4th Special ERG Call for Proposals from Scholars based in Low-Income Countries (CLOSED)

Application to this call is now closed. Please see the list of open and upcoming calls here.

PEDL invites applications from scholars in low-income countries to the fourth of this special ERG call. A key goal of the ERG programme is to encourage research on issues related to private enterprise development in low-income countries by scholars within these countries. To date, the ERG programme has funded more than 170 projects, many of which have involved research carried out by LIC-based researchers.

While LIC-based researchers are eligible to apply to any ERG funding round, we are issuing a special call exclusively for LIC-based researchers in order to encourage broader participation in the programme. Our three previous special calls for LIC-based researchers have resulted in 15 projects being funded. Moreover, these grantees have been invited to participate in two-day workshops, in the days immediately preceding the annual PEDL Conference, which they have been invited to attend. The workshops have given all the awardees a chance to present and receive feedback on their projects or proposals, as well as to network with PEDL grant holders and other researchers working on firms in LICs.

Applicants must be currently employed by an insitution based in an LIC to be eligible for this special call. If unsure, country criteria can be found below.

We encourage applicants to propose a two-stage budget, requesting up to £10,000 for initial pilot work and then additional funds conditional on the pilot showing that the full project is promising.


PEDL ERG Initiative:

The PEDL programme pursues a research agenda that aims to better understand what determines the strength of market forces driving efficiency in low-income countries (LICs). Existing research suggests that the private sector in LICs faces a multitude of constraints that act upon each other. What is needed is research that allows us to understand how these constraints interact.

The objective of PEDL is to fund cutting-edge, policy-oriented research that could be published in leading academic journals and be relevant to the policy dialogue in LICs. It will promote research related to private enterprises of all sizes and invites applications in any aspect of private sector development, with a particular emphasis on PEDL’s four priority research areas:

  • Market frictions, management and organizations
  • Trade and macro models - agglomeration and spatial location of firms
  • High growth entrepreneurship
  • Social compliance and the environment

We also particularly encourage proposals that address one or more of PEDL’s three cross-cutting themes:

  • Fragile and conflict affected states
  • Gender
  • Unlocking data for understanding markets and firms

ERGs are designed to allow researchers to:

  • explore new approaches to the study of firms in LICs; and
  • to develop new (or build on) existing sources of data on firms in LICs.

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 policy in LICs and other eligible countries as defined by the PEDL Programme. See the list of LICs and DFID focus countries here. 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 we are currently unable to fund projects located in Myanmar and Palestine.



Given the current situation, PEDL is very unlikely to support projects that require face-to-face interaction. We encourage proposals that make use of existing administrative data or collect information through other means such as phone surveys so long as this is feasible and won’t diminish the quality of the data collected. If you have questions on this, please contact Ed Sellers at [email protected].


Applications should be submitted by 23:59 BST, 30 April 2019 (CLOSED). Those received after this time will be considered for the next regular ERG round.

More information on how to apply as well as access to the online application form are available here.

When applying, please make it clear that you are applying to the PhD 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"
  • This a special call for proposals from scholars based in low-income countries. For this special call, all principal investigators and senior collaborating researchers must be based in low-income countries. Please see the list of LICs here.
  • Please note that South Sudan also counts as an eligible LIC.
  • Also note that young scholars are encouraged to include a letter for support from an advisor or senior colleague.




Information Pre-Application:

Application Templates:

For PEDL Grant Holders: