Call for Expressions of Interest

Financial Services for the Poor Initiative

Deadline for Expressions of Interest Applications:

Friday, April 29, 2016

The period for submitting Expressions of Interest is now closed until later in 2016.

The Financial Inclusion Program at Innovations for Poverty Action invites Expressions of Interest from teams of researchers and financial service providers to conduct rigorous research on financial product innovations for low-income households in developing countries.

Across developing and advanced economies alike, low-income households need effective and affordable tools to save and borrow money, make and receive payments, and manage risk. Digital finance and agent banking are rapidly lowering costs and expanding the reach of financial services to the unbanked and underbanked, while at the same time creating new opportunities for the development of improved products and services for the underserved. The Financial Inclusion Program at IPA partners with service providers, governments, and researchers to design and test financial services and programs, especially those using digital channels, which help households better manage their finances.

The Financial Inclusion Program’s Financial Services for the Poor Initiative focuses on the development of rigorous evidence on innovations to enable the poor to access, use, and benefit from access to digital financial services. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Initiative has developed or supported a growing portfolio of ongoing and completed randomized evaluations since 2011.

This call for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) marks the second competitive funding round of a four year, $4.1 million investment in project funding to support randomized evaluations in the following areas:

  • Designing financial and non-financial services linked to digital finance channels, including payments for health and education services
  • Increasing women’s use of (and empowerment through) digital financial services
  • Testing cash transfers and graduations programs which connect people to digital channels
  • Addressing the specific needs and cash-flow challenges of farmers and micro-entrepreneurs
  • Improving take-up and usage of formal financial services by the poor through product design, regulation, or other policy levers
  • Incorporating behavioral insights into financial product design

In 2016, we will have two rounds of Calls for EOIs. The deadline for the current round was April 29, 2016. The second round will open later this year. For each round, selected EOIs will be invited to submit full research proposals for review by a committee of experts.

The application guidelines will have more details on eligibility criteria for this Call for Expressions of Interest and for instructions on how to apply. For more information on the review process, please click here.

Learn more about the Financial Services for the Poor Initiative and its research agenda, as well as the research projects supported under the previous funding rounds (2011-2015).


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation