International collaboration on financial research could change lives in Africa

Researchers at the University of Birmingham are leading work into inclusive finance that could improve people’s lives across Africa and other developing countries. 

Led by Professor Victor Murinde from the University, an international consortium of academic partners are collaborating on a project which fills an urgent need for research on inclusive finance and how it might lift low-income countries to the level of their medium-income peers. 

The consortium includes six UK universities, as well as institutions from the Netherlands, North America and Africa. Its research will focus on delivering inclusive financial development, particularly in low-income countries in Africa.  

Professor Murinde, the Principal Investigator, said: “This research is vital for embedding financial inclusion in African economies and aims to have a significant impact on society as a whole. 

“Small businesses in such countries can find it difficult to survive, but with improved access to finance can participate fully in economic life, create jobs and realise their full potential. 

“Low income-families can find that access to a small loan, savings account or insurance policy makes a big difference – making it easier to cope with difficult times and helping people plan for the future.” 

The project will deliver rigorous, high quality research to support financial inclusion policies, whilst developing innovative financial products – working with households, banks, and the private sector. 

It will also involve collaborative research to enhance methodologies and data for the promotion of inclusive finance, as well as allowing the consortium to engage with policy-makers to provide research-based advice on financial inclusion in Africa. 

The research is funded with a £2.02 million grant under the DFID-ESRC Growth Research programme (DEGRP) Call 3 (2015/2016). 

Professor Christine Oughton, Head of the Department of Financial and Management Studies at SOAS University of London said: “This project will explore the role of financial inclusion in shaping innovation and economic development in low income countries.  It will shed much-needed light on the question of how inclusive finance can facilitate technological innovation and economic growth.” 

Financial institutions and markets can help disseminate the flow of information about resource availability, especially the required financial resources for supporting economic growth. 

However, it is much less clear how financial development can be inclusive – some households and enterprises are unable to fully participate in the financial sector; globally, some countries may not access international capital markets. 

While new technology, such as mobile money transfer systems, has strengthened financial inclusion, gaps in access to finance as well as gaps in the development of financial systems seem to be getting wider following the 2007-09 global financial crisis. 

Professor Lemma W. Senbet, African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) Executive Director, said: “The conversation in Africa has now shifted, beyond the growth renaissance the region has witnessed over the years, to that of inclusive growth that is sustainable.  

“Inclusive finance is at the center of this transformation, and hence the project is very timely.  AERC is privileged to be a partner, since the project pervades its entire capacity building framework inclusive of research, collaborative graduate training, policy outreach, and vast network.” 

ENDS

Notes to Editors 

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 4,000 international students from nearly 150 countries.
  • The research will be delivered over a four year period (2016-2020 and addresses three core questions: 
  1. How can institutional frameworks support inclusive financial development?
  2. What role do private and public capital inflows play in domestic financial inclusion in Africa?
  3. How can private and public institutions in Africa be a catalyst and channel for technological diffusion and financial inclusion?
  • The project was launched in conjunction with the AERC Senior Policy Seminar on “Financial Inclusion”, for dialogue and input from stakeholders, including senior policy officials, private sector actors, and civil society, in Nairobi on 21st - 23rd March, 2016.  

Partner institutions: 

For more information or interviews, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 8254 or  +44 (0)782 783 2312