ISSER Launches Multi-Million-Dollar Research Initiative to Deepen Digital Financial Inclusion in LMICs

The Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) has launched a new multi-million-dollar research initiative, the Retail Finance Distribution (ReFinD), focused on digital financial inclusion and improving access to financial services in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The event also saw the announcement of the first request for proposals.

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the ReFinD research initiative will see qualified research teams, including researchers based at ISSER and those in other locations in Ghana, Africa, and elsewhere around the globe, implement competitively selected projects on the topic. Recommendations and associated outputs will be aimed at promoting access to finance among marginalised groups such as women and people experiencing poverty.

The initiative was launched by the Secretary-General for African Research Universities Alliance and former Vice-Chancellor, UG, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, who chaired the event. He was assisted by members of the ReFinD management team (Prof. Peter Quartey, Prof. Francis Annan, Dr. David Ameyaw and Mr. Carl Ashie);and the representative from the BMGF, Mr. Seth Garz, with the support of the Head of Research, Bank of Ghana (BoG), Mr. Philip Otoo, who participated virtually representing the Governor, Dr. Ernest Addison.

Prof. Aryeetey Launching the Project with Members of the ReFinD Management Team and a Representative from BMGF, Seth Garz

Prof. Aryeetey thanked the theBMGF and underscored the importance of the funding support in helping ISSER advance its trailblazing work on financial inclusion studies in Ghana and West Africa.

“I am very pleased that with support from the BMGF, ISSER is in a position to contribute in a significant way to understanding how poor households can use new digital means to access finance,” he said.

In a statement delivered on the BoG Governor’s behalf by Mr. Otoo, he pledged the Central Bank’s commitment to support the research initiative and engage in further dialogue.

In brief remarks, Mr. Garzhighlighted the goal of the BMGF to ensure people in vulnerable societies can have access to tools that smooth out consumption during hard times, adding:“It’s our hope that this research initiative continues to elevate the incredible work that ISSER is doing…”

Earlier in his welcome statement, Prof. Quartey acknowledged the BMGF, project staff and management team of ReFinD, the faculty and staff of ISSER, and particularly the team of researchers who worked closely with him to bring the research initiative to life.

“On behalf of everyone at ISSER, I can confidently say that we are fully committed to realising this important undertaking. I am hopeful of what we can achieve together when we combine our expertise, networks, and commitments,” he said.

Other highlights of the event were presentations on the overview, and framework paper of the research initiative, and video presentations on pipeline projects in Ghana, Indonesia, and Bangladesh.

The event was attended by representatives from banks, fintechs, and the media. Also present were Deans, Directors, faculty, staff and students of ISSER.

A View of Participants at the Launch