To provide access to poor people to a broad range of financial services such as payments, savings, loans, and insurance by continuing to support piloting new ideas and approaches, and to support technical assistance regulators and commercial players for enhancing industry knowledge and practice about business models, pricing and design of financial products. Access to these services enables consumers to acquire productive assets, invest in health and education and make other purchases that enrich their lives.
To enhance stability in the financial sector and expand access to financial services for the poor
This project builds on earlier work and will spread best practice methods of water management and conservation agriculture to improve food availability in a community that is challenged by climate change and limited financial resources.
Several aromatic oil compounds (essential oils) of high commercial value are produced naturally by the leaves of mint plants (Mentha). Mint oil extracts are promoted for their health benefits and are used to flavour drinks, ice cream, chewing gum, as well as in cosmetics and personal care products such as toothpaste and shower gel. Menthol is a key component of mint essential oils, particularly those isolated from peppermint Mentha x piperita, and has a large international market with a value of around $800m p.a. Another chemical component, nepetalactone, a potent natural insect repellent normally found in catnip, has recently been identified in the pineapple mint species Mentha suaveolens. As part of a previous collaborative project, the potential for mint as a non-food crop for Ugandan farmers has been explored, a mint garden with selected varieties established near Kampala, and pilot-scale distillation equipment constructed to extract oil from a harvested spearmint crop. This suggests that wide-scale commercial cultivation of mint crops in Uganda could represent a viable resource for globally competitive production of mint essential oils. This project aims to develop novel mint varieties for cultivation in Uganda to produce high yields of essential oils containing menthol or nepetalactone which will be used to develop locally-produced products for the benefit of the rural Ugandan economy. This application, involving partnerships between Cardiff (Wales) and Makerere (Uganda) Universities, seeks to maximise the production of selected essential oils using two parallel strategies. Firstly, we will screen a range of mint varieties to identify those with naturally high yields of menthol or nepetalactone using biochemical analysis (chromatography) of extracted oils, and those with the largest abundance of oil-bearing glandular leaf hairs (trichomes) by microscopic analysis of the leaf surface. The second strategy will be to manipulate key genes involved in the biosynthesis of essential oils in the leaf, with the aim of creating new 'elite' mint varieties by up-regulating the production of menthol. Such genetic modifications are feasible, due to recent advances in scientific understanding of the biochemical pathway leading to menthol production in mint oil. The most promising mint varieties will be selected for subsequent field trials to determine their viability for growth under potentially conditions of water availability, shading and soil type, in three regions of Uganda. Together with our partners in Uganda, we will create local Community Enterprise (CE) groups to propagate and distribute plant material to farmers, and provide the necessary training to cultivate/harvest the crop, ensuring agricultural best practice. In turn, this will improve local systems of agricultural production, harvesting and extraction technology and result in substantive up-skilling of the local rural population. In addition, we will devise agro-economic models of mint crop production, and develop business plans and marketing strategies to guide emerging local business ventures. This project will ensure that sustainable financial benefits accrue principally to local communities in Uganda, via CE groups set up to grow, harvest and exploit new mint crops. The project will explore the development of products for sale in collaboration with local-based partners, enabling rural populations in Uganda to benefit sustainably from science-based enhanced production of mint essential oils.
The main objective of SAFER is to tackle global development challenges in Nepal through engineering research for Sustainable infrastructure and Disaster Resilience through a multi-disciplinary consortium of geotechnical and structural engineers, engineering seismologists, ICT experts, earth scientists from academia, social scientists, policy makers financial experts, and humanitarian aid stakeholders. This is achieved by targeting the following objectives: (a) building upon the existing data, processes and strategies to develop a holistic framework, in collaboration with key international partners and local stakeholders for improving the seismic resilience of educational communities. (b) developing an innovative, low-cost, sustainable, locally sourced technique for construction of new school buildings and co-produce low-cost/high-performance retrofit schemes. (c) making use of two world class test facilities in the UK (at the Universities of Bristol and Southampton) to provide experimental justification for the current construction practices. (d) integrating the existing data, advanced methodologies into an easy to use mobile system for the stakeholders. (e) condensing the new knowledge into guidelines for local engineers and stakeholders. (f) organising an extensive scheme of interaction among the international consortium, the stakeholders, the engineering and educational communities to facilitate two-way knowledge transfer, enabling co-development of sustainable solutions that change the current state-of-practice in Nepal. Thus benefitting the people of Nepal. It is noted that the above objectives will be met by drawing upon existing collaborations, namely, the School Earthquake Safety Program (SESP) between the Department of Education, NSET, Arup International Development and the World Bank, the existing MoU between the Fuzhou, Roma Tre and Tribhuvan University, the long term collaboration between the Universities of Bristol and Southampton, the joint NSF-USAid program of California Institute of Technology and University Buffalo at SUNY in USA and the established cooperation of the latter with the University of Bristol. It is also linking together three existing EPSRC Global Challenge Institutional Sponsorships to the University of Bristol focusing specifically Nepal.
This application demonstrates that the quality of legal institutions can matter for economic development and that important policy lessons can be learned by China from the UK in this regard. This application recognises that China has been a remarkable economic success story but the country also faces new challenges as its economy enters a more mature phase. In particular, it needs to avoid the 'middle income trap' i.e. where a country has costs that are now too high to compete with low-income countries but where productivity does not match those in high-income countries. There are economies in Asia including Singapore and Hong Kong SAR that have emerged successfully from middle income status. Both these economies are built on UK law and are renowned for the quality of their legal infrastructure in supporting development of the financial system. The application suggests how China might also benefit from the UK experience in building its legal infrastructure. But the application recognises China's singular journey and avoids simplistic conclusions that certain consequences will inevitably follow form certain formal changes. It recognises the need for a continuous process of adaptation and development; learning appropriately from experience and responding sensitively to local conditions. The application demonstrates in particular how legal reforms can support economic growth through - enhancing the protections available to minority investors - supporting the availability of credit and contributing to lower-cost credit - supporting the restructuring of ailing businesses. In these areas we seek to provide options for enhancing and reforming the legal and financial system in China that are based upon the UK and other experience. We acknowledge that there are choices to be made between means and ends and that the relationship between means and ends is contingent and uncertain. The data we rely on will come principally from the World Bank Doing Business (DB) reports and rankings which are grounded on the notion that smarter business regulation promotes economic growth. The DB rankings have been issued annually since 2004 and the 2016 rankings includes 11 sets of indicators for 189 economies. Each economy is ranked on the individual indicators and also in an overall table. Currently, the UK is 6th in this table and China 84th but Singapore is 1st and Hong SAR is 5th which shows that it is possible for Asian economies to rank highly. In our project, we will explore deep into the detail underlying the Protecting Minority Investors, Getting credit and Resolving Insolvency indicators. These 3 indicators appear particularly pertinent to the development of a mature financial system and in relation to them all China ranks far below the UK. On protecting investors, China is ranked as 134th whereas the UK is 4th. We show how the gap can be bridged and how China can learn from the UK experience by examining critically how the UK has protected minority investors and ascertaining what measures of protection might work most effectively in Chinese conditions. Our approach takes the relevant DB rankings as a guide but subjects them to critical scrutiny and engaging systematically with the methodology underpinning the rankings; addressing the robustness of this methodology and considering alternative approaches. For instance, we will test the robustness and limitations of the DB 'resolving insolvency' data on China using Jiande Municipal People's Court in Zhejiang Province as a case study. This makes the process of data collection and analysis more manageable. 20 interviews with creditors and practitioners will be undertaken in Zhejiang Province and data on business closures from the local branches of the China Business Registration Authorities and the China Pension Management Authorities will also be collected. We will also use econometr ic analyses based on detailed micro data from other data sources
China withstood the Global Financial Crisis. Hence, at a first glance - if history is a good guide for China's resilience in future - one should not be too concerned about financial stability. Of course, house price inflation might be a source of instability. However, lending criteria seem to be robust with minimum down payments of 20% for first time buyers and 30% for second homes since February 2016. Recent data published by the People's Bank of China (PBoC) show that bank loans grew by 14.07% year-on-year to the end of April 2016, and total credit in the economy expanded by 13.13%. Interestingly, loans seem to grow faster than credit - a particularly curious irregularity that has afflicted the Chinese economy since 2014. As of April 2016, shadow banking accounts for 15.19% of total credit (approximately 50% of GDP). The expansion of shadow banking seems to be a response to disparities in access to finance with large parts of the economy, notably small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), facing financial constraints. Moreover, recent technological advances and improvements in infrastructure (e.g. high-speed internet access) have helped to make financial innovations available to an increasing number of end-users. Financial technology (fintech) such as crowd-funding and peer-to-peer lending platforms have emerged in China, offering new ways to access financial services. In spite of the considerable potential of newly emerging fintech businesses in China, recent issues, e.g. the collapse of the peer-to-peer lender Ezubao, highlight the need for better regulation of the industry. Our project aims to answer the overarching research question: how can the Chinese financial system contribute to sustainable economic development? This is further divided into two sub questions: (1) how can financial sector reforms improve financial inclusion, contributing to sustainable growth and development, and (2) how to safeguard financial stability in China? Our proposal will focus on sustainable economic growth, which considers trade-offs between economic, social and environmental targets. Economic growth is only sustainable if growth is inclusive and environmental risks are considered. The project is organised in six work packages (WPs). WP1 will provide an overview and a meta-analysis based on prior research on financial inclusion and risk in China. WP1 will consider fintech businesses in China and their role in promoting inclusive finance as well as their alleged contribution to financial risk. WP2 will model the link between financial development, financial innovations and sustainable growth. Potentially, the most significant contribution of our project is the construction of novel indexes for diversity and resilience in China, which assess three key financial markets: deposits, mortgages and business loans from 2000-2016. WP4 will use these indexes to examine the impact of diversity on financial inclusion and stability. WP5 will explore China's Enterprise Bankruptcy Law and its impact on inclusive finance. Apart from this specific policy change, WP5 will develop advanced quantitative methods to evaluate the impact of policy changes, taking into account causal order. WP6 will assess the extent of compliance in the Chinese financial industry regarding the promotion of green finance. Environmental risk is seen as a material risk to the financial sector, and the financial sector is also the place where the allocation of capital into sustainable or non-sustainable investments is decided. Ma Jun, the PBoC's Chief Economist, has set up large working groups within the central bank, and the Green Finance Committee was set up by the PBoC to develop green finance practices including environmental disclosure, environmental stress testing for the banking sector, and guidelines on greening China's overseas investment. We will assess whether these recent policy changes have triggered a change in lending practices
We will provide novel insights into socio-economic, cultural and biological drivers of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) to identify and prioritise tractable levers of behaviour change in hospitals and communities that will alleviate the burden of AMR related illness in a low income setting. In doing so, we will support the National Action Plan (NAP) on AMR in Tanzania whilst creating a generalisable whole system approach to implementation of the WHO maxim that AMR is a global problem with local solutions. We will explore (1) what drives the contribution of the hospital system to the AMR problem and how this can be mitigated; (2) what drives the contribution of the community to the AMR problem, considering use of antimicrobials in both humans and animals; (3) the relative magnitude and tractability of those contributions; and (4) how best to promote AMR awareness. Objectives 1 and 2 address key knowledge gaps surrounding behavioural drivers of antimicrobial use (AMU) in hospitals and communities using a suite of social science and economics tools to provide a rich baseline for understanding the context and constraints on AMU at micro-level (e.g. patients, hospital staff, household), meso-level (e.g. health providers such as drug suppliers) and macro-level (e.g. government policy). Activities will target all tiers of the system and three major livestock keeping communities in Tanzania who are known to have different socio-cultural knowledges, perceptions, attitudes and behaviours around AMU in people and animals and who face different socio-economic constraints. The outcomes will reveal potential interventions such as better information, social norm effects, or improved access that influences choice to prescribe, buy or administer antimicrobials in people and animals and to let us identify individuals or actions that may be targeted to bring about the greatest change in AMU. Objective 3 aims to quantify transmission of AMR within and across tiers of the hospital system as well as introduction into the hospital system from human and animal sources in the community. We will focus on pathogens and resistance mechanisms that are at the top of the WHO priority list and known to be major contributors to clinical disease and childhood mortality in Tanzania, i.e. extended spectrum betalactamase resistant Escherichia coli. Using phylogenetic and diversity analyses of bacterial genomes and plasmids from prospectively collected isolates and an extensive existing archive from human and animal sources in Tanzania, we will quantify the flow of AMR into and within the hospital system and quantify the predicted impact of behaviour change to reduce this flow. This will provide evidence to identify the appropriate setting (hospital or community) and context (human or veterinary) for "best bet" interventions. Objective 4 addresses gaps in understanding of how to best to communicate and promote AMR awareness. Using a theoretical framework and in collaboration with Objectives 1-3, we will co-construct and evaluate a series of interlinked media and education messages, materials and activities to target health care workers and the public, recognising that drivers and constraints on AMU may differ between different tiers of the hospital system and between different livestock keeping communities in Tanzania. The desired outcome of these activities is improved knowledge and awareness of AMR and its risk, promotion of responsible AMU in humans and livestock, and capacity strengthening of the policy unit tasked with coordinating implementation of the Tanzanian NAP to help avert the threat posed by AMR to lives and livelihoods in Tanzania and other Low and Middle Income Countries. Ultimately, we will deliver transferable outputs by demonstrating that a whole system approach, matched by interdisciplinary partnership offers a way to successfully identify tractable levers of change to tackle the challenge of AMR.