Sustainability Institute: Operations Administrator - iShack Project

Sustainability Institute
Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
Opportunity closing date: 
Friday, 30 May, 2014
Opportunity type: 
The Sustainability Institute is an international living and learning centre located outside Stellenbosch.The Sustainability Institute provides a space for people to explore an approach to creating a more equitable society that lives in a way that sustains rather than destroys the eco-system within which all society is embedded.

The iShack Project is a large-scale enterprise and capacity building program of the Sustainability Institute that delivers household solar electrification in an informal settlement in Stellenbosch. We are seeking to employ an efficient and highly organised team-worker with good administrative and systems skills to maintain and develop the daily operational systems, procedures and databases. This includes stock and client-data management, recordkeeping, basic bookkeeping and database management. The Operations Administrator will be based at the Sustainability Institute in Stellenbosch and will work closely with the Operations and Field Managers in the execution of this function. 

The iShack Project is a well-funded enterprise-based development project. A small team of residents, called “iShack Agents” from within the target community (Enkanini, an informal settlement in Stellenbosch), are recruited, trained and supported to deliver pay-for-use solar electricity services to residents living Enkanini. The project aims to develop technical capacity and enterprise skills in informal settlements in order to support a process of bottom-up incremental improvements in housing and services over time. The iShack Agents are undergoing a long-term program of training (technical, marketing and business skills, etc), with a view to eventually graduating to become iShack “Hub Operators”. These Hub Operators will eventually run their own iShack micro-franchise, each servicing a designated group of iShack Clients to provide a durable energy service to the community.

Solar Home Systems (SHS) are installed, by the iShack Agents, in the shacks of iShack Clients. The clients pay a joining fee and a monthly fee for the energy service. The revenues from the project ensure the sustainable maintenance and operations of the energy service. Each SHS can generate sufficient energy to power basic household appliances such as lights, TV’s, radios and DVD players.

The Sustainability Institute seeks to appoint an Operations Administrator - iShack Project, based in Stellenbosch.

The person will report to the Operations Manager.

This is a 36 hours per week (4.5 days x 8 hours per day) contract with possibility of working on weekends and after hours.  

This is a renewable, one-year contracted position.

The Operations Administrator will manage a set evolving systems and procedures that keep track of client information, stock and sales and other financial records. The Operations Administrator is also responsible for various operations and quality management tasks. The project is highly reliant on accurate and up to date information which is the responsibility of the Operations Administrator.

The Operations Administrator role is well suited to an energetic, highly efficient and focused person with strong attention to detail and excellent organisational, multi-tasking and time management skills in order to prioritise tasks whilst juggling a demanding workload; and an ability to meet and adapt positively to the changing administrative needs of an exciting and innovative project. The successful candidate will have a proven ability to work intelligently with systems that are still in development, understand the purpose of these systems and ensure that they are well implemented to meet the needs of the project. Accurate data-capturing, while vital, is not the only function of the role.

The successful candidate will be able to track information across a system; to draw up reconciliations and reports and to identify gaps or inconsistencies in data and to efficiently resolve these. A very strong working knowledge of Excel is thus essential.


There are six main areas where the Operations Administrator has responsibilities:

  1. Database Management and Recordkeeping – management of key project databases with accurate hardcopy records ensuring up-to-date information integrity across client and inventory databases.
  2. Stock Control – oversight over the receipt and dispatch of stock, and the troubleshooting and reconciliation of any differences, to ensure that all project stock is always accounted for.
  3. Client Sales – daily oversight over client electricity sales on an internet-based platform and the rapid resolution of any problems (please note that during the first few months of the appointment this role will require updating transaction databases for a few minutes each morning and afternoon - including weekends - until such time as this function is automated).
  4. Financial Administration – managing project petty cash and preparing a set of basic month-end general journal entries and reports; reconciling monthly sales data and drawing up agent commission reconciliations.
  5. Project Support – preparing and arranging any necessary items that the field or office team may require (e.g. spares, documents, stationery); scheduling regular and ad hoc meetings and preparing venues.
  6. Reporting Function – collating weekly and/or monthly data from systems and databases and producing simple reports in order to monitor trends, identify system weaknesses and risks and suggest possible improvements or interventions.

The overarching goals of the role are to a) accurately and efficiently manage the information across the project in a way that ensures its integrity and reliability for operations needs and decision making purposes; and b) to support the daily operational needs of the project in a way that ensures its smooth and efficient running.


  • Tertiary education;
  • Excellent English spoken and written communication skills;
  • Minimum of five years relevant work experience;
  • Excellent organisational and multi-tasking skills and the proven capacity to juggle a demanding workload towards achievement of deadlines;
  • Exceptionally high level of accuracy in record keeping and managing information across a system;
  • High level of competence in Microsoft Office, specifically Excel and Word;
  • Understanding of basic accounting;
  • Ability to problem solve and to design effective responses to any gaps within a system or process to make them more efficient and more effective;
  • Ability to work productively with a continually adapting set of operational systems and procedures and to contribute to and respond to these adaptations enthusiastically and professionally;
  • Valid South African or International driver’s licence.

Preferred Criteria

  • Working knowledge of isiXhosa (not essential);
  • Experience in database management;
  • Experience in operations and logistics;
  • IT skills;
  • Experience with Quality Management Systems.

Salary: R180 000 - R216 000 per annum depending on experience and qualifications.

Commencement: As soon as possible.

To apply, submit a CV, contact details of referees and motivation letter to The motivation letter should be no more than two sides of A4 paper and should:

  1. Set out clearly and specifically how you meet each requirement in the Person Specification –based on real work or life experiences and referring to your previous training and qualifications. Please be as detailed as possible, providing examples and evidence where relevant, as this will be the main method that we use to assess your suitability for the position.
  2. Provide contact details of at least two referees and state your relationship with your referees
  3. State your salary expectations and the value of your last or current salary.
  4. State where you heard about the job advertisement.

Enquiries: Andreas Keller, e-mail:

Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

The Sustainability Institute is an equal opportunity employer. Preference may be given to candidates whose appointment will promote representivity.
Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

For more about the iShack Project, refer to

For more about the Sustainability Institute, refer to

For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to


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