Research Meets Africa Workshop

The Organisational Committee of the African Microfinance Week has invited European, International and especially African PhDs, researchers and experts to submit research papers for the Research Meets Africa Workshop, a University Meets Microfinance (UMM) workshop in Africa organized in collaboration with ADA and PlaNet Finance.

Download the papers selected and presented during the Research Meets Africa Workshop:

Download the papers

Theme: Accelerating Research on Innovations for Rural Financial Inclusion in Africa

The Research Meets Africa Workshop has leverage research on innovations, gathering expertise from different sectors, including those which are currently outside the microfinance world; but which have the potential to bring about change, by identifying opportunities and new ways of reaching out to rural populations, and fostering new inclusive finance methodologies. During the workshop authors of accepted papers presented their research findings.

Putting forward the objective of advancing rural financial inclusion in the African context the guiding question is:

How can research on innovation accelerate the transfer of expertise and experiences from other sectors to the rural financial inclusion sector in Africa?

Rural financial inclusion in Africa faces many challenges in providing appropriate products and services, developing inclusive financial ecosystems that are secure, accessible and affordable as well as leveraging local and international expertise to support and promote rural livelihoods and markets.

For this purpose, the call for research papers sought to attract research on innovations from various fields – scientific, engineering, social sciences, agricultural, economic, technological, etc. – to contribute to growth, development and breakthroughs in rural financial inclusion in Africa.


What do we mean by innovation?

We refer to the concept of innovation developed by Schumpeter: innovation as the production of a new good, the introduction of a new method of production, the opening of a new market, the conquest of a new source of raw material and the new organization of an industry. (The Analysis of Economic Change,1935). Promoting an innovative financial inclusion framework signifies stimulating new practices within the microfinance sector and linking with experiences from other sectors with the capacity to bring about solutions or break down barriers for inclusive finance. The role of applied research as a source of grassroots innovations, knowledge creation and expertise is critical to facilitate access to financial products and services responding to the needs and challenges of excluded and underserved populations. Processes for developing and marketing goods and services arising from grassroots ingenuity are subject to become more inclusive as they are relevant to markets lower down the pyramid. Therefore, we also advance the concept of “reverse innovation” which refers to the process whereby goods are developed as inexpensive models to meet the needs of developing nations, such as battery-operated medical instruments in countries with limited infrastructure. Reverse innovation or trickle-up innovation are terms referring to “any innovation that is adopted first in the developing world” (Vijay Govindarajan: How Reverse Innovation Can Change the World).


What is rural financial inclusion?

Rural financial inclusion is characterized by the unique challenges and barriers to providing or accessing quality and diverse financial products and services for excluded or marginalized populations in rural territories and markets. It also signifies the need to take into account specific national and rural contexts and factors, such as livelihoods, demography and migration, climate and geographical conditions, infrastructure for health care, education, reliability of technology, or other “global public goods” (Anders Hjorth Agerskov: Global Development Challenges Facing Humanity) linked to ‘environmental commons’ or natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, solar rays and water.


About University Meets Microfinance

University Meets Microfinance (UMM) is a European initiative which fosters cooperation between universities, students in Europe and microfinance practitioners to contribute to microfinance innovation and education for sustainable development. UMM is mainly active in the domains of microfinance education, microfinance research, information documentation, professional exchange and dissemination of information. All UMM activities are carried out under the umbrella of the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) in the frame of the e-MFP "UMM" Action Group.

UMM was launched in 2009 by PlaNet Finance and Freie Universität Berlin. The project is financially supported by the European Commission under the framework of its Development Education and Awareness Raising (DEAR) program, by the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the European Investment Bank Institute (EIB-I), the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management and Capgemini Italia (country partner Italy).


Download the Research Meets Africa presentations from the SAM 2015

Click below to download the presentations of the Research Meets Africa workshops which took place during SAM 2015: