Country Director, Iraq

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq Full-time

About GiveDirectly:

GiveDirectly (GD) aims to reshape international giving -  and millions of lives - by allowing donors to provide capital grants directly to the world’s poorest. The Brookings Institution estimates that $70B of cash transfers would be required to eliminate the poverty gap; the aid sector currently spends $135B each year, much of which is allocated to evidence-free interventions. GiveDirectly wants to change that, establishing a benchmark, and in the process accelerate the end of extreme poverty. GiveDirectly has raised over $250M in revenue and established operations in 8 countries, while being recognized as one of the most innovative non-profit companies by Fast Company. The growing movement toward cash transfers and GD’s role in that movement have also been featured in This American Life, Foreign Affairs, The Economist, and  Business Insider.

We’re looking for exceptional talent to grow our team and the broader cash movement. Our culture is direct, analytical, non-hierarchical, fast-paced, transparent, and hard working. We are open to candidates from any industry and typically recruit from top organizations - members of our team have come to us from private-sector companies (consultancies, law firms, investment banks, etc.), start-ups, and government. We value ability and willingness to learn over years of experience. We offer competitive salary and benefits and performance-based bonuses. 


Project Overview:

Former Secretary of State Ban Ki Moon declared in 2016: “Where markets and operational contexts permit, cash-based programming should be the preferred and default method of support.” Despite high profile endorsements, less than 15% of humanitarian aid spend is on cash. How can GiveDirectly help shift the needle? Building on our anti-poverty work, we are investing in a domestic and international humanitarian response capability. Our first post-conflict initiative, in partnership with Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, will be a cash transfer program to returnees in Sinjar, Iraq, with a focus on empowering female recipients. We are looking for a short-term (6-8 month) Country Director to lead our entry into this important new market. 


Role Overview:

You will own setting up GiveDirectly’s Iraq office and executing the project end to end. In launching this initiative, you will also help us to build a broader set of capabilities that can be deployed across various humanitarian contexts (conflict, post-conflict, disaster response etc).  We’d love to hear from you if you believe that recipients should play a greater role in deciding how aid resources are allocated; enjoy creating playbooks to solve complex operational challenges; and are excited to expand the range of settings in which GD delivers cash. (NB: Applications will be assessed on a rolling basis and close August 23rd)



  • Establish GiveDirectly’s presence in Iraq & set the project up for success 
    • Field test and lock in core program design parameters (e.g. targeting, payment modality etc) 
    • Hire and onboard a high-talent field team
    • Set up the legal, HR, regulatory, and financial infrastructure to support an end of year pilot timeline 
    • Create best-in-class security protocols that maximally safeguard staff and recipients  
  • Deliver program at an exceptional quality bar 
    • Ensure strong community relations and sensitivity to gender/ethnic/religious dimensions, in order to protect the team and recipients
    • Manage field teams to deliver operations in line with GiveDirectly’s standard of excellence (robust anti-fraud playbook, high-quality customer service for recipients etc.) 
    • Identify operational vulnerabilities (e.g. fraud, brand risk)  and create solutions to de-risk 
  • Showcase and institutionalize learnings for future humanitarian work
    • Generate qualitative and quantitative insights to augment the knowledge base on cash in post-conflict settings & inform scale-up of the program
    • Create a rapid response & post-conflict playbook that can be leveraged for future GD projects


Desired Experience:

  • 5+ years of experience working in conflict or post-conflict settings
  • Exceptional track record managing complex operations and nimble teams
  • Passion for problem-solving in contexts with high ambiguity and limited pre-existing playbook 
  • Arabic is a plus 
  • Strong alignment with GD values (see below)


GD values:

Recipients first.

We prioritize recipient preferences over those of donors or ourselves.

We do not impose our preferences, or judgments, on the beneficiaries; instead we respect and empower them to make their own choices, elevating their voices in the global aid debate. This value is core to GiveDirectly’s identity as the first organization exclusively devoted to putting the poor in control of how aid money is spent. It comes at a potential cost, as it means that neither we nor donors get to set priorities (and we may even lose some “efficiency” in providing this option).

Team next.

We do what’s best for organizational - not individual - success.

This is a team sport, where we will succeed (or fail) together. The best players are not those with the best individual statistics, but those with biggest impact on our overall performance. We avoid territoriality, self-promotion, and I’m above this attitudes.

Be proactively candid.

Wsay what we believe, and are honest in sharing information.

Having confidence that other people are telling us what they truly believe, without gloss or omission, is critical to effective communication and to our ability to learn and grow from feedback. We owe it to each other - and our donors - to instill this confidence even though giving and receiving information candidly are unusual in both professional and social life, and can be very uncomfortable.

Create positive energy  

We strive to be a source - not drain - of energy for our colleagues.

Our work is hard, practically and emotionally, and we cannot overemphasize the importance of maintaining a positive attitude, enjoying the company of our colleagues, and not taking ourselves too seriously.  In doing so, we aspire to generate energy and excitement amongst our colleagues in pursuing our mission. This should not preclude candor, and we aspire to achieve both.

Think rigorously; act quickly.

We are intellectually rigorous with a drive towards action - not debate.

We reason from first principles, grounding our decisions in objective claims about the world, rather than hard-to-disprove assertions or hierarchy. We aim to brainstorm inclusively and respectfully, but critically self-vet ideas we put forward, so as to ensure productive and prudent decision making. Demanding this level of rigor forces us to think harder about decisions and our assumptions than we otherwise might. This is a real cost. It can be taken too far: it is possible to overthink decisions, and we avoid debate for the sake of debate.  We are not here to philosophize or ensure consensus. We decide and act quickly, avoiding getting bogged down in debates.

Accept reality. Propose solutions.

We do not dwell on problems. We work actively to create solutions.

There will always be an endless list of things to improve. We focus on the things that can be changed; find the most important of those things, and propose actionable answers. We do not allow “problems” to weigh us down and be a source of negativity.  We are forward looking, which we believe not only leads to better team outcomes, but also creates a more enjoyable, energizing environment for all.

Be productively ambitious.

We take the risks to pursue industry-changing success, not incremental progress.

We seek step-change improvements at all levels, and are willing to make big-bets; we do not accept complacency nor do we simply optimize existing processes. In doing so, we allow ourselves to dream big with a belief that perceived constraints are merely opportunities for creativity. Such ambition not only requires hard work (i.e., this is not a 9-5 job), but also a willingness to accept and learn from temporary setbacks and failures.  In accepting these failures, we’re conscious to not point fingers, nor obsess over “mistakes” made.

Know yourself and grow.

We recognize and accept our imperfections with a focus on growth.

We are an organization of exceptional people and trust in each other’s abilities, yet we recognize that none of us is perfect. We strive to maintain an accurate understanding of our individual and institutional strengths and weaknesses, in order to position ourselves to maximize our chances of success. At the same time, we seek personal growth for ourselves and our teammates. Feedback is given with a spirit of helpfulness; and sought out with a desire to learn.