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Exploratory Research Grants

The Private Enterprise Development in Low-Income Countries (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.

PEDL will support approaches that promise to produce credible research results that will be useful for policy-making. It will promote research related to private enterprises of all sizes and will initially focus on four research themes:

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

Proposals that address the following cross-cutting issues will be encouraged.

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

Exploratory Grants are research grants of between £10,000 and £40,000 that are designed to allow researchers to:

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

Grant set-up:

Exploratory Research Grant (ERG) projects will 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.


Please note that an important criterion for funding of proposals is the relevance to policy in Low-Income Countries and other eligible countries as defined by the PEDL Programme. See the list of LICs and DFID focus countries here. Note that, at the moment, we are unable to fund projects located in Myanmar and Palestine.


The deadline for the 30th ERG round is 11.59pm GMT on July 31, 2019. Applications received after this time will be considered for the next ERG round.


Project Overview (for more information about PEDL and its themes)

How to apply for an Exploratory Grant

NEW Budget Guidelines - these guidelines are applicable for all applications made on or after the 15th of February 2019

Application Templates:

For PEDL Grant Holders: