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ReFinD awards five new grants

ReFinD has awarded grants to five successful applicants under its second request for proposals (RFP2). The new group of grantees add to 10 researchers who are benefitting from grants under the ReFinD research initiative. This brings to a total of 15 the number of ReFinD-funded projects across Africa and Asia.  

Retracing the RFP2 process 

The RFP2 process started with the issue of the call for proposals on February 1, 2023. To enhance understanding of and participation in the call, two information sessions were arranged to provide a platform for interested applicants to interact with the ReFinD team and have their questions addressed. The first session took place on 2nd March 2023, catering to interested applicants from Sub-Saharan Africa, North America, and Europe. This was followed by a second session March 8, 2023 for those from Asia, ensuring comprehensive engagement. The RFP closed on March 31, 2023, with 84 applications received. 

The five grants were awarded at the conclusion of an open and fair selection process that involved the ReFinD grants management team, a team of external reviewers and the ReFinD Scientific Committee.  

Overview of RFP2 projects 

Here is a summary for RFP2 projects, being implemented across five institutions and three countries. 

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) - Sierra Leone: The Connecting Rural Unserved Communities to Digital seeks to address major gaps in research about connecting rural, unserved communities to markets for retail digital finance service (DFS).  

Institute for Financial Management and Research: The Enhancing Digital Financial Services for Vulnerable Communities at the Last Mile project seeks to gain insights into the root causes of supply- and demand-side constraints that hinder the utilization of financial services by low-income populations in rural Bihar, India – and outline strategies to overcome them, fostering greater financial inclusion in the process. 

UC Berkeley: The Addressing Dormancy among Small Fintech Retail Agents in India project seeks to develop and test interventions that leverage data analytics to address dormancy among small fintech retail agents in India. The goal is to improve profitability, mitigate dormancy, and address poor retention rates. 

Loughborough University (UK): The Growing and Expanding Digital Finance Retail Distribution Networks in Rural and Peri-urban Areas in Ghana through Security Interventions project has an overarching goal of establishing a more secure environment that encourages inclusion and the expansion of mobile money services, particularly among women. 

Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER): The Digital Finance as a Tool for Reducing Leakages in Rural Retail Banking project aims to enhance the financial health of banks, stimulate the growth of the financial sector, and foster greater inclusivity in access to financial resources. 

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Setting the stage for effective project execution and collaborations 

As part of its commitment to support grantees, ReFinD brought together the new grantees and the Initiative’s core support team for an inception meeting. It provided a space for the newly selected grantees to deepen their understanding of the processes and expectations of the ReFinD grant, and learn about the projects of fellow grantees.  

With the implementation of RFP2 projects underway, ReFinD will continue its efforts to promote evidence-led development learning and knowledge transfer on agent networks.  Importantly, it will continue to provide ongoing support to its growing community of grantees to further the shared goal of extending agent networks to last-mile communities. 

Photo credit: Olivier Le Moal / Istock