Global Call for Proposals for Researcher-Practitioner Collaboration on A Pilot on Financial Inclusion and Deepening


Global Call for Proposals for Researcher- Practitioner Collaboration on A Pilot on Financial Inclusion and Deepening

The NSE-IFF Research Initiative on Financial Inclusion is a joint venture of the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) and IFMR Finance Foundation (IFF). The Initiative invites academics and scholars to submit research proposals for projects in the domain of Financial Inclusion. This joint call for proposals, under the NSE-IFF Financial Inclusion Research Initiative, aims at generating high-quality research on financial inclusion, and fund projects under the broad themes of financial inclusion―financial deepening and household financial behaviour. The objective of this Initiative is to promote the systematic development of a body of work in these areas that can be of benefit to policy makers in the design of financial sector policy and to practitioners as they seek to design products and services for low-income and excluded populations.

Program Scope

i. Research Themes

We invite proposals to undertake research on two broad themes:

Theme 1: Financial inclusion and/or financial deepening

There is a remarkably consistent narrative that the services provided by the financial system exert a first-order impact on long-run economic growth. Recent research has produced a key result that countries with better-developed financial systems tend to grow faster. Certain forms of financial development, particularly those that broaden access to finance, can benefit the poor disproportionately by increasing capital flow and increasing efficiency of capital allocation.

In view of the critical importance of ensuring greater financial inclusion and deepening, proposals under this theme can address issues such as:

  • Effectiveness of financial inclusion policies in India
  • Specific barriers to financial inclusion and financial deepening
  • Barriers to product design and product development to cater to unmet financial objectives of households

This is only an indicative list of issues, and researchers can develop their own research questions pertinent to this theme.

Theme 2: Household Behaviour and Financial Well-Being

Research under this theme is meant to generate a deeper understanding of financial strategies that households adopt in order to meet their needs and goals. Household financial strategies present unique characteristics when they face low-access environments as in the case of India. The Indian households financial decisions and strategies continue to be poorly understood and demand rigorous inquiry. Research under this theme could focus on issues such as:

  • Examining the financial behaviour of households
  • Understanding the notion of financial well-being for low-income households
  • Understanding the interaction of financial products with the portfolios of households

This again is only an indicative list of issues, and researchers can develop their own research questions pertinent to this theme.

ii. Projects

This call for proposal invites proposals from researchers that aim at undertaking experiments on financial product design and/or delivery channels involving researcher-practitioner collaboration. This Researcher – Practitioner collaboration project is expected to generate an intervention which will lead to designing of a new product or improvement of an existing product to strengthen the financial inclusion and financial deepening initiatives.

One research project would be selected under this category with a maximum funding of USD 10,000. Under this project, the researcher is expected to explain in the proposal how the output of research would be implemented by the practitioner with an aim of improving the design/delivery of financial services for the low income population.

iii. Eligibility Criteria

This call is open to researchers affiliated with universities, think-tanks and other institutions (both Indian and overseas), and also to students enrolled in Doctoral programs. The proposed intervention should be implemented in India.


Screening Committee

The committee that will screen and approve the projects consists of Professor Anjini Kochar (Stanford Centre for International Development, Stanford University, USA), Professor Sumit Agarwal (National University of Singapore), Professor Bhagwan Chowdhry (UCLA, Anderson School, USA) and Bindu Ananth (IFMR Finance Foundation).


How to Apply

Interested research teams should send in their research proposal and estimated budget for their respective projects. Details of the proposed research, research budget and the profile of the research team should be filled in Form 1 (annexed with this call for proposals). In addition to the Form 1, a detailed research proposal should be submitted comprising the following 5 sections. The recommended length of the research proposal is 5-6 pages (single-spaced, Times New Roman, 11 point font).

  1. Context
  2. Proposed research questions to be studied including:
    1. Proposed intervention, target population
    2. Study location and practitioner organization
  3. Study design and research methodology
  4. Data collection and analysis
  5. Policy implications

It must be stated clearly in the proposal that the paper has not yet been sent for publication in any form (working paper or otherwise).

The researcher should also submit a letter from the proposed practitioner indicating the latter’s intention to execute the intervention and a statement on how the proposed intervention will be used for catering the financial needs of the low income households.

The deadline for receiving research proposal is Monday, 1 Dec 2014. Shortlisted candidates will be contacted before 19 December 2014.

Please email completed Form 1 and attachments (including the above mentioned letter from the practitioner) to on or before December 1, 2014.


Selection Process

Selection of the Researcher – Practitioner collaboration project proposal for awarding the grant will be done using a two-step process described below:

In the first step the researchers will be submitting the proposal as described above.

Once the proposals are submitted, a shortlisting will be done by the Selection Committee. The shortlisted candidates will be asked to respond to queries that the Selection Committee might deem necessary on the intervention, partner, deliverables, risk factors, timeline & funding needs, among others. Based on the responses, a final selection will be made and a negotiation process will be undertaken to define exact deliverables, timeline, funding requirements and funding schedules.

About National Stock Exchange of India

NSE is the largest exchange in India that has brought about a high degree of transparency, speed, efficiency and safety in the Indian securities market. NSE undertakes various initiatives in the area of financial inclusion. It conducts courses related to financial literacy, supports and sponsors research work in the area of financial inclusion, holds roundtables, panel discussions and conferences to discuss issues related to financial inclusion.

About IFMR Finance Foundation

IFMR Finance Foundation (IFF) is a not-for-profit organization focused on the mission of ensuring that every individual and every enterprise has complete access to financial services. Our mission is motivated by a strong belief in the deeply transformative power of finance in unlocking the potential of low-income households and enterprises. Our vision of the future of finance is one in which it, of necessity, responds with higher and higher levels of innovation to help people deal with the increasing levels of complexities in their own lives. At IFF, we identify gaps in the Indian financial system that inhibit the delivery of complete financial services to low-income households, and aim to develop a body of research to explore the nature of these gaps in a systematic manner.


Click here to download the PDF version of the Call for Proposals and the editable Form 1 PDF.