Jobs – Product Development Coordinator at Akola Project

Job Title: Product Development Coordinator

Akola Project is a non-profit, social business that empowers women by facilitating vocational training, employment opportunities, savings and loans associations, education programs, support groups and leadership development. Akola Project Mission is to empower marginalized women to transform the physical and spiritual livelihoods of their families and communities.

Job Summary: The Product Development Coordinator will be responsible for sourcing all design materials, assisting designers with creating trending, cost-effective and feasible prodcuts, and for transitioning approved designs into production. They will also manage material libraries, cost of goods, product line sheets, bills of materials and quality control specifications. The Product Development Coordinator will also be responsible for maintaining and improving profit margins and troubleshooting material quality or costing issues. They will also manage any procurement staff or contractors. This position will require a strong connection with the mission of Akola Project and a willingness to give a complete effort for the organization to meet its production, sales and developmental goals.

Key Duties and Responsibilities: 

1. Relationships:

  • Build and grow relationships with local suppliers of craft materials
  • Serve as an advocate for Akola Project, promoting the vision, mission, and goals of the organization amongst the community at all times to ensure Akola Project maintains a positive public standing
  • Seek understanding with and unified leadership alongside the Akola Project leadership team in the spiritual development, social development and economic development of Akola women

2. Product Development:

  • Receive new designs from US-based designers and ensure that they are able to be produced by Akola Project facilities and women
  • Photograph all new designs and prepare online surveys for voting and feedback from the design committee
  • Serve as the middle man between US-based designers and the Uganda-based production team to ensure that new designs can be made in Uganda at the quality expectations of the designer and Akola Project
  • Work closely with Uganda-based production team to produce functional samples of new products, per the designs given
  • Send design samples to Akola Project’s US office for review and approval
  • Provide the Supply Chain Manager with all required material information, product specifications and quality control information to assist designs to transition into production
  • Create detailed costing information for all products and maintain up-to-date costing worksheets for all product lines
  • Participate in brainstorming for new product lines
  • Assist with writing and maintaining technical specifications, marketing product descriptions and care instructions for all products
  • Develop new designs and samples per designers’ requests

3. Material Sourcing:

  • Research and source East African materials to be used in Akola Project jewelry, handbag and home good lines
  • Research and source internationally when quality and/or cost effective-materials are not available in East Africa
  • Oversee all raw material-related processes and programs, including material technical specifications, and contracted procurement staff
  • Independently explore local suppliers and resources that can be used in design and production
  • Manage sourcing, purchasing, inventory planning and delivery logistics to achieve low cost of goods, minimize stock outs and maximize inventory turns
  • Use material sourcing to establish ways to differentiate Akola Project products from competitors
  • Work with US-based designers to forecast new trending colors, functions, textures and designs and incorporate this into material sourcing
  • Create design kits with newly sourced materials to be sent to US-based designers

4. Material Management:

  • Create and maintain material libraries for the Uganda and US offices
  • Create and maintain a cost of goods tracking system for all incoming materials
  • Troubleshoot any material costing issues to maintain and improve profit margins
  • Troubleshoot any material sourcing or material quality issues
  • Work with production/sales to repurpose old materials and products
  • Fulfill design projects as determined by Country Director and Design Committee

5. Administration:

  • Keep records of all contacts, designs, documents, agreements, and any other necessary records pertaining to Akola Project
  • Track all expenses with appropriate supporting documentation including contracts, receipts and invoices
  • Provide written activity reports to the Country Director upon request
  • Assist other Akola Project staff as needed
  • Perform any other duties as assigned

Qualifications, Skills and Experience: 

  • The applicant should hold a Bachelor’s degree from four-year college or university in business management, marketing or related field
  • Professional experience in product development, supply chain management or related field
  • Exceptionally organized and high attention to detail
  • Proven ability to think analytically and plan strategically
  • Creative and resourceful; able to ‘think outside of the box’
  • Advanced proficiency in MS excel essential.
  • Past exposure and experience working in a cross cultural context preferred (ideally within an African nation)
  • Non-profit/small business experience preferred

How to Apply for the job: 

All candidates should send their applications via e-mail with subject line “Application: Product Development Coordinator” to Erica Hall at erica@akolaproject.org. Applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview. Please include the following;

  • Resume/CV highlighting your education and work experience
  • 1-2 page cover letter that outlines (1) Why you are interested in the position, the mission/vision and Uganda specifically; (2) Relevant work experience for the position and why you believe you are the best candidate for the job. Be sure to cite specific personal characteristics and work experiences that you feel make you qualified to fulfill the required responsibilities; (3) The role your faith plays in your work.
  • Name and contact information for at least one personal and one professional reference
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