving and meeting people in the social enterprise and impact investing spaces.

Benefits also include coverage for health insurance and travel home each year.  Beyond your starting salary, your compensation will depend on our success, with your help, in raising capital; and will include an equity component to build and reflect your ownership of the business and its success.



Get in touch and let’s talk.  Send us a resume or CV, and a cover letter explaining what you’re looking for here, and how you can demonstrate that you will be effective in this key role.

Attach these to an email to hiring@rtoafrica.com.

This position will be open until filled.  We look forward to hearing from you.