CFI Fellows Program

The CFI Fellows Program generates research on some of the most pressing questions facing financial inclusion. Launched in July 2015, the program encourages independent researchers and analysts to systematically examine challenges critical to the future of how customers at the base of the economic pyramid engage with financial services. Each fellow researches, analyzes, workshops, writes, and presents over the course of a fellowship that lasts for up to one year.

The program operates on a one year cycle. In July, CFI releases a list of what it sees as the most relevant questions to financial inclusion. Prospective fellows prepare proposals in response to these questions. A multi-disciplinary committee reviews these proposals and selects fellows based on their approach to the topic and framing of the central research question, the quality and feasibility of the research plan, and prior related experience and record of producing influential analytic work. Fellows come from a range of geography, seniority, and subject matter expertise. The program is housed within the Center for Financial Inclusion, and is made possible by financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Research Topics

In the last few years, the program has covered some of the big questions in financial inclusion including:

  • Whether G2P payments are indeed an on-ramp to financial inclusion,
  • The growth path of SMEs
  • The opportunities and challenges for mobile financial services in deepening financial inclusion, and
  • The uses and implications of big data in India

The Fellows Program continues to produce timely research on these important financial inclusion topics, focusing in 2017 on:

  • The role of human touch in digital financial services in India and Kenya,
  • The landscape of responsible online credit, and
  • The business case for financial capability in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

We look forward to continuing the work that has emerged from this program, and facilitates the generation of insights that will advance financial inclusion around the world.

Current Fellows Past Fellows
Alexis Beggs Olsen Amy Jensen Mowl
John Owens Leon Perlman
Justyna Pytkowska Christy Stickney
Misha Sharma and Shreya Chatterjee Guy Stuart
Patrick Traynor  

Contact Us

For questions about the program or application process, please contact Sonja E. Kelly at

To submit a proposal or receive regular updates on ongoing research, please visit:

To learn more about the CFI Fellows program, visit the full site:

Download our information sheet to learn more