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Queens Anniversary Prizes 2015

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Professor Ana Marr

Professor of International Development Economics
Director, International Microfinance Research Group
BSc, MSc, PhD
Department of International Business and Economics, The Business School
Food and Markets Department, Natural Resources Institute, Faculty of Engineering and Science

Biography

Professor Ana Marr is Professor of International Development Economics, conducting research on the interaction between finance, development and poverty reduction. She joined the University of Greenwich in 2002 and presently works for the Business School and for the Natural Resources Institute. Prior to this, she held research positions at the London School of Economics, the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, and the Overseas Development Institute in London.

Professor Marr is currently Principal Investigator of a major three-year research project on optimal packaging of finance for smallholders (http://agricreditplus.nri.org/), jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID), leading a large international team of researchers from Europe and Africa. Previously, Professor Marr has been Principal Investigator of numerous large-scale research projects, including a four-year project on the dual goals of microfinance funded by the Leverhulme Trust (2009-12), a three-year ESRC-funded project on microfinance and poverty reduction (2000-2), and a three-year DFID-funded project on financial markets for the poor (1997-9). She has also been the Director of the International Microfinance Research Group since 2007.

Her research has helped advance knowledge particularly in the quest for effective financial services and mechanisms that can contribute towards reducing poverty in developing countries. The range of Professor Marr's research has been applied in a variety of contexts, including urban micro-enterprises, fisheries communities, agricultural smallholder farmers and larger multinational organisations. The value of her research has become evident in a large number of peer-reviewed publications, conference papers and workshop presentations, which have produced positive impact on academia, practice and policy-making, and have guided the industry towards effective ways to combine finance with other inputs.

Professor Marr's extensive international research experience includes field research in Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Thailand), Africa (Kenya, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and Latin America (Bolivia, Colombia and Peru). Funding for her research has been competitively obtained from DFID, ESRC, World Bank, the German Aid Agency (GIZ), European Union (EU), CARE-International, NEPAD and Farm-Africa, among others.

Professor Marr is a Fellow Member of the ESRC Peer Review College and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Iberoamerican Journal of Development Studies, and of the Editorial Advisory Board of the journal Economics. She also acts as reviewer for the international journals World Development, Journal of Development Studies and Journal of International Development and publishes extensively on related research issues.

She holds a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London and an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics – both supported by full scholarships, awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council and by the London School of Economics, respectively.

Research/Scholarly Interests

Professor Marr's areas of research include: Microfinance, financial market development, wholesale finance, pro-poor credit, rural finance for smallholder farmers, poverty reduction, business development services, social capital, development economics, financial services for enterprise development, entrepreneurship, finance for SMEs and small businesses, private capital flows, foreign direct investment, international trade and financial institutions' conditionality.

During the past 20 years, Professor Marr has advanced knowledge particularly in the quest for effective financial services that can help reduce poverty in developing countries. Her approach is to combine qualitative and quantitative research methods and work in collaboration with international partners in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. In this manner, her research has been influential at the academic, practice and policy-making levels. The value of her research work lies in identifying possible balance between the power of microfinance in achieving financial sustainability while trying to help reduce poverty, and how this can be done via effective partnerships. This has led her to enter into new research areas. Thus, Professor Marr is now investigating optimal packaging of financial services that can be designed and tested in order to help increase agricultural productivity in developing countries. This promises to be a ground-breaking piece of research and it is being funded by ESRC-DFID.

Current and Previous Funded Research Projects

Optimal Packaging of Credit and Insurance for Smallholder Farmers in Africa
Principal Investigator, 2014–2017, funded by ESRC-DFID, £745,778

Research jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID); grant awarded under open international competition. Grant Reference Number: ES/L012235/1. The research is innovative in its approach to studying the interactions between microfinance, insurance and inputs markets, and aims at overcoming the constraints of market imperfections by identifying optimal packages of financial services that can lead to greater agricultural productivity amongst the most deprived farmers in Africa.

Optimising the Dual Goals of Microfinance
Principal Investigator, 2009–2013, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, @£220,000

Award won under open external competition. Grant Reference Number: F/00 345/D. The research investigates how collaboration in microfinance can be improved in order to achieve the dual goals of poverty reduction and financial sustainability. Extensive fieldwork was conducted in India, Peru and Tanzania. This research was highly influential in the area of microfinance, guiding the industry into effective ways to combine financial services and enter into partnerships.

Robust Coffee Development Project
Senior Financial Specialist, 2013–2015, funded by EU, £1,182,051

The project investigates alternative ways to improve coffee production in Sierra Leone. This includes scientific research as well as financial and business capacity building of farmers associations. The research is needed to help poor farmers in Sierra Leone to regenerate coffee production and lift them out of poverty.

Innovative financial mechanisms for improving the livelihoods of rural Afghans currently economically dependent on opium poppy
Principal Investigator, 2004–2007, funded by DFID, £204,030

The project is part of DFID's Research in Alternative Livelihoods Fund (RALF), a component of its assistance programme to Afghanistan. The purpose of RALF is to develop and promote alternative livelihood options for rural Afghans dependent on poppy production and contribute to the overall goal of sustainable elimination of opium poppy production in Afghanistan. The objective of this research project is to develop practical alternatives to the opium-related credit system by investigating and developing financial mechanisms that enable rural Afghans dependent on opium poppy production and sharecropping to adopt alternative livelihood generating activities.

Establishing Fisheries and Aquaculture Investment Partnership
Senior Economist, 2010–2012, funded by NEPAD, £243,816

Action-research project aiming at establishing an investment fund for the fisheries and aquaculture sector in Africa. Partnerships between various stakeholders are necessary to create synergies and investment in the fisheries sector in order to achieve sustainable economic development.

Potential Mechanisms for Increasing the Contribution of the Private Sector to Agricultural Research, Development and Technology Transfer in Bolivia
Principal Investigator, 2003, funded by DFID, £37,125

The project assessed the technical, economic, financial and operational feasibility of various alternative mechanisms to involve the private sector in the development of agricultural processes, including: co-financing schemes; voluntary and compulsory taxation; intellectual property rights; strategies to reduce transaction costs; transmission and management of information; and legal and regulatory reforms.

Final evaluation of the Northern Cape Land Reform & Advocacy Programme in South Africa
Principal Investigator, 2008, funded by FARM-Africa, £10,843

Research included design and implementation of project evaluation, which was influential in decisions to continue with this programme helping black communities in South Africa.

Mid-term evaluation of the Northern Cape Land Reform & Advocacy Programme in South Africa
Principal Investigator, 2006, £8,355

Research included fieldwork in South Africa, collection of original data, organisation of focus-group discussions, analysis and reporting of results. The good performance of this evaluation led to a renewal of contract to undertake the final evaluation of this programme.

Poverty-orientated research on Rural Economic & Enterprise Development (REED)
Senior Financial Specialist, 2004–2006, funded by DFID, £99,950

This project focuses on new pro-poor economic and enterprise development mechanisms for public policy and interventions to enhance poverty outcomes in developing countries. The model and good practice generated guided the development community and national institutions in their support to pro-poor economic and enterprise development. The application of the REED framework provided guidance on pro-poor public policy and institutional support at local and national government levels specifically in South Africa and Bangladesh.

Eastern/Southern Africa warehouse receipts project
Senior Economist, 2004–2006, £737,960

Main activities performed during this project include: (1) Development of a system of commodity trade finance based on inventory collateralisation and warehouse receipts; and testing the system through pilot trade financing; (2) Assisting the PEA in making (i) a basic market information system, and (ii) a quality assurance and certification system, which are already developed in the projects, self-sustainable. The project also covered additional suitable commodities for pilot testing purposes, e.g. cotton and coffee.

Financial services for Badakhshan, Afghanistan
Principal Investigator, 2004, funded by GTZ, £9,339

The purpose of the research was to assess the current financial service provision in the Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan. This is an integral part of a larger project that aims at analysing the suitability of a range of innovative financial mechanisms to improve farmers' livelihoods in Northern Afghanistan.

Impact Assessment of the Family Savings Programme (FSP) CARE-Bangladesh
Principal Investigator, 2004, funded by CARE, £18,060

Study into the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges of this innovative microfinance programme being implemented by CARE-Bangladesh. The specific aims of this project have been: to assess the household livelihood changes of client of the microfinance programme; client profile changes; clients' perceptions regarding the services being provided to them under the FSP product; and the sustainability of potential replicability of the programme. Fieldwork in the slums of Dhaka, included in-depth interviews with some of the poorest segments of the population, clients of the FSP programme, officials of the implementing NGOs, and key informants. Qualitative and quantitative analysis and useful practical recommendations were advanced.

How Can Finance Work for the Poor
Principal Investigator, 1997–1999, funded by DFID, £100,000

Research on the power of microfinance in breaking market imperfections and increasing access to finance by the poor. Country cases included Bangladesh, Bolivia, Colombia, Thailand and Peru. Extensive empirical research carried out on more than a hundred microfinance institutions in developing countries.

How Can Finance Work for the Poor
Principal Investigator, 1998–1999, funded by the Bank of England, £25,000

Funding for additional research in relation to the DFID-funded research project How Can Finance Work for the Poor.

Responsibilities within the University

  • Member of the University Research Ethics Committee (UREC)
  • Professor of International Development Economics
  • Director, International Microfinance Research Group
  • Principal Lecturer of post-graduate courses of MAIB and MSc BFE programmes
  • Principal Economist at the Natural Resources Institute
  • Course Director of Certified Master's course Microfinance and Financial Inclusion
  • Course Director of MAIB MScBFE course Microfinance in International Development
  • Principal Investigator of various research projects funded by ESRC, DFID, Leverhulme Trust, EU, NEPAD, World Bank, among others
  • First supervisor of seven PhD students, including three completions

First Supervisor of PhD students

Completions
Miriam Matzanke (2010–2013)
Cornell Jackson (2009–2012)
Ganka Nyamsogoro (2007–2010)

Current
Marius Meijerink
Thomas Omachi
Catherine Otene
Rosemary Gumba

Selected Publications

Books and Book Chapters
  • Marr, Ana (2015) Tensions between financial and organisational sustainability: The problematic case of group-based microfinance and possible ways forward. In: Sorell, Tom and Cabrera, Luis, (eds.) Microfinance, Rights and Global Justice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 145–162. ISBN 9781107110977
  • Marr, Ana (2014) Tensions between financial and organisational sustainability: the problematic case of group-based microfinance and possible ways forward. In: The Ethics of Microfinance. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. (In Press)
  • Marr, Ana and Yan, Lin (2011) ICT and social inclusion: the case of microfinance in developing countries. In: Impact of E-Business Technologies on Public and Private Organizations: Industry Comparisons and Perspectives. IGI Global, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA. ISBN 9781609605018 (Print) 9781609605025 (eISBN) (doi:10.4018/978-1-60960-501-8)
  • Marr, Ana, Killick, Tony and Gunatilaka, Ramani (1998) Aid and the political economy of policy change. Routledge, London / New York. ISBN 978-0-415-18705-3 (paperback), 978-0-415-18704-6 (hardback), 978-0-203-44653-9 (electronic)
  • Gunatilaka, Ramani and Marr, Ana (1998) Conditionality and adjustment in South East Asia and Latin America. In: Aid and the Political Economy of Policy Change. Routledge, London / New York, pp. 53-84. ISBN 978-0-415-18705-3 (paperback), 978-0-415-18704-6 (hardback), 978-0-203-44653-9 (electronic) (doi:10.4324/9780203446539.ch3)
Refereed Journal Papers And Other Articles

Recent Conference Presentations

  • Marr, Ana. Peer-reviewed paper presenter of: Optimal Packages: A review of impact assessment approaches of bundled insurance, credit and inputs, paper presented at the 4th International Agricultural Risk, Finance and Insurance Conference, Washington D.C., June 2015
  • Marr, Ana. Peer-reviewed paper presenter of: Poverty and Financial Inclusion. In: The 3rd European Research Conference on Microfinance. Norway, 10-12 June 2013.
  • Marr, Ana. Peer-reviewed paper presenter of: Econometric results of financial inclusion in Peru. In: Microfinance and Financial Inclusion in Latin America Workshop. Salamanca, Spain, 31 May-2 June 2013.
  • Marr, Ana, León, Janina and Ponce, Fátima (2012) Financial inclusion of the poor in Peru: explanatory factors and determinants. In: Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association (LACEA) and Latin American Meeting of the Econometric Society (LAMES): 2012 Annual Meetings, 1-3 Nov 2012, Universidad del Pacifico at Lima, Peru.
  • De Vita, Riccardo and Marr, Ana (2012) Interorganisational networks in the microfinance industry: the case of Peru. In: Sunbelt XXXII International Network for Social Network Analysis Annual Conference, 12-18 Mar 2012, Redondo Beach, CA, USA. (Unpublished)
  • Marr, Ana. Convenor and Organiser: The 3rd International Microfinance Conference. Held at University of Greenwich, London, UK, 31 January 2012.
  • Marr, Ana. Convenor and Organiser: The 2nd International Microfinance Conference. Held at University of Greenwich, London, UK, 19 November 2011.
  • Marr, Ana (2011) The challenges of group-based microfinance and suggestions for improvement. In: Contemporary Microfinance: Institutions, Policies and Performance, 5-7 Sep 2011, Cairo, Egypt. (Unpublished)
  • Marr, Ana. Invited paper presenter of: Social Networks and Finance. Universite de la Mediterranee. Aix-Marseille II, France, 6 June 2011.
  • Marr, Ana. Peer-reviewed paper presenter of: Struggles of Financial and Social Goals in Microfinance. In: The Second European Research Conference on Microfinance, Groningen, The Netherlands, 16-18 June 2011.
  • Marr, Ana. Convenor and Chief Organiser: The 1st International Microfinance Conference. Global Partnerships in Microfinance. Held at University of Greenwich, London, UK, 6-7 September 2010.
  • Marr, Ana. Invited participant: The Micro-Credit Summit. Held at Nairobi, Kenya. 5-11 April 2010.
  • Marr, Ana. Invited participant: The Africa Finance and Investment Forum 2009: Partnerships for Growth & Development. Organised by EMRC. Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 13-15 December 2009.
  • Marr, Ana. Invited participant: 3rd AHRC Microfinance Network Meeting, at the Conference Centre of the University of Birmingham, 11 November 2009.
  • Marr, Ana. Invited speaker: University Meets Microfinance workshop "Microfinance challenges in India" organized by the Free University in Berlin, Planet Finance and Vision Summit. Berlin, Germany, 5-6 November 2009.
  • Marr, Ana. Invited participant: Microfinance Investment Summit 2009, London, UK, 6-7 October 2009. Participant: Latin America/Caribbean Regional Microcredit Summit, Cartagena, Colombia, 8-10 June 2009.
  • Marr, Ana. Speaker: International Conference on the Interdisciplinary Social Science, Florence, Italy, 22-24 July 2008
  • Marr, Ana. Panel member: Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP Annual Lecture, University of Greenwich, 22 June 2008.
  • Marr, Ana. Speaker: International Conference VALUE2008, Sun City, South Africa, 24-28 May 2008.
  • Marr, Ana. Keynote Speaker, Microfinance: Social Business? London School of Economics, February 2008
  • Marr, Ana. Keynote Speaker, First Microfinance Conference, London Stock Exchange, London, UK, July 2007.
  • Marr, Ana. Invited participant to the Financial Inclusion Conference organised by the Commonwealth Business Council, 19 June 2007
  • Marr, Ana. Invited participant to the "In it together: Report of the Conservative Globalisation and Global Poverty Policy Group" organised by the Overseas Development Institute, September 2007
  • Marr, Ana. Participation in the "Global Micro-Credit Summit 2006". Held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 12-15 November 2006.
  • Marr, Ana. Participation in the Asian-Pacific Conference "Micro-Credit Summit". Held at the Sheraton Hotel, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 16-19 February 2004.
  • Marr, Ana. Speaker at the seminar Poverty and Power organised by the Oxford University.
  • Marr, Ana. Presentation of paper "Studying Group Dynamics in Peru: A Challenge to the Orthodoxy Concerning Microfinance and Poverty Reduction", Oxford, 6 June 2003.
  • Marr, Ana. Participation in the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Biennial Conference. Held at the Victoria Park Plaza Hotel, London, United Kingdom. 22-23 May 2003.
  • Marr, Ana. Participation in the International Conference "Micro-Credit Summit Plus 5". Held at the Hilton New York, New York, USA. 10-14 November 2002.
  • Marr, Ana. Participation in the seminar "Finance for Development and Poverty Reduction", held at the University of Birmingham on 29 November 2002.
  • Marr, Ana. Participation in a talk entitled "The Impact of Microfinance and Microcredit on Developing Countries", held at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Overseas Development, House of Common, London, on 3 December 2002.
  • Marr, Ana. Presentation of paper A Challenge to the Orthodoxy Concerning Microfinance and Poverty Reduction at the international conference "Finance for Growth and Poverty Reduction: Experience and Policies for Developing Countries". University of Manchester: United Kingdom, 10-13 April 2002.
  • Marr, Ana. Presentation of paper A critique of NGOs' role in issues of microfinance and poverty alleviation – the case of Peru at the international conference of the Society for Latin American Studies, Annual Conference 2002. University of East Anglia: United Kingdom, 22-24 March 2002.
  • Marr, Ana. Presentation of paper Studying Group Dynamics: the role of microfinance in alleviating poverty. Seminar Research Group, SOAS, University of London, United Kingdom, 13 December 2001. Presentation of paper Microfinance and Poverty at the Conference on Peru, Institute of Latin American Studies, Liverpool, UK, 6-7 November 2001.
  • Marr, Ana. Presentation of paper An alternative analytical framework to the analysis of microfinance impacts on poverty reduction at the workshop "Latin American workshop on Action-Research Impact Assessments in microfinance" organised by Ford Foundation and held in Mexico DC, Mexico on 10-13 September 2000.

External Recognition

  • Fellow Member of the ESRC Peer Review College.
  • Editorial Advisory Board Member for the Iberoamerican Journal of Development Studies
  • External examiner of MSc Development Finance Programme at University of Reading
  • External examiner of PhD students' theses at University of Manchester and University of Bath.
  • Member of UK Development Studies Association
  • Member of UK Microfinance Club
  • Member of University Meets Microfinance
  • Member of Social Performance Task Force
  • Member of Development Finance Network

Awards

  • ESRC-DFID award for the research project Optimal Packaging of Credit and Insurance for Smallholder Farmers in Africa. Grant reference number: ES/L012235/1. (2014–2017)
  • Visiting Professor, Catholic University of Peru.
  • Leverhulme Trust award for the research project Optimising the Dual Goals of Microfinance. Grant reference: F/00 345/D (2009–2013)
  • FARM-Africa - Mid-term and Final Term Evaluations of Northern Cape Land Reform & Advisory Programme in South Africa (2006 & 2008)
  • DFID - UK Department for International Development grant for the research Innovative Financial Mechanisms for Improving the Livelihoods of Rural Afghans currently economically dependent on opium poppy (2004–2007)
  • DFID - UK Department for International Development - Potential Mechanisms for Increasing the Contribution of the Private Sector to Agriculture Research, Development and Technology Transfer in Bolivia (2003)
  • ESRC - Economic and Social Research Council scholarship award for the research Studying Group Dynamics: An Analysis of Microfinance Impacts on Poverty Reduction (1999–2002)
  • DFID - UK Department for International Development grant for the research How Can Finance Work for the Poor? (1997–1999)
  • Bank of England award for the research How Can Finance Work for the Poor? (1998–1999)
  • HEIF grant: Impact of insurance in Kenya (2014)
  • HEIF-BUS-002/11 grant EE4E: Entrepreneurial Employment for Europe (2011–2012)
  • HEIF-NRI grant - Participatory research in innovative investment mechanisms for the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in Africa (2010–2011)
  • RAE-BUS-008/10 - Measuring the Impact of Microfinance on Small Enterprises: An Environmental Analysis and Randomised Controlled Trials Approach (2010)
  • Small grant award - Financial Inclusion and Ethics (2010)
  • Greenwich Research and Enterprise Award - Proposal: Optimising the dual goals of microfinance (2007–2008)
  • London School of Economics, Scholarship award for the undertaking of MSc in Economics at LSE, (1987–1988)

Contact Information

Professor Ana Marr

Natural Resources Institute

University of Greenwich

Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Kent ME4 4TB, United Kingdom.

Tel: +44 (0)1634 88 3571

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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