1st CDC ERG Call on Development Finance

Application to this call is now closed. Proposals submitted by 15 November 2020 will be considered for funding.

The Private Enterprise Development in Low-Income Countries (PEDL) initiative is glad to announce an expansion of its programme. PEDL will now be receiving applications for projects researching the role of development finance: investments in private sector development that are impact-led but commercially rigorous. Please note that for this call, a one-page expression of interest is required before applications are submitted. EOIs must be submitted by 1 November 2020 to [email protected]. EOIs should clearly state the relevance of the research to CDC Group.

CDC Group, the UK’s development finance institution, and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) are sponsoring this new research initiative aimed at understanding the impact of development finance on private sector development. Issues of interest include the effect of investment on private sector growth; the characteristics of high-growth firms and how they impact on their sectors and localities; supporting decent work and gender; and production and distribution of broader inclusive products and services. Researchers will ideally partner with specific CDC investments, or alternatively work with other businesses sufficiently comparable to build our understanding of the importance of investment in private sector growth.  We are especially interested in expanding the role of data science to create new understanding and improve decision-making. Issues of particular relevance include:

  • What is the impact of larger-scale investment on private sector development in Africa and South Asia?
  • What types of firms create stable, inclusive, productive employment that allow workers to build human capital through working; when and why does this job creation happen? What do we know about displacement effects and the gig economy?
  • CDC invests in infrastructure, especially electricity, telecommunications and logistics (e.g. ports, warehouses). What is the impact of infrastructure investments on private sector productivity?  What is the impact on citizens’ lives? See this evidence review for our impact framework and some open questions. 
  • CDC invests in financial institutions. What types of financial services have most impact for business productivity and individual wellbeing? See this evidence review for our impact framework and some open questions.
  • CDC has a growing climate finance portfolio. See its climate strategy; how can private sector investment support ‘Paris Alignment’: net zero economies, Just Transition, and adaptation and resilience?

Researchers wishing to discuss any issues not apparent from CDC’s website are encouraged to arrange a slot at two ‘open-house’ sessions with CDC’s in-house evaluation team on 16 October and 23 October (email [email protected] to book a slot).

ERGs are grants of between £10,000 and £40,000. These grants will fund research assistance, data collection and new surveys in LICs, and (if necessary) teaching buyouts for the principal investigator. Please note that cost effectiveness and value for money are important evaluation criteria and costs considered to be unreasonable may result in a lower proposal rating. Please refer to the ERG budget guidelines for further guidance on research stipends.


Grant Set-up:

ERG projects typically run for 12 months.

Please note that contracts should be signed within one month of the outcome notification, which is also the expected start date for the projects.

ERGs are designed to be contracted directly with individual researchers. The individual researcher will be responsible for receiving, spending and reporting on funds. There should be no institutional involvement. In exceptional circumstances and with significant justification contracts can be drafted with the individual's institution, but these are non-negotiable and the institution cannot take any overhead fees.

For further information on ERGs, please consult the FAQs.


Country Criteria:

Please note that an important criterion for funding of proposals is the relevance to understanding the impact of CDC’s investments. CDC Group’s current mandate is Africa and South Asia. Proposals for projects outside the focus countries should make a clear case for the relevance of the research to policy in lower-income countries, and also justify why the research is feasible only in non-target countries. Note that, at the moment, we are unable to fund projects located in Myanmar and Palestine.


COVID-19 (updated):

Researchers whose proposals rely on face-to-face surveys or interventions should clearly discuss the implications for the project of potential delays, and the alternatives to face-to-face field work, in the event that the fieldwork is delayed by COVID-19. This can be included in the methodology section of the proposal template.  Any fieldwork will need to be cleared by university and, where possible, in-country IRBs. Decisions on fieldwork should follow the advice of governments. Finally, any proposal that includes face-to-face interaction should also briefly make clear how the researchers intend to ensure the safety of researchers and any participants involved in the study. If you have questions on this, please contact Ed Sellers at [email protected].



The 1st CDC ERG call on Development Finance under the PEDL initiative is now closed.

Proposals submitted by 23:59 GMT on 15 November 2020 will be considered for funding. Proposals submitted after this time will be considered under the next regular ERG call.



  • All applicants are required to use the templates listed below under "Resources"
  • Please note that at the beginning of your online application, you will need to select "I am applying to a special Exploratory Research Grant call"




Information Pre-Application:

Application Templates:

For PEDL Grant Holders: