Design Lead

NGO Jobs / UN Jobs Vacancy

Country: Tajikistan
Organization: Aga Khan Foundation
Closing date: 2 Feb 2021


Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) Tajikistan began activities in 1993, when it mounted a humanitarian response to acute food shortages in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) of Tajikistan as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent civil war. The Foundation’s high-quality interventions within agriculture and food security, economic inclusion, civil society, health and nutrition, early child development and education are characterised by its long-term commitment to institution building and community-driven approach. It has become a leader in implementing high-quality interventions to improve quality of life. AKF is one of Tajikistan’s most trusted and effective socio-economic development partners, supporting Tajikistan in the realisation of its National Development Strategy and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. AKF’s programmes cover a broad geographical area encompassing 36 districts in all four regions of Tajikistan – GBAO, Khatlon, Districts of Republican Subordination (Rasht Valley) and Sughd – reaching over 1 million people. AKF implements its programming through its trusted partners, including Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) sister agencies and local and international development actors.

AKF Tajikistan is seeking to hire a Design Lead in Tajikistan for the AKF and USAID jointly funded Local Impact Leader with Associate (LWA) award. With an eye toward conflict prevention and resolution, Local Impact will target marginalized and vulnerable communities to: (1) Catalyze inclusive economic growth and ensure basic livelihoods; (2) Enhance infrastructure and access to basic services with a focus on clean energy; (3) Enhance the capacity of citizens and local institutions; and (4) Promote pluralism and social cohesion.


The Design Lead will support design team members and co-creators in the country office focused on turning human insights into tangible products, services, and experiences and will support those designs towards funding and implementation. The Design Lead will also build the capacity of local teams in leading and facilitating design processes. As part of an interdisciplinary team, he/she will tackle complex, human-cantered and socially impactful challenges alongside other development practitioners from different backgrounds. The Design Lead will work closely with the Regional Co-creation Manager and the Global Lead for Innovation.


The position will be based in Dushanbe and will report to Local Impact Country Manager.


  • Project Scoping. Identify opportunities and scope design challenges in close collaboration with local teams and Local Impact focal points based on AKDN and USAID priorities.
  • Design Planning. Support country and agency offices in planning design processes, methods, and tools to use. Create learning plans, identify the right questions to ask, and collaborate with other designers to find creative ways to answer them.
  • Design Facilitation and Consulting. Support the projects and teams in conducting design processes and workshops. Prepare and facilitate workshops to move the design work forward.
  • Design Research. Employ a variety of traditional and non-traditional research methods, including creating research plans, conducting interviews and focus groups, shadowing participants, participatory observations, expert interviews, and even putting yourself in the shoes of the people you’re designing for.
  • Synthesis. Bring together learnings from design processes by leading the discussion of data collected in the field (a process we call ‘synthesis’). This will include debriefing and discussing user feedback with your teams—collaborating to turn research into potential directions for design.
  • Prototype. Build prototypes and test solutions with target audiences to collect feedback and iterate on solutions.
  • Capacity Development. Conduct workshops and learning experiences to build design capacity of local teams and stakeholders.
  • Document. Creating design playbooks, resources, and other assets.
  • Present. Clearly communicate complex concepts to a variety of audiences to include, but not limited to, internal AKDN stakeholders, USAID staff, and more.
  • Strategy. Create an overall strategy, framework, and plan for working with these design projects.
  • Identify Opportunities. Review proposals submitted by local teams regarding design challenges based on internal priorities and USAID mission.
  • Build Resources. This may include customizing tools and building other materials that teams can use for their own projects.
  • Writing. Contribute to other project documents such as reports, communications materials, case studies and presentations.
  • Relationships. Engage with key project partners and donors to ensure they are bought-in and contributing to the project.


  • Leadership. A natural collaborator and a proven leader, you’re at ease with multidisciplinary teams and can set strategic direction for development interventions.
  • Designer at Heart. You believe that great design creates impact, both in its ability to deliver needed solutions and delight through unexpected details.
  • Solutions-Oriented. Solution-focused and medium-agnostic, you are willing to step out of your core skill set or discipline to find the correct solution to a challenge.
  • Systems Thinking. You are a systems thinker who can logically visualize complex systems.
  • Translator. You are skilled at turning human insights into concrete design concepts.
  • Interdisciplinary. You are knowledgeable about how to support other disciplines in their work and champion their success.
  • Visual. You are able to articulate the value of human-centered design (HDC) through verbal and visual presentation.
  • Experimenter. You are comfortable with trial and error and have experience prototyping and experimenting at different levels of fidelity.
  • Curiosity. You have insatiable curiosity and a passion for experimentation.
  • Flexibility. From informal settlements in a rural village to the national government, you can thrive in diverse work cultures. You are adept at switching seamlessly between self-directed independent work and highly collaborative teamwork.
  • Passion. You are excited about rooting great design in human needs, motivations, and behaviors.
  • Inspire. You contribute fully to Accelerate Impact’s innovation culture


· Education. Master’s degree in International Development, Sociology, Economics, Design or other related field.

· Design Lead (DL). Fluency in the process, from qualitative research and synthesis to ideation, prototyping, and implementation. Selected candidates will be requested to submit an example of products, services, and approaches that they helped create and that have the potential of driving impact locally or globally.

· Training. Experience in conducting/facilitating training and building capacity of non-designers. Ability to use new and innovative training methods.

· Planning. Demonstrated experience planning and leading research activities, such as interviews, group sessions, and observations.

· Prototyping. Experience creating quick and dirty prototypes as well as more refined deliverables. You have experience prototyping in various resolutions to create experiences that lead users to provide valuable feedback about your solutions.

· Presentation: Ability to present HCD, and other related findings/solutions to the wider groups such as government partners, donors, other stakeholders. Finding synergy within the project and with USAID or other projects

· Capacity Building. Experience in building capacity of non-designers on HCD would be an asset.

· Social Development. Experience or demonstrated interest in tackling poverty-related challenges.

· Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Cultural sensitivity, and an ability to connect easily with new people.

· Perspective. You add a unique perspective to your research and to our teams, such as writing and storytelling, strategic thinking, or service design.

· Language. Spoken and written fluency in English and at least one of Tajik or Russian is essential.

How to apply:


A cover letter (2 pages maximum) and resume (2 pages maximum) clearly demonstrating how applicants meet essential qualifications and asset criteria should be submitted with a subject line “**Design Lead**” to: Human Resources Department at by no later than February 2, 2021.

AKF strongly encourages qualified female applicants for this position. AKF seeks to ensure that male and female employees are given equal career opportunities and that staff members are able to keep an appropriate balance between work and private life.

For more information on the Aga Khan Foundation and Aga Khan Development Network visit:

Please visit to submit an application for this vacancy.

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