BIGD’s WEE-DiFine initiative launches first RFP

Find out more about the WEE-DiFine Initiative

Access to the internet and information and communication technologies (ICTs) has created new opportunities for financial inclusion. These digital financial services (DFS) have lower transaction costs, do not face the same geographic constraints, and tend to be safer than their traditional counterparts. Despite these technological advances, 1.7 billion adults are still unbanked; those without access to financial services tend to be poorer, and furthermore, globally, 56% of the unbanked are women.

Understanding what happens after women have access to DFS is of great interest to policymakers and technology designers and advocates. With this in mind, the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) at Brac University in Dhaka, Bangladesh, formed the WEE-DiFine initiative. This initiative is aimed at generating a body of rigorous evidence that unpacks the causal mechanisms between DFS and women’s economic empowerment (WEE). The four-year initiative, which will provide research funding for five areas of research projects in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, is proud to announce its first request for proposals (RFP).

Why WEE-DiFine?

Financial inclusion is necessary for economic growth and lowering rates of poverty. Despite increased access to DFS, persistent divides still exist. Barriers to women’s digital financial access which can broadly be attributed to laws and regulations, limited digital financial infrastructure, and lack of access to IDs and technology needed to obtain an account.

Research suggests that financial inclusion can be transformative for women and their families. When women have the ability to save and access credit, we see greater household savings and investments in education as well as increased bargaining power for women. This growing body of work still leaves the causal mechanisms between DFS and WEE understudied. To help identify these research gaps, WEE-DiFine published a white paper that explores DFS and WEE in great detail, highlighting the areas where more research is needed. These priority areas and research questions are the main areas the RFP seeks to address.

Request for Proposals

Those interested in submitting a proposal are encouraged to read the full RFPs as well as the white paper. The RFP outlines the five areas of research projects ranging from pilot studies to greenfield RCTs.

While proposals will be accepted until November 25, 2020, this is just the first of several RFPs the initiative will publish.

This post was last updated on October 27, 2020.