Chief Executive Officer (CEO), COMACO Ltd, an agribusiness NGO in Zambia

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Deadline: 15.03.2015

I am retained by the Wildlife Conservation Society to accept applications for this CEO position.  The deadline has been extended as my client  has changed the qualifications requirements and wants to receive more applicants that have at least 7 years as senior business managers, in an agribusiness or food business, with demonstrated success at achieving profitability and growing the business.  Please be sure to review all qualifications requirements before applying, then follow the "How to Apply" instructions below to show that you clearly meet all qualifications requirements.


Job Title:                    Chief Executive Officer (CEO),  COMACO Ltd

Start Date  and Duration:   As soon as possible; with three year contract, renewable

Location:                    Lusaka, Zambia, with significant time in COMACO production areas


COMACO Ltd is a Zambian non-profit company founded by the Wildlife Conservation Society (a US NGO) which promotes food security and environmental stewardship in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley by training farmers in conservation farming, providing inputs, purchasing crops, manufacturing food products, and marketing them under the It’s Wild brand. 


COMACO Ltd expects a turnover of $8 million in the current financial year, half earned from product sales and half secured through grants and gifts.  Over 60,000 smallholder farmers are registered COMACO members, of which about half are expected to sell to COMACO this year.  Key products are rice, peanut butter, honey, and Yummy Soy.  Over the past five years, COMACO has more than doubled annual income to member farmers, cut food insecurity by two thirds, reduced wildlife poaching leading to rebounds in wildlife numbers, and begun to reduce deforestation in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley and Eastern Province.  Over the next 3-5 years, COMACO’s board seeks to bring the agribusiness side of COMACO near to break-even, to professionalize management and administration, to continue to grow the program by 10-20% per year, to investigate opportunities for replication, and to strengthen the impact of COMACO on reducing habitat conversion and deforestation through land-use planning.  For more information see the website:



The board of COMACO seeks a new CEO.  S/he will report directly to the board, complementing the role of COMACO's founder and President, Dale Lewis.  The CEO will lead the COMACO enterprise, take joint responsibility with the President for annual work-planning and budgeting and take primary responsibility for the food purchasing, processing and production, transport, and marketing business.  S/he will also be responsible to the board for delivering a balanced budget and for overseeing Finance, HR, and administration, and these responsibilities will require authority over the extension as well as business areas of COMACO.  The primary objective of this position is to build an efficient and competitive food business that simultaneously serves COMACO’s charitable objectives by providing a reliable market for COMACO’s farmers.


Person Specification and Qualifications:  COMACO seeks an ambitious, results-oriented leader with a strong background in agribusiness or food business, probably in Southern Africa, but also a deep understanding of, and commitment to, COMACO’s charitable mission.  He or she will have the drive to grow the business in order to provide a growing and reliable market for COMACO’s farmers.   The CEO will be committed to business efficiency and profitability as well as to COMACO’s joint missions of promoting food security and environmental stewardship in the Luangwa Valley.   The successful candidate must be capable of accepting accountability to the board for business results and budget management as well as of partnering smoothly with COMACO’s founder and President.


Necessary Qualifications:

  • Advanced degree in agriculture, business, rural development, accountancy, environment, or other relevant discipline
  • At least 7 years’ experience of  senior business management, in an agribusiness or food business, with demonstrated success at achieving profitability and growing the business
  • Documented involvement in the international development/food security field (either directly through employment, consultancies, voluntary work, or partnerships)
  • Demonstrated experience working with non-profit management, boards, and/or donors
  • Demonstrated  responsibility for preparing and delivering on budgets/business plans in excess of $2 million/year
  • Demonstrated experience and results in marketing and sales, ideally of food products
  • Substantial demonstrated personnel management experience including at least 5 employees directly reporting and responsibility for at least 30 staff
  • At least 3 years’ experience living and working in Southern Africa
  • Understanding of, and commitment to, COMACO’s mission to promote food security and environmental stewardship
  • Understanding of and commitment to COMACO’s non-profit legal structure
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills in English


How to Apply:  Please send cover letter and resume/CV that clearly shows you meet the required Skills/Experience of the position by email to with “CEO - Zambia” in the subject line.  A list of references is also required.  We shall not contact referees without the candidates' written consent.  (For instructions on writing good cover letters, go to and click on the "Blog" tab.)


 Deadline for Applications:   Extended to March 15, 2013


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