CFO/Director of Finance
Why we exist
Myanmar has some of the worst development indicators in the world: the lowest maternal and under-5 child mortality rates in the region; a per capital annual income of about USD 1,500; one-third of all children are stunted due to nutritional deficits and disease; hate speech and misinformation on Facebook in Myanmar leading to nearly 1 million Rohingyas forced into Bangladesh; only ~15% of the
adult population having a bank account, and roughly the same percentage using formal financial products.
However, Myanmar is also a greenfield, largely free of outmoded legacy systems such as feature phones (80% of Myanmar population uses smartphones, with 105% SIM card penetration), large swaths of the economy and public sector are still paper-based, including payments, with paper cash comprising the bulk of transactions. This juxtaposition of good and bad elements provides a novel opportunity: an organization that is capable of introducing modern, Industry 4.0 technology, adapted for the peculiarities of the Myanmar context, can empower Myanmar to leapfrog other countries -- even rich ones like the United States -- by leveraging tech for good, with the potential to improve health, rule of
law, access to capital indicators in addition to improving efficiency and increasing revenues for over 50 million people.
We believe Koe Koe Tech is that organization. We are an IT social enterprise that aims to prove a new paradigm for the prevailing Big Tech model: that software and hardware can be designed with broader societal and philosophical concerns in mind, and that locally grown and adapted technology solutions are the best ones -- we have spent 6 years building a team of 150 people, 140 of whom are Myanmar nationals, with 58% women and 50 software developers, with 50% female engineers.
If we prove this new paradigm, we present not only a challenge to Big Tech but also to development aid itself, the latter of which is one of the last sectors not to have faced disruptive innovation, which still has many inefficiencies, especially with regards to technology. We can be a new model for tech companies and organizations around the world, and indeed, at scale we are interested in replicating our theory of the firm in other countries.
We are now beginning to scale up promising pilots that will be sustainable businesses: digital maternal cash transfers with our maternal and child health mobile application that can significantly reduce child stunting nationwide, as well as tax and utilities software and IoT smart meters that have tripled government revenues and can open a channel to widespread access to capital by citizens, SMEs, and corporate alike through transaction credit scoring data. The smart meters and software project is particularly complicated from a cash flow perspective, requiring an experienced financial operator who can potentially structure corporate debt and/or blended finance to cover cash flow risk given
that Myanmar municipalities cannot issue municipal bonds. You may be the right person for this job.
For more information, please visit www.koekoetech.com.
Example of our program work: tax
Myanmar’s government receives some of the lowest revenues from taxes and fees in the region, and particularly so for Myanmar’s municipal government, with taxes accounting for only 5% of municipal revenue in 2013-14 . This creates a vicious cycle: since municipal governments are under-resourced they cannot provide good civil services to the public; as such, citizens have low opinions of
government and are reluctant to pay higher taxes.
Improving this situation is complex: there may be political economy reasons for the lack of improvement, such as a byzantine internal regulatory process for municipalities that has persisted through the socialist era and is slow to change; with Myanmar only recently opening to the world, municipalities are not well aware of best practices and improvements they could make to their civil
service provision; reskilling municipal staff to handle modern technologies and operations takes time, including training staff in installing and maintaining smart meters as well as winning their trust and support for change management.
As we’ve alluded to, use of this software has resulted in tripling the revenues of municipalities, largely because from digitizing the data on our SQL database and having economists look at it we’ve been able to rationalize calculation of taxable income bases for households, which are undervalued by orders of magnitude as reported by the Economist magazine in covering our work. Our software is currently in 12
townships and we are signing contracts with 50-60 townships for 2020. Myanmar has 330 townships total.
We’re adding IoT-enabled smart water and smart power meters to this work, which is where a CFO /Director of Finance’s skills are particularly needed (in combination with a COO!). We are currently piloting IoT smart water meters in one of the townships our software has been running for a couple years. The regional government leader is interested in purchasing our smart water meters for most of the townships in the 50-township state, which means many more IoT smart meters will need to be produced, distributed,
However, Myanmar municipalities cannot issue municipal bonds, and so there’s a timing of cash flows issue for both us and the municipality. Say we receive a buy order for thousands of meters which might cost us, say, USD 500,000 to produce. We would have to pay our producer perhaps 30% upfront, or USD 150,000. Let’s say municipalities 10x’d that order, so we would have to pay USD 1.5 million upfront. And let’s say the municipalities cannot necessarily pay us all the money they would owe us for the meters for several months or even a year.
You can see the cash flow risk here. We would want our CFO to structure various alternate financing options, such as corporate debt, equity financing, grants, blended financing for us to jump start this market, because it is indeed a profitable one at maturity. It’s a tough job; we hope you’re the person to do it.
Why we want you
We hope that the tax and utilities hardware-software example should make it clear the need for you. Customer service and quality assurance will become key. As CFO / Director of Finance, you’ll be managing cash flows to pay for smart meter production and collecting payments from municipalities. There is also a super-intriguing next phase of this that will require lots of your finance chops that we’ll be happy to talk about in the interview. :)
We feel we have our Koe Koe Tech work culture nailed pretty well. We have a warm, community-oriented environment that is reflective of Myanmar’s culture. We are encouraging of diversity, as shown by our actual gender, religious, and ethnic representation. We have a work
environment where people don’t yell at each other, where confrontation is handled, um, non-confrontationally, which again is a reflection of the indirect Southeast Asian, Myanmar culture. There is high trust and high psychological safety among our team members .
At this stage of the organization, we believe cash flow is king. We have maturing products and services that have national, and indeed international demand. We have achieved proof of concept in multiple townships that are begging to be scaled up. But Myanmar is a poor country, with lots of political economy and infrastructure issues, and so we need to leverage innovative financing mechanisms in order to
“make the market”. This will be your primary responsibility as CFO.
For the past 6 years, we have largely relied on grant and donor funding in order to build the best software and product development team in Myanmar. We did this intentionally -- unlike other early players in the tech space who chose more traditional VC & PE routes and no longer exist or are operating in a zombie status because of that choice, we guessed it would take 5+ years for Myanmar’s infrastructure,
smartphone adoption, and digital payments to start being viable in order to create sustainable, monetization technology offerings.
We were wrong about a lot of things along the way, but it looks like we have been right about this core strategy. Now as smartphones are used by 80% of the population, digital financial services start to tick up, and Facebook and Viber use are rampant, we think it’s the right time to shift away from grants and donations and move towards a customer-experience, market-oriented with social impact company
strategy. And hiring a professional CFO is a key part of that move, to optimize earned revenues, create models that convince investors to invest in us, and turn our socially impactful products and services into efficient, self-sustaining social businesses.
We need a person who is obsessed with cash flows, financial excellence and has the chops to achieve it within the Myanmar context. This is where you come in.
- You are a designer and refiner of financial models for monetization and raising future investment, whether equity, debt, or blended.
- You are obsessed with optimizing earned revenues while balancing revenues with maximizing
- You are a multiplier manager that brings the best out of our accounting, finance, and other teams.
- You are an excellent Microsoft Excel-er, writer and communicator.
- You are a doer, a tinkerer, and a tactician who enjoys getting into the nitty-gritty with regard to the company’s finances.
- You are steadfast and organized; able to bring balance and order, do it in a way that fosters creativity rather than stifle it, and are respectful of Myanmar culture, where yelling, showing contempt, irritation or condescension are seen as highly disrespectful.
- You care about protecting and building an enduring organizational culture where all Koe Koe Tech team members thrive, grow, and make a real impact.
- You are the person to make us hum as a revenue-earning unit.
In many ways, you are sought precisely for how you’d complement the strengths and weaknesses of Koe Koe Tech’s co-founders, Mike (CEO) and Yarzar (CTO). This will be an ongoing conversation that takes shape as the working relationship develops. Some examples of how you might complement each other:
- Mike and Yarzar are resource magnets who consistently attract funding, business, skilled and passionate people, professional support services, mentorship, and partnership opportunities. You can put these resources to good use by matching them to our most critical needs and then skillfully managing their deployment.
- Yarzar is one of the most talented software developers in Myanmar. He is a technological visionary, pushing Koe Koe Tech towards adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies and practices. You can put Yarzar’s technical vision into practice, making his ideas sustainable businesses that have low failure rates.
- Mike is good at making novel connections across fields, such as combining hardware and software work on tax and utilities as a bundle that provides a unique competitive advantage for the Myanmar context, and pushing Koe Koe Tech to use user data to open up channels for access to finance to drive demand for smart meters.
- Neither Mike nor Yarzar are the most organized people. Both do not gravitate towards processes and structure, instead preferring to engage in creative and ready-aim-fire thinking and execution. Their approach has negatives, especially in terms of scaling up viable
businesses and instituting processes that maximize earned revenues and efficiency. This is probably your most important role as Director of Finance / CFO: honing and refining Mike and Yarzar’s wild ideas into profit-generating, investment-worthy initiatives.
You’ve been seeking a role where you don’t have to choose between making a difference and making a living. You see a tremendous opportunity here, where you could be the piece that unlocks the potential of Koe Koe Tech, built to make the most significant impact imaginable.
Skills & Qualifications
- Highly proficient Microsoft Excel-er who can create highly detailed, bespoke financial models using DCF, NPV, IRR, EV/EBITDA (for valuation), with debt schedules and cap tables, able to be subject to sensitivity analysis. Can create and present financial models to investors, partners, creditors, banks, and other financial institutions to persuasively convince these parties to give us money, whether in the form of debt, equity, or blended capital.
- Has a “no B.S.” radar and able to keep sane with bottoms-up assumptions while at the same time able to make strategic decisions about what is possible in terms of driving earned revenues growth in the future.
- Highly organized, especially in minding timing of cash inflows and outflows for the company.
- Resourceful problem solving skills for organizational change to improve earned revenues.
- Superb communication skills (quantitative, written, verbal, and everything else); able to present and collaborate with various stakeholders.
- Comfortable with ambiguity, variety, and complexity in a startup environment, but ready to institute the processes needed to transform Koe Koe Tech from late startup to proper company.
- Strong team management skills, with an established management style that brings results.
- Data-driven; keeps financing rounds and cash flows rationalized on time and on track.
- Proven experience mentoring others, fostering professional and personal growth.
- Full-time salaried position
- Can be remote or part-time if applicant makes compelling case as to how they can do their job effectively away from the office
Reporting to the Co-Founder and CEO of Koe Koe Tech, you will have the following responsibilities which are mostly internal facing and touch every area of Koe Koe Tech’s operations:
- Designer and Maintainer of Robust Financial Models to Minimize Cash Flow Risk, Maximize Earned Revenues, and Attract Investment: creating financial models, processes, and other tools in order to...
- maximize earned revenues by product and service segment. Tracking and optimizing margins using ratio analysis, what-if analysis, and conducting research on comparables.
- creating financial models to show the need for an investment case of debt, equity, or blended capital, e.g., for expansion of working capital or capital expenditures. Target financiers could be banks, VCs, PE firms, development institutions (e.g. OPIC, World Bank), and more.
- access to accurate financial information to enable strategic budgeting and forecasting (Accounting)
- ensuring that we have a healthy bank balance, taking into account cash inflows and outflows so we have the proper runway to improve ARR, MRR, without running into burn
- and more.
- Finance Team Manager: providing support, training, supervision, evaluation, and mentorship to enable the full utilization of our talented and mission-driven junior team members.
- Builder of Organizational Culture: protecting and positively shaping our culture by…
- always acting in service of Koe Koe Tech’s mission and core values
- continuously rooting out and fixing problems that hide and multiply
- nurturing creativity and innovation but also working to hone new ideas into sustainable, profitable business models.