Knowledge for a sustainable world

BSc, MSc, PhD
Professor Ana Marr
Professor of International Development Economics,Director, International Microfinance Research Group

Food and Markets Department

Natural Resources Institute, Faculty of Engineering & Science

+44 (0)1634 88 3571

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 (, jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO, formerly 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 FCDO-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 FCDO, 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.

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.

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.

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

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 CompletionsMiriam Matzanke (2010–2013)Cornell Jackson (2009–2012)Ganka Nyamsogoro (2007–2010) CurrentMarius MeijerinkThomas OmachiCatherine OteneRosemary Gumba

  • 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
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