In partnership with the International Development Research Centre, TrustAfrica operates a special fund to promote enterprise and livelihoods in Africa through research and advocacy. Known as the Investment Climate & Business Environment (ICBE) Research Fund, in its first phase it awarded roughly US$1,481,000 in research grants. In 2010 we lauched the second phase, which provided an additional US$2.5 million for cutting-edge research over a three-year period. We are intent on building knowledge about investment policies and business practices that accelerate human development and fuel broadly shared prosperity.
The fund has generated research and knowledge that has influenced policy on enterprise development (especially SMEs) in many countries in Africa. It has also built a solid foundation of partnerships and enhanced the capacity of groups undertaking this work. For more about the fund’s accomplishments, click here.
Over the past two decades, Africa has achieved remarkable economic growth, outpacing most other regions in the world. Yet the benefits of greater investment and higher returns have been heavily concentrated among small segments of the population. Africa’s future hinges on its ability to develop markets that benefit the whole of society. Disparities from policies that hinder the majority of the continent’s people and businesses, especially small and medium-scale enterprises, keep them at a great disadvantage.
Featured at the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative, the ICBE Research Fund uses competitive research grant mechanisms, training workshops and partnerships between business schools and private-sector organizations to contribute to a better investment climate and business environment in Africa. The Fund operates in English and French and includes all regions of the African continent.
Our first two calls for proposals, issued in June 2006 and August 2007, drew 306 submissions from universities, business schools and independent research consultants in 33 African countries. For each round of funding, we engaged peer reviewers to grade the proposals and convened a pan-African jury to select the winners. In all, we awarded 31 small grants of up to $10,000 each, 20 intermediate grants of up to $50,000 each and three large grants of up to $100,000 each.
Our second phase drew fewer submissions (243 submissions after two calls for proposals) but our reach was far greater, attracting responses from 47 African countries. This time, we awarded 21 small grants of up to $10,000 each, 27 intermediate grants of up to $50,000 each and ten large grants of up to $100,000. This time, we added a round of funding and selected some applicants from underrepresented countries whose proposals were initially rejected. After training them on how to write good proposals, a team of experts reviewed the revised proposals and awarded grants accordingly, in an attempt to increase the reach of the ICBE program.