Citi IPA Financial Capability Research Fund

Call for Expressions of Interest
Citi IPA Financial Capability Research Fund

First Round: Issued June 19, 2012
Deadline: October 19, 2012
Download the Application Guidelines and the Application Form

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and the Citi Foundation invite Expressions of Interest (EOI) submissions from teams of researchers and practitioners to conduct rigorous research on product design, incentives and product-linked financial education interventions aimed at improving the way low- to moderate-income individuals manage their money.  EOI applications are due Friday, October 19, 2012 by 11:59pm Eastern Daylight Time.

The Citi IPA Financial Capability Research Fund, supported by the Citi Foundation, aims to contribute to the sparse evidence in this field by supporting rigorous evaluations of promising strategies in three focus areas where financial service providers can act to improve the financial capabilities of potential and existing clients. The focus areas of the fund are

  1. product-linked financial education;
  2. incentives for behavior change and use of financial services; and
  3. product design as a way to encourage appropriate use of financial instruments.

The fund will focus on cost-effective, client-based interventions that - if found effective - provide a promising business case for scale-up by financial institutions. We encourage proposals seeking to compare the effectiveness of different designs and product features in achieving behavior change, as well as efforts to measure the impact of a specific intervention on the welfare of its users. Finally, we encourage product tests conducted simultaneously in different contexts (and by different implementing institutions) to increase the policy relevance of findings.

The competitive fund’s selection committee will consider projects in all countries except the United States and has a particular interest in projects from emerging markets such as Brazil, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Africa, and Turkey. 

In order to facilitate the development of innovative products and interventions, the fund encourages financial institutions and researchers to work together in developing and proposing expressions of interest. This approach seeks to integrate the business approach and operational expertise of practitioners with the academic rigor of impact evaluation as well as insights from marketing, pedagogy, and behavioral economics that researchers bring to the table.  

Each application must be presented by a team consisting of (i) one or more financial service providers planning to implement the product or intervention proposed and (ii) one or more researchers involved in the design of the intervention and responsible for carrying out a rigorous evaluation of the program.  Researchers must be affiliated with a research institution or a university and either hold a PhD or be a current PhD candidate in a relevant social science or engineering discipline, such as economics, statistics, sociology, anthropology, psychology, public health, education, and computer science.  They must demonstrate experience in field research.                            

If you are a practitioner or researcher seeking to identify partners with whom to develop a research idea, please apply to participate in a matchmaking program that will take place at the IPA Impact and Policy Conference (August 30 - September 1 2012).

Submissions to the competitive fund will be assessed under three project categories. All submitted projects must demonstrate a clear hypothesis and a rigorous study design for a randomized evaluation. Innovative research projects building on existing field experiments will also be accepted under each category.

1)    Product Tests (capped at $75,000 per grant): Grants in this category will be awarded to research projects that use randomized control trials to compare the relative effectiveness of interventions and product features in achieving behavior change.  Grants in this category will typically involve the use of administrative data from implementing institutions with minimal or no dedicated survey data collection.

2)    Product Evaluations (capped at $150,000 per grant): Grants in this category will be awarded to research projects that use randomized control trials to measure the impact of an intervention on the welfare of its users. Grants in this category will typically involve field data collection using surveys combined with administrative data.

3)    Multi-Site Product Tests (capped at $250,000 per grant): Grants in this category will be awarded to research efforts testing the effectiveness of a product or intervention across different countries and settings. Projects will use randomized controlled trials conducted across three or more countries that seek to improve the policy relevance of findings and the richness of tests under different contexts and implementation arrangements. Grants in this category will typically involve the use of administrative data from implementing institutions with minimal or no dedicated survey data collection. The replications should speak to a cohesive theory that incorporates context and mechanism tests and not merely be a proliferation of one evaluation in multiple locations. All sites and partners need not be identified at the time of the Expression of Interest submission (the application will need to be submitted jointly by a researcher and at least one implementing partner in order to be reviewed), but a credible strategy for identifying and managing the replication with additional likely partners should be detailed.

Awards will be given for the implementation of research activities only, implementation costs for the program will not be covered by these funds.

To apply: 
  1. Read carefully the Application Guidelines (download here)
  2. Fill in the Application Form here (download here)
  3. Submit to [email protected]

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The Citi IPA Financial Capability Research Fund is supported by the Citi Foundation and managed by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA).

Please direct all questions to [email protected].