J-PAL's African Scholars Program

J-PAL is invested in creating more opportunities for African researchers to develop and drive the research agenda on the African continent through the use of randomized evaluations.

The African Scholars Program provides funding, mentorship, and training opportunities to African researchers. The program is currently offered through four of J-PAL’s initiatives—JOI, DigiFI, DAISI, LAI—meaning that scholars can apply for funding in those topic areas.

About the Program

The African Scholars Program provides several opportunities to African researchers.


  • Formative research: Proposal development grant (up to $10,000)
  • Formative research: Pilot grant (up to $75,000)
  • Monitoring systems (up to $75,000) [DigiFI only]
  • Full randomised evaluations (up to $400,000)

For more information on each of these funding opportunities, please see our African Scholar FAQs.

Application support and mentorship

During the application process, J-PAL staff are available to provide African Scholar teams with light-touch assistance on their proposals. For Scholars who receive funding, targeted mentorship by a J-PAL affiliate or invited researcher will be provided. African Scholars may either identify an eligible mentor before submitting a proposal or be matched with a mentor by J-PAL staff after their proposal has been selected. It is not necessary to have an existing relationship with a mentor in order to apply.

Webinars and workshops

Throughout the year, J-PAL Africa staff run webinars and workshops on topics such as supporting the development of proposals for various initiatives and providing a platform for Scholars to share their work.

For example, DigiFI hosted a four-part webinar series that covers some of the fundamentals of running randomised evaluations that can be found on this page and JOI hosted a webinar at the launch of their Spring 2022 RFP on JOI's research agenda and funding opportunities for African Scholars.

To receive updates on future events, please register in our African Scholars database.


Two categories of African Scholars are eligible to receive funding and support under our programs:

  • Resident African Scholars include those who have completed a PhD in economics or related field and are based at an African academic institution. 
  • Non-resident African Scholars include those who completed high school in Africa, have a PhD in economics or related field, and are based at an academic institution outside of Africa.

DigiFI Africa funds both resident and non-resident African Scholars while JOI and DAISI only fund resident African Scholars based in Sub-Saharan Africa. Note that only one member of a research team has to meet the definition of African Scholar for the team to be eligible for funding.

Research areas

Currently, four of J-PAL’s Initiatives are running the African Scholars Program and each has a specific research scope:

Digital Identification and Finance Initiative in Africa (DigiFI Africa)

DigiFI aims to generate rigorous evidence on how African governments, private companies, and NGOs can leverage digital payments and identification systems to improve lives through better public service delivery, governance, and financial inclusion.

For more information on African Scholars opportunities at DigiFi please click here.

Jobs and Opportunity Initiative (JOI)

JOI aims to generate a body of policy-relevant rigorous research that addresses pressing labor market challenges. Knowledge gaps include questions about supply and matching, job creation, and the future of jobs.

For more information on African Scholars opportunities at JOI please click here.

Digital Agricultural Innovations and Services Initiative (DAISI)

DAISI aims to generate a rigorous evidence base that carefully identifies whether digital tools and bundled approaches are successful in improving smallholder farmer outcomes, connecting farmers to markets, and expanding commercialization in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

For more information on African Scholars opportunities at DAISI, please click here.

Learning for All Initiative (LAI)

LAI aims to generate a body of policy-relevant rigorous research to improve student learning outcomes by addressing foundational literacy and numeracy, pedagogy, holistic skills, and barriers to equity and inclusion, particularly for girls.

For more information on African Scholars opportunities at LAI, please click here.

Additional information on the African Scholars Program can be found in our African Scholars FAQs

Evaluations by African Scholars

To date, J-PAL has funded 35 African Scholar led projects in 12 countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

A map of African countries where J-PAL funded evaluations have occurred.

A list of funded studies is provided below, grouped by initiative.

Digital Identification and Finance Initiative (DigiFI)

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