Date of release: Friday, March 6, 2009

A1643---Leverhulme-fundingThe Leverhulme Trust is to fund a three-year research project of over 200,000 at the University of Greenwich, aimed at improving financial services for some of the poorest people in the world.

The initiative will focus on microfinance, which helps people in developing countries to climb out of poverty by allowing them to save safely, insure against risks and fund small businesses. Looking at how people and organisations collaborate in the provision of microfinance on three continents, researchers will study microfinance systems in Peru, India and Tanzania.

In an innovative move, the Principal Investigator and Project Director, Dr Ana Marr, together with experts in social network analysis and computer scientists, will map the relationships between organisations which provide microfinance in the developing world. Using the university’s sophisticated modelling tools, they will study the ways in which collaboration between microfinance institutions, private investors, regulators and other partners can be improved, in order to achieve the dual goals of helping reduce poverty and becoming financially sustainable.

Dr Marr says: “We hope to solve one of the persistent problems of microfinance: how to create financially sustainable organisations that remain true to their goal of helping to reduce poverty worldwide.

“Around the world, demand for microfinance is growing. Many agencies are funding microfinance initiatives, yet many projects are unstable or fail altogether.

“Different partners in the process may have different objectives, and there may be conflict about which is the more important goal: reducing poverty or creating a strong, financially stable microfinance organisation. Our work will make recommendations to help all partners in the process to work more closely together to achieve both of these aims.”

The Leverhulme grant will involve four senior academics working part-time on the project, as well as a research assistant and PhD student. Their findings will be developed into a practical computer-based tool which will support the decision-making of staff working in microfinance organisations, along with a web site, CDs and DVDs. The project’s conclusions will also be shared in a series of workshops in Peru, India and Tanzania and an international conference at the University of Greenwich in London – as well as through journal papers, executive briefing papers and a book.

Note to Editors

The Leverhulme Trust was established in 1925 under the Will of the first Lord Leverhulme. It is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing funds of some 40 million every year. For further information about the schemes that the Leverhulme Trust funds visit their website at

For images or more information please contact:

Lauren Rose, Public Relations

University of Greenwich

Tel: 020 8331 9420