To catalyze the Kenyan tech community’s growth.


Mobile Application Laboratory Manager1

  • Company: infoDev
  • Deadline: Friday 19th November 2010
  • Location: Nairobi
Job Description

infoDev is a research, capacity building and advisory program, coordinated and served by an expert Secretariat housed in the Financial and Private Sector Development Vice Presidency of the World Bank Group. It helps developing countries and their international partners use innovation and information and communication technologies (ICT) effectively as tools for poverty reduction and sustainable social and economic development. infoDev is a thought leader in technology-enabled small business incubation. infoDev’s global incubation network reaches more than 300 business incubators, more than 20,000 small and medium enterprises and has helped create over 200,000 jobs across 87 developing countries. 


From 2010-2012, infoDev is implementing an ambitious program entitled “Creating Sustainable Businesses in the Knowledge Economy”. This program, jointly organized by infoDev, the Government of Finland and Nokia, will undertake a range of activities including establishing regional mobile applications laboratories; linking mobile entrepreneurs via a social networking initiative; using business incubation initiatives to stimulate small business creation; assisting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to seek new markets overseas; ensuring that SMEs have appropriate access to finance; starting international working groups for ICT and agribusiness entrepreneurs and incubators; and creating resources for project leaders to incorporate ICTs and innovation systems into agriculture development projects. This position is one of a number of short- and extended-term consultant positions that are being recruited specifically for this program. 


Scope of work 

A major component of the Creating Sustainable Businesses program is the establishment of a series of five regional mobile application laboratories, in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. These “mLabs” will facilitate demand-driven innovation by grassroots entrepreneurs so that breakthrough low-cost, high-value applications can be developed. Each mLab will be a platform for developing the technical skills, business nous and personal relationships needed to build scalable mobile solutions into thriving businesses that address social needs. As well as providing state of the art equipment, the labs will offer technical training and workshops and connect developers and entrepreneurs with potential investors, academic experts, and public sector leaders. 


The mLabs will be focal points run and used by Africans working to increase the competitiveness of innovative enterprises working in mobile content and applications. There will be one lab each in East and Southern Africa where local and regional companies, technologists and experts can collaborate to develop locally relevant applications that meet user demands. 


The following two hosts of the African Regional Mobile Application Laboratories have been recently selected: 

  • The *iHub_ consortium, comprising Nairobi’s iHub, eMobilis, the World Wide Web Foundation and the University of Nairobi’s School of Computing and Informatics, was chosen to host the East Africa lab. 
  • In South Africa, the Meraka consortium, comprising the CSIR Meraka Institute, Innovation Hub, Innovation Lab and Ungana-Afrika, will collaborate to host the Southern Africa lab. 


The selected consortiums are responsible for successful and sustainable implementation of the mLabs, which are expected to be fully operational by the end of 2010 and should generate at least eight applications each in their first two years. Future mobile applications labs are planned for Eastern Europe and Asia. 

More information about the selected African host consortiums can be found at 



The main objective of the position of the Mobile Application Laboratory Manager is to lead and manage the establishment and growth of the regional mLab, as a self sustaining initiative hosted by the *iHub_ consortium, and to manage the implementation and operations of the mLab, including the technical and administrative activities. 

The incumbent will be responsible for the operation of all aspects of the mLab development including training and accreditation, certification, competition for ideas, business mentoring, access to finance and markets, development and revision of technical standards, testing procedures and laboratory policies; providing technical support to mLab operations and consulting with stakeholders on mobile technology related matters. 


In particular, the mLab manager will: 

  • Drive the development of the initial Business Plan based on a sustainable business model and stated objectives of the mLab. 
  • Identify and secure appropriate revenue/funding for implementation of the mLab Business Plan so that financial and growth objectives are met. 
  • Oversee the implementation and establishment of the mLab according to the Business Plan by ensuring that strategic and financial objectives are met; plan continual development and growth of the mLab over time 
  • Build and manage strategic stakeholder relationships with industry, academia and government partners to enable the delivery of mLab services and to position the mLab as a key player in the mobile space in Southern Africa. 
  • Develop the necessary relationships with implementation partners in Kenya, Africa and internationally to ensure that the benefits of the mLab are not just local but also regional and global, and to collaboratively develop best-practice knowledge of how to establish and operate Mobile Application Laboratories. 
  • Ensure that the mLab is well presented and its services are well marketed. 
  • Ensure that mLab services are effective and efficient, by monitoring and evaluating service delivery and taking corrective action where necessary. 
  • Provide leadership in the implementation of the mLab including the appointment and management of staff and/or consultants; financial oversight; operations oversight etc.
  • Manage mLab service processes and practices for mobile entrepreneurs including the processes for identifying and selecting suitable high growth potential clients; and supporting entrepreneurs to overcome business and technical challenges. 
  • Actively seek to understand the needs of mobile entrepreneurs and other mLab clients and ensure that mLab services are appropriately aligned. 
  • Represent the interests of the mLab incubatees when negotiating with industry bodies, and advocate for a policy framework that supports the development of mobile enterprises. 
  • Remain abreast of developments in the mobile sector and align mLab services accordingly. 
  • Formulate strategies to collaborate with educational institutes to accelerate the formation of mobile developer communities and mobile applications development. 
  • Establish a productive and service-oriented working environment through positive leadership and by resolving grievances raised by staff and users of the mLab. 
  • Manage and execute policies and procedures of the mLab as approved by the Steering Committee 
  • Ensure that the strategy and objectives of the mLab (as set by the Steering Committee) are clearly understood by mLab staff and contractors, and that the Steering Committee is updated on the operational aspects of the mLab and informed about any issues that may be sensitive or strategic in nature. 
  • Prepare and present reports and other documentation as requested by the Steering Committee. 
  • Develop working relationship to collaborate with other mLabs, especially the Southern/Eastern Africa Lab, on common issues of training, certification and resource sharing. 

This is a challenging position that requires an entrepreneurial approach and a commitment for helping new and emerging businesses in the region. Nonetheless, with good funding to establish the mLab, the position offers exciting long term prospects and growth for the right person. The intention is that the mLab manager has a long term interest to head the implementation of the lab, and that he/she is aiming to be contracted directly by the mLab host consortium after the initial assignment with infoDev. 



Although contracted directly by infoDev, the mLab manager will work directly with the *iHub_ consortium member organisations, and will report to the Steering Committee, which will represent the governance structure of the lab during establishment. 

The mLab manager will have an ex officio position on the Steering Committee, which could be replaced by another structure depending on the legal entity chosen for the lab. He/She will also work closely with infoDev team members and other project stakeholders. 

The mLab manager will have the authority to make operational decisions to ensure that strategic and financial objectives laid out in the Business Plan, and set by the Steering Committee, are successfully achieved. The mLab manager will implement and operate within the policies set by the Steering Committee. These policies will define (amongst other things) the scope of the financial authority and signing powers of the mLab. 



The successful candidate must be self-motivated and able to demonstrate strong leadership abilities and skills in negotiation and conflict resolution, as wells as in organisation and planning. An analytical, evaluative and problem-solving personality with the ability to multi-task within tight deadlines is required. 

The candidate is expected to have knowledge of the issues of distributed team work (remote meetings, resource sharing, monitoring tools); should have experience in online tools for distributed collaboration; should responds to email quickly, share information efficiently with all relevant stakeholders. 


The candidate must also have excellent communication ability with strong project management, presentation and consultation skills. These skills will be used to prepare project reports, briefing notes, correspondence, presentations and responses to information requests from internal and external stakeholders. 


  • A relevant degree from a recognised educational institution. (for example a B.Comm or B.Tech) 
  • A minimum of 2-3 years of management experience either in a small, medium or large business or institution. A proven track record of general management must be evident in the career of the candidate, including: 
  • Strategic management including demonstration of substantial responsibility for strategic direction setting and implementation. 
  • Strong business growth stemming from effective management. 
  • Positive human resource management (including career development; mentoring and coaching experience). 
  • Sound financial management. 
  • Effective operational management 
  • Marketing and promotion 
  • Broad knowledge of mobile industry ecosystem, and preferably a strong interest in startups developing mobile applications and content targeting emerging markets. 
  • It will be an advantage for the candidate to have been involved in the development of a high-tech startups (ideally through a business incubator) 
  • Knowledge of how to bring the R&D and software development fraternities together and an understanding of the challenges of commercialization in a dual economy will be beneficial. 
  • Experience in implementing technology solutions that have broad-based social benefit will also be an advantage. 
  • Proven leadership skill and ability to motivate and lead teams and engender trust, both locally and through online environments. 
  • Evidence of networking ability. It will be an advantage for the candidate to have established networks with the mobile and business communities in the region. 
  • Excellent written and spoken English. 


Duration of Assignment 

The position is for 150 days starting as soon as possible, but no later than January 1, 2011. Candidates interested in to stay beyond the establishment phase and run the mLab permanently after the initial STC assignment with infoDev, are encouraged to apply. The applicant may be employed directly by the local mLab (or the host organisation) after the assignment, depending on the successful implementation of the tasks and the availability of funds.


Location and working conditions 

As a contractor, the mLab manager will be expected to occupy this position on a full-time basis, operating from the mLab premises locally in Nairobi, Kenya. In order to execute the responsibilities of the position, periods of both local and international travel are to be expected. 

The mLab manager must be willing to work outside of business hours to meet deadlines or address issues that could compromise on the achievement of strategic and financial objectives or service delivery. 

The start-up phase of the mLab has a strong operational focus, and the mLab manager will need to be results oriented, regardless of the resources available. 

How to apply

In responding to these terms of reference, please submit a covering letter and a CV using the World Bank eConsult2 system (selection no. 1020655) no later than 11.59 pm Eastern Time, 19 November 2010. In order to access the selection, do not log in to eConsult2. Instead, please click on the “Bidding Opportunities” link and look for the selection number. 

Questions can be asked through the eConsult2 system. 

Should you be enable to access the eConsult system, please submit your covering letter and CV to Toni Eliasz at with a copy to no later than 11.59 pm Eastern Time, 19 November 2010 mentioning in your subject line: “Kenya m-aps lab STC EoI Selection # 1020655”

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