Refugee Led Organization (RLO) Engagement Lead


POSITION TITLERefugee Led Organization (RLO) Engagement Lead
POSITION LOCATIONAny country on the African continent – applicants must have authorization to work from their country of residence
REPORTS TODREEM Project Director


World University Service of Canada (WUSC) is a leading Canadian international development organization that works with and through its southern partners to promote sustainable development. Founded in 1957 and currently working in more than 20 countries worldwide with an annual budget of approximately $45 million dollars, WUSC fosters youth-centered solutions for improved education, economic, and empowerment opportunities to overcome inequality and exclusion. We believe youth have the potential to provide for their families, build strong communities, and create positive social change for future generations. Globally, WUSC has a network of higher education institutions, civil society organizations, private sector partners, professionals, students, volunteers, faculty, and community leaders that can be leveraged to support our work.

WUSC offers a dynamic international work environment with a diverse intercultural workforce. We offer employees exciting opportunities to apply their skills and gain experience all while making a difference for youth around the world.  Employees at WUSC work hard to create lasting change in education, employment and empowerment.

Displaced and Refugee youth Enabling Environment Mechanism (DREEM) project

WUSC through the DREEM project plays a unique role as a technical assistance and strategic learning partner to the Mastercard Foundation and its partners. The DREEM project contributes to the Mastercard Foundation’s commitment to meaningfully include refugee and displaced youth in their Scholars Program and Young Africa Works strategy.

The DREEM project focuses on three key pillars:

  1. Higher Education Inclusion:
    1. Support Scholars Program (SP) partners and staff with the knowledge, capacity and networks to meaningfully recruit and serve refugees and displaced youth in higher education and transition to work and to work towards more inclusive societies;
  2. Economic Inclusion:
    1. Support Young Africa Works (YAW) country partners and staff primarily in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia and also in other countries around the continent to gain the knowledge, capacity and networks to meaningfully include and develop programming  that meets the unique training and employment needs, opportunities and aspirations of refugee and displaced youth, especially young women;
    2. Strengthening Economic Opportunities for Refugees (SEOR) to complement WUSC’s existing Learning through Education and Access to Employment Pathways (LEAP) project and provide refugee entrepreneurs, especially young women with improved access to market-oriented business support services that improve business and employment outcomes in Kenya.

Underpinning all of these efforts is the leadership and influence of displaced young people themselves. The project is governed by a Youth Advisory Committee, composed of individuals with lived experiences, to advise and provide guidance to WUSC, Mastercard Foundation, their stakeholders, and program partners in order to meet the Foundation’s objectives and ensure that DREEM activities are designed and delivered to meet the needs of refugees and displaced young people.

Mastercard Foundation recently approved an enterprise-wide Refugee and Displaced Persons (RDP) Strategy aiming to invest in young Africans who have faced forcible displacement—and in the host communities, they become part of—by enabling access to high-quality education and training and supporting young people’s pathways to dignified and fulfilling work as employees or entrepreneurs and job creators. The Foundation also works with multiple stakeholders across the public, private, and non-profit sectors, particularly young people themselves, to address systemic barriers inhibiting the economic prospects of forcibly displaced youth. Fundamental to this work is ensuring that refugee and displaced youth are at the forefront of all interventions, from design to execution to monitoring and adaptation.

The Role

Under the supervision of the Nairobi-based Project Director, the Refugee Led Organization (RLO) Engagement Lead will play a pivotal role in advancing the missions of WUSC and the Mastercard Foundation in enhancing access to educational and economic opportunities for RDP leaders across Africa. A significant part of this work involves identifying, connecting and strengthening our work with refugee-led initiatives and voices to amplify our collective impact.

This is an exciting new position that requires a dedicated, innovative and experienced individual and will involve establishing and nurturing relationships and innovative partnerships and initiatives with RLOs, youth community leaders and other key stakeholders to enhance collaboration, support, and resource-sharing. This is a new position for the DREEM project to support RLOs and refugee youth leaders in a variety of areas including: organizational development, storytelling and communications, program development and fundraising, and network building, amongst others.


  • Works collaboratively with DREEM team members to ensure that the voice of RDP youth are effectively and meaningfully represented across all of our programming;
  • Works closely with the DREEM Higher Education Inclusion and Economic Inclusion leads to ensure strong RLO engagement within those portfolios;
  • Serves as the primary project liaison to the DREEM Youth Advisory Committee, ensuring regular communication, identifying higher education and economic opportunities, organizing virtual and in-person convenings, continuing professional development opportunities, identifying new members, and ensuring there is an active and responsive feedback mechanism for any issues or concerns that may arise;
  • Identifies opportunities for RLO strengthening and network building within and across countries;
  • Oversees the Youth Advisory Committee Community Fund, to support members with financial and technical resources to implement self-identified initiatives within their communities or organizations;
  • Supports WUSC and the Foundation to identify and assess the landscape and characteristics of RLOs (or similar entities) in countries of expansion;
  • Oversees the project’s support of an annual refugee-led leadership conference, driven by the project’s advisory committee;
  • Identifies opportunities for the active engagement of displaced youth in international and regional convenings;
  • Identifies promising practices and ways to share learnings across project partners and stakeholders;
  • In partnership with the DREEM Senior MERL Officer, local communications experts and WUSC Ottawa Communications staff, supports activities to document and highlight refugee leadership programming in the project. This includes documenting learnings, success stories, multimedia content and other relevant information;
  • Other duties as appropriate.


The ideal applicant will combine technical expertise in one or more of DREEM’s sectors (higher education, durable solutions for refugees, vocational and technical training, support to entrepreneurs and businesses), a familiarity with the East African refugee context, an ability to get things done, and strong organization, coordination, and communication skills.

Specific competencies:

  • At minimum, a Bachelor’s degree in a related field (International Development, Public Policy, International Relations, Refugee Studies);
  • Five to seven years of relevant working experience;
  • Experience working on displacement issues in Africa; lived experience is a plus;
  • Demonstrated experience working in partnership with individual community-based organizations and networks of CBOs is a must; experience with RLOs is strongly desired;
  • Experience in partnership management, human-centered design, community development and/or capacity building is strongly desired;
  • Complete fluency in English is essential, with the ability to write articulately and cogently, and to edit at a similarly high level;
  • Fluency (or professional competencies) in French is desirable;
  • Strong planning, organization and problem-solving skills with ability to work hands-on, independently, and within team in a fast-paced work environment;
  • Excellent interpersonal and facilitation skills;
  • Demonstrated commitment to gender equality and social inclusion principles; proven knowledge of and commitment to the concept of gender equality and intersectionality within programming;
  • Commitment to WUSC’s mission of building a better world for all young people, particularly displaced and refugee youth;

Other requirements

  • The headquarters of the DREEM project is located in Nairobi, Kenya; the lead is expected to be based on the African continent, and must already possess the relevant work authorizations in the country they are/will be residing in.
  • The role requires regular travel across the African continent and occasional travel to other countries for conferences, workshops and meetings;
  • Ability to work a flexible schedule.

WUSC’s activities seek to balance inequities and create sustainable development around the globe; the work ethic of our staff, volunteers, representatives and partners shall correspond to the values and mission of the organization. WUSC promotes responsibility, respect, honesty, and professional excellence, and we will not tolerate harassment, coercion, sexual exploitation or abuse of any form. Successful applicants will be required to undertake an enhanced criminal record check where appropriate.

Only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted. WUSC is an equal opportunity employer. We welcome and encourage applications from people with disabilities. Accommodations are available on request for candidates taking part in all aspects of the selection process. If you wish to apply for this exciting role, please submit your application here by November 19 2023.

WUSC does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process.

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