DigiFI Request for Proposals
DigiFI is currently accepting proposals. Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
Overview of RFP process
DigiFI is accepting proposals. Applications are open on a rolling basis and will be reviewed every few weeks. If a quicker response is required, please write to us and we get back to you as soon as possible.
This call is open to J-PAL affiliates and DigiFI Invited Researchers, as well as to African scholars. Funding follows the usual funding categories - proposal development grants (up to $10,000), pilot grants (up to $75,000) and full RCTs (up to $400,000). The research topics should fall within the scope of DigiFI as laid out in the DigiFI framing paper, and can be in partnership with a government, private sector or NGO with a focus on sub Saharan Africa. Please note that the research does not need to be focused on Covid-19. Please direct any questions to [email protected]
Proposals for funding consists of two stages:
Step 1: Please fill out the pre-proposal form. We will respond to that within 3 weeks and let you know if you should submit a proposal.
Step 2: On receiving a positive response to the pre-proposal form from the DigiFI team, please fill out the DigiFI Rolling Application. We aim to respond to your proposal within 4 weeks after this submission.
Please let us know if you would like an excel version of these forms to assist with coordination of collaborative submissions.
Research funding opportunities
For this round of grants, DigiFI Africa is accepting the following categories of proposals: Proposal Development grants (up to $10,000), Pilot studies (up to $75,000), and Full-Scale RCTs (up to $400,000).
DigiFI aims to fill this evidence gap by funding cutting edge research projects focused on the study of innovative government, private sector, and NGO payment systems and ID reforms. The landscape of these themes is outlined in the DigiFI Africa framing paper.
J-PAL affiliates, J-PAL postdocs, and DigiFI Africa invited researchers are eligible to apply for any type of DigiFI Africa funding.
Resident African Scholars, who are based at an African academic institution based in Sub-Saharan Africa and who are outside of the eligible J-PAL network stated above, are eligible to initially apply for Proposal Development Grants and Pilot Grants. Non-resident African Scholars are also eligible to apply for the same categories of funding. Non-resident African scholars are those who have completed high school in Africa, have completed their PhD, and are based in an academic institution outside of Africa. Targeted mentorship will be provided to African Scholars who receive funds from the Initiative. Full RCT funding eligibility is extended to African Scholars who have successfully completed a pilot funded by J-PAL.
PhD students may be eligible to apply for proposal development grants or up to $75,000 in pilot or full-scale funding. To be eligible, PhD students must have a J-PAL affiliate or DigiFI Africa invited researcher on their thesis committee.
The DigiFI Africa initiative spans Africa, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. DigiFI Africa network researchers are encouraged to submit proposals for research conducted in the focus region, in partnership with governments and local implementing organizations.
Please complete the application requirements included in overview and application documents, and email to [email protected]
Frequently asked questions
I think I have a great idea, but I’m not sure if it fits or how interesting it would be to DigiFI. Could I have a call with someone from the DigiFI team?
YES! We encourage you to get in touch ([email protected]). We are always happy to talk more about your ideas and to think through the process with you.
What is a pilot?
Pilot proposals generally have a very clear research question and lay the groundwork for a full randomized evaluation. A pilot requires a partnership with an implementing partner but in contrast to full proposals—which require a fully developed method of randomization, clear outcome measures, power calculations, and a scale-up plan—a pilot proposal should be at earlier stages of project development. Pilots generally are used to test the logistical viability of the program and/or the take up of the program in order to assess the impacts in a larger study in the future. It does not have to employ a randomization strategy and can be based on administrative or survey data.
Pilot proposals must clearly articulate the conceptual and methodological distinction between the pilot study and any future follow-on studies, and what exactly the pilot will enable researchers to learn. It is expected that pilot studies will function to assess the feasibility of a full study by establishing research protocols, informing sample size and detectable effects, and assessing implementation processes. Pilots grants are appropriate for projects requesting funds to conduct pre-randomization activities.
Pilot studies can:
- Acquire data that is qualitative and quantitative in nature;
- Test the efficacy of an intervention or an evaluation design; and/or
- Develop a high frequency process monitoring system (i.e. help select African governments track progress and challenges among a representative sample of targeted beneficiaries). Monitoring systems allow organizations to track the progress of programs by relying on rapidly collected data and easily interpretable data visualization/analytics. Although these systems may vary in form, a well-functioning system usually includes basic analysis on data set(s) and simple dynamic reporting. The goals of the high frequency monitoring systems would include assessing efficacy of the status quo and/or changes implemented and systematically collecting ongoing dynamic client feedback. Data from these monitoring systems can then inform the design of the RCTs, while also building credibility and trust with the partner government.
What do you mean by “high frequency process monitoring”?
Government officials facing short-term political cycles may be reluctant to agree to full-fledged experiments or other large-scale studies that may not yield definitive results for one to three years. In these cases, we encourage research teams to work with the partner government to develop high-frequency monitoring systems or initial pilot studies to help select African governments track progress and challenges among a representative sample of targeted beneficiaries. The goals of the high frequency monitoring systems would include assessing efficacy of the status quo and/or changes implemented and systematically collecting ongoing feedback and data to evaluate particular features of these systems. This may involve outbound call systems to assess whether beneficiaries receive benefits, how much time this took, whether beneficiaries faced any technical challenges, whether anyone requested a bribe, and so on. This could be complemented by analysis of the administration data of the scheme. Such process information can then be aggregated into dashboards for public sector administrators to use in monitoring progress on the ground. Data from these monitoring systems can then inform the design of the RCTs, while also building credibility and trust with the partner government.
What can DigiFI do in terms of staff support for our research in the initial stages of project development?
DigiFI staff can assist with the following:
- Connections to policymakers in priority countries as well as provide information on the RFP and framing paper priorities.
- Upon request, support on policy outreach including: Initial meetings with policymakers, coordination with other projects, and at a later stage, sharing of results with memos, events and conference presentations.
- Clarification on the Initiative’s research priorities and on eligibility for potential projects.