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Cambridge Judge Business School faculty members secure funding for innovative research in Africa

Cambridge Judge faculty Jaideep Prabhu and Shai Vyakarnam have received funding awards to research opportunities for social enterprise, solar technology and mobile-based financial services in Uganda and Ghana.

Research in AfricaJaideep and Shai have secured two of 29 funding awards from the Cambridge-Africa Alborada Research Fund. The fund enables faculty across all disciplines at the University of Cambridge to apply, jointly with a partner at a sub-Saharan African university or research institution, for grants from the Alborada Trust.

Named for legendary racehorse Alborada, twice winner of the Newmarket Champion Stakes, the trust assists with projects throughout the world that promote education and work to relieve poverty, human suffering and illness.

The Alborada Fund grants enable the project collaborators to travel between Cambridge and Africa, and to conduct research and training activities in Africa.

Jaideep, an expert on frugal innovation, is Jawaharlal Nehru Professor of Indian Business & Enterprise at CJBS. He will collaborate with Dr Bruno Lule Yawe of Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, on a project to explore the effect of mobile money technology adoption on financial literacy and financial inclusion in Uganda. He said:

I am delighted to be the co-recipient with Dr Bruno Yawe of a Cambridge-Africa Alborada Research Fund award. Dr Yawe and I will be working on the adoption of mobile-based financial services by low-income communities in Africa and elsewhere. East African countries such as Kenya have been at the forefront of the development and adoption of frugal mobile-based financial services such as M-Pesa. Studying these successes in order to understand how they may be replicated in other countries is an important research topic with significant implications for wealth creation and poverty reduction around the world.

Shai, who is Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at CJBS and has worked with thousands of new ventures, will use his funding to work with Dr Mutunzi Ahmed Kitunzi, also of Makerere University, on viable investment opportunities for social enterprises in Uganda and Ghana, specifically on exploring the opportunities for advanced solar technology in the two countries. Shai said:

Solar technologies are evolving very quickly as this inexhaustible source of energy is harnessed for the millions of people who are off-grid, or whose electricity supply is unreliable. But the deployment of the technology continues to be a challenge. This project will explore how to stimulate entrepreneurship (social enterprises and private sector ventures) in solar technologies – something that will be invaluable for understanding how to scale up the use of solar technologies in a way that boosts wealth and job creation.

Director of Research for Cambridge Judge Business School, Stelios Kavadias, said the research projects were exciting and necessary:

“I am delighted that Jaideep and Shai have secured this funding for such worthwhile projects. Both bring vast depth of skills to these research endeavours – Jaideep has amazing insight and expertise into frugal innovation and Shai has enormous experience of helping start-ups and new ventures. Their expertise and determination to bring about change will ensure that these projects deliver something very valuable.”