As part of the GIIN’s mission to accelerate the scale and effectiveness of impact investing, we publish job openings from members of the GIIN Investors’ Council and other impact investing leaders.

Research and Development Manager

at Sanergy in Kinanie, Kenya

About the Job

Research and Development is responsible for creating and improving products and technologies to enable the profitable conversion of organic wastes into valuable byproducts. We take ideas from the whiteboard to the factory floor. As a team we are involved in ideation and design, product testing, trialing and transfer of technology into Operations.

In the R&D Improve team, we focus on developing our existing product lines and improving volume, quality and cost with process and product changes.

The Opportunity

Sanergy has just finished construction of a large scale waste treatment facility capable of converting organic wastes into insect protein, organic fertilizer and briquettes. Insects, and in particular the insect we grow (the black soldier fly) are seen as a key technology in producing circular economy animal feeds. It is also a new sustainable technology with rapid sector growth - which means there is lots to learn. We are looking to further research and develop the technology to our contexts to improve process performance, reliability and quality, where small improvements can have big impact.

Your role

  • Lead an R&D projects team: work with R&D manager and a team of Specialists to develop project scope, timeline and risk management plans. Deliver multiple project workstreams by guiding your team to successful project execution.
  • Drive product and process development: optimise our KuzaPro product line, including formulation, cost reductions, breeding and yield improvements, feedstock diversification and process improvement
  • R&D strategy: Setting the strategy for existing products to deliver on the organization’s financial plan with the R&D Director and Sanergy leadership team
  • Project management: Support Sanergy’s technology strategy and lead development of the R&D project funnel
  • Product and process development: Build, plan, manage and coach R&D team to conduct broad literature search to identify and shortlist potential future technologies for feasibility assessment
  • Systems and processes: Identifies gaps in current Sanergy R&D and NTCO systems and process and puts in place processes, systems and documentation to address those gaps
  • Quality & Operations support: Assigns resource to support R&D-relevant RCAs and first point of contact for Head of Operations
  • Staff supervision responsibilities: Staff reporting to the R&D Trial Lead will be all R&D Associates, Specialists, supervisors, and workmen assigned to the R&D “Improve” team
  • Keep at the cutting edge: Conduct regular literature reviews, competition/peer engagements and process data reviews to remain up to date in composting and bioconversion technology, and generate further research leads. Identify where the team needs coaching or training to upskill and grow.
  • Maintain product and process specifications: Own and develop specifications for products and processes
  • Tie your work to the business: Perform cost/benefit analyses to determine marginal profitability of improvements.

What can you expect?

You will be leading a team responsible for research and development, enabling us to grow our production rapidly and consistently in an exciting and fast-growing technology. You will be interacting across multiple functions to land changes into a process where even small changes have massive impact. You will have regular opportunities to present your work to senior leadership. You will be challenged to deliver ambitious results - and experience both professional and technical growth as you succeed. Your work is both highly technical and highly practical - for example: prepare to do highly technical trial design in the morning, and be out in the field in the afternoon, checking on your work. You will need to manage a portfolio of technical projects and deliver them on time in full. You will be delivering through a team, and need to implement the systems, process and culture to enable them to succeed.


  • Degree in Science- or Engineering-related field, and/or demonstrable performance managing technical project teams to success
  • Preferable, but not mandatory: experience rearing insects in a production environment; alternatively, have developed and scaled a novel bioprocess technologies
  • Proficiency with Office suite tools or equivalent especially in Excel skills: you have used Excel or an equivalent tool to collect and analyse data, build models
  • Experience leading technical teams and manage multiple projects
  • Strong problem-solving skills: you have shown the ability to abstract and solve ambiguous, challenging problems. Ability to learn and parse new technologies into meaningful progress.
  • Effective time management, organizational, and prioritization skills: you have demonstrable ability to manage multiple projects and are able to manage a team of managers executing these projects.
  • Strong bias for action: you move with speed, taking calculated risks to deliver projects on time.
  • Continual improvement mindset: you have shown that you are thorough, detail-oriented, don’t make assumptions; systematically check and validate yours and others’ work; you catch typos and errors. You correct defects using systems and mechanisms.
  • Clear, consistent communication: you capture your thoughts and theories in writing; you write great emails; you communicate at the right level to the right audience; you use formatting and templates to highlight key information; you use pictures, graphs and visuals to communicate complex topics effectively

To apply


Sanergy is an award-winning social venture based in Nairobi, Kenya. We undertake three exciting lines of work:

We provide safe, sustainable sanitation services to residents living in urban informal settlements of Nairobi and Kisumu using end-to-end non-sewered sanitation solutions.

We implement a circular economy model to sustainably manage sanitation and organic waste generated in cities. Using technologies developed in-house, we upcycle the waste into insect-based protein for animal feed, organic fertilizer, and biomass fuel. We operate the largest organics recycling plant in East Africa.

We partner with cities to develop and deliver safe sanitation and waste management for urban residents. Using a systematic methodology, we match cities’ sanitation and waste management needs with technology and service delivery models, and then offer clear guidance on the steps that governments, funders, service providers and technology developers can take to develop and implement integrated service delivery systems.

Operational since 2011, Sanergy serves over 140,000 urban residents with safe sanitation services every day. Sanergy collects and treats over 12,000T of waste per year, and successfully sells its agricultural end-products to farmers in over 20 counties in Kenya, who see improved yields and increased incomes. At the same time, we have built a team of over 400 employees from diverse backgrounds who solve diverse problems, but all embody the drive, creativity, teamwork, and passion that make us achieve our goals. For our work, we have been recognized by the Gates Foundation as one of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals accelerator; by Fast Company as one of the 10 most innovative companies in the world doing social good and one of the 10 best companies in Africa, and the Food Planet Prize for our innovative circular economy approach.

Citywise, Sanergy’s advisory services team, leverages Sanergy’s experience delivering full value chain sanitation services to accelerate efforts toward citywide inclusive sanitation. We partner with others to design and implement integrated systems that deliver safe, cost-effective and dignified sanitation. We have a proven track record delivering sanitation services to the poorest, most vulnerable populations in rapidly developing cities, command of technologies and service delivery models for urban sanitation, and a strong network of collaborators around the world.

Sustainable Water and Sanitation Systems Activity (SWASSA) is a five-year, USAID-funded program in peri-urban areas of the Kivus region of the DRC, led by Mercy Corps. SWASSA’s goal is improved and sustained equitable access to clean water supply and safe sanitation services. Citywise is responsible for leading the iterative design and delivery of cost-effective sanitation service models. We are committed to establishing a foundational understanding of the business landscape, customer preferences, existing infrastructure, and other relevant norms and context, and to developing solutions, iteratively and in partnership with government, stakeholders and communities, to strengthen what exists and fill gaps in order to ensure that all residents have access to safely managed sanitation.