Career-building support for research on employment and growth
In 2017, 29 teams and their 143 researchers joined the growing ranks of grantees benefiting from the career-building support of the Partnership for Economic Policy (PEP). The research projects, to be carried out in 22 countries, emerged from a rigorous selection process that began with 420 applicants responding to several calls for proposals in 2016.
PEP has raised research capacity-building to a fine art. Their Policy Analysis on Growth and Employment (PAGE) program takes applicants and selected teams through a research support process comprising mentorship, several stages of evaluation, peer-review, and training in knowledge translation. In June 2017, up to two members of shortlisted teams attended the partnership’s Annual Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, where they underwent four days of training. The agenda included technical sessions specific to their research methods, in addition to general training on policy engagement and communicating research findings.
Partially funded by IDRC, PAGE currently focuses on youth employment, women’s economic empowerment, entrepreneurship, financial inclusion, and economic growth, with priority given to researchers in low-income countries and fragile states. The UK Department for International Development also supports the program.
A strong focus on women’s economic empowerment
One third of the 29 projects are led by women and a similar number focus primarily on gender issues. Using various methodological approaches, the gender projects will document the barriers and challenges limiting women’s full participation in the economy. A team from Mongolia, for example, is documenting the impact of access to free childcare on women's paid work and the cognitive development of children. A team in Nicaragua is studying how micro-financing products could better target rural women’s micro-enterprises.
Grantees reaching key audiences
In an earlier phase running from 2012 to 2016, PAGE supported 65 projects in 34 countries that involved 274 researchers, many of whom have seen the impact of PEP’s research capacity-building in their careers. In 2016, 52% of the participating researchers reported having experienced career-promoting events that were due, at least in part, to their involvement in a PAGE-supported project.
Abdoulaye Seck, for example, was invited to present his conclusions on promoting youth and female entrepreneurship in Senegal at the Eighth Annual Conference on Business and Entrepreneurship in Africa, held in October 2017 in Richmond, Virginia. Seck’s paper drew on findings from several PAGE projects, highlighted ongoing knowledge gaps, and recommended policy options. His participation at the conference gave him the opportunity to discuss his work with academic researchers, business professionals, and government officials from around the world.
Another early PAGE grantee, Thierry Kame Babilla, presented his team’s findings about the impact of limited access to credit on female entrepreneurship in Cameroon at the 2017 IMF Conference on Gender and Macroeconomics in Washington, D.C. His paper was one of 25 selected from more than 1,000 submissions. “Our project received unprecedented international attention. Many organizations, many people approached us to try to get the results and to collaborate,” he told IDRC. These exchanges may lead to others replicating the project in Africa.
Up to 50 research teams benefiting from support
PEP will be announcing the results of more recent calls for proposals in the coming months. The number of PAGE-supported teams in this second phase is expected to reach 50. The team members involved will strengthen their research capacity, benefit from a unique peer exchange and international networking experience, and contribute much needed policy-relevant evidence on growth and employment in developing countries.