Open call for researchers

Open call: research collaboration on Impact-Linked Finance

Are you a professor, post-grad or think tanker with a passion for deep research in Impact-Linked or Blended Finance, impact enterprise business models, or capacity & market building for impact enterprises? Then our open call for researchers may be the right thing for you! If you want to get in touch, please contact JORDAN WOLKEN, who is in charge of our research agenda.

Roots of Impact: Effective.Impact.Finance

Roots of Impact is a manager of catalytic capital. As a pioneer in Impact-Linked Finance, we believe in aligning capital with incentives to drive change for people and the planet. Our mission is to empower entrepreneurs to achieve impact at scale by managing innovative funds, providing quality advisory and education, and building the field for Impact-Linked Finance.

For a first impression of our work, read about Impact-Linked Finance, check out our news and publications or investigate the Impact-Linked Funds we manage on the Impact-Linked Finance Fund platform.

What is the research opportunity?

Since its founding in 2015, Roots of Impact has been developing and piloting Impact-Linked Finance instruments. We began our first transactions with SIINC in three countries in Latin America in 2016 and have since expanded to sector-specific SIINC programs in vocational skills development and agriculture in Latin America, off-grid energy in Africa, water, sanitation, and health (WASH), gender inclusive fintech, education and others.

Our partners in these endeavours are e.g. SDC, EnDev, Aqua for All, ADA, and many other renowned funders and partners. We have also launched a countrywide, sector-agnostic market building program using SIINC and other Impact-Linked Finance instruments in Bangladesh in cooperation with the SDC and LightCastle Partners. In addition, we have branched out to new funding instruments, including Impact-Linked Loans to combat Covid-19 in Latin America.

In its relentless pursuit of its mission for more effective impact finance, Roots of Impact has come to be considered one of the most progressive actors globally in the field of innovative finance for development impact. Our solutions are increasingly recommended and adopted by leading actors and agenda setters and have created initial evidence. The time is right to ask the hard questions about whether we truly have the impact we are setting out to achieve, to understand how we are succeeding and where we are failing.

Impact is a science: we recognize the need not only to do but also to understand. We are thus taking the opportunity to align rhetoric and action and reach out to academic researchers who can use rigorous methodologies to examine our track record. We believe that such a process is necessary to help us discover when exactly blended and innovative finance (and in particular Impact-Linked Finance) solutions are needed, how they can be optimized, and what effect they actually have.

Ultimately, we expect to be challenged, to grow, and to launch into the next phase of our development with hard information on what we can and can’t do and what should be explored further. With this in mind, the current call for applications is intended to reach academic researchers working on topics that relate to our own organizational research agenda, which is specified further in the sections below. We see this as a massive opportunity for researchers interested in being at the forefront of knowledge generation about a subject that will become increasingly relevant as funders of global development increasingly look to private sector partnerships to catalyze the changes the world urgently needs to see.

Just some of the questions we have in mind:

We have already defined some questions that interest us; however, we are also open to co-designing projects of mutual interest and benefit based on the specific interests of the researcher and associated institutions.

We intend to provide our partner researchers will full access to the enterprises with which we work and the data that pertains to the impact they have generated and their own evolution as an enterprise. Researchers will also be granted access to stakeholders with whom we work and other ecosystem actors that we have connections to. Researchers will use this data to answer questions relevant to our research agenda. They will also be granted permission to use this data in an anonymized way to answer questions that may relate to their own area of research, even if they are not a part of Roots of Impact’s own agenda.

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Resaerch Call for Applications 2020 ILF
Reseaarch Call for Applications 2020 MCB

What we are looking for:

We are looking for researchers with the following interests:

  • Blended finance, impact investment, innovative finance, or Impact-Linked Finance
  • The intersection of development (either generally, or specific sub-sectors such as WASH, VSD, education, employment, etc.) and business
  • Social or impact entrepreneurship generally


We have a strong preference for professors or PhD students actively engaged in research at universities worldwide or for academic  practitioners working for recognized research institutions around the world. In exceptional cases, and only with the full and explicit support of a professor willing to publish any results, we will also consider Master’s students.

Roots of Impact welcomes researchers working individually or researchers seeking to embed this research in larger research projects covering a more expansive range of topics. Ideally, researchers will already have experience conducting research projects independently or they will enjoy the support of an institution with experience in this area.

Next steps and timeline:

Interested researchers should send an expression of interest indicating the mentioning:

  • Their current institutional affiliation
  • Their research interests and relevant previous publications
  • The research question or questions that they are most interested in
  • A broad proposal for how they would go about researching the question they are interested in, specifying the minimum requirements in terms of data and access that would be necessary


We will keep this call for applications open for the foreseeable future. If you are interested, please get in touch with Jordan Wolken at

We intend to screen applications as they come in. At this point, we will schedule individual calls with researcher to discuss how to move forward. Detailed planning for the to-be-developed research project would then take place thereafter. The first projects of this research agenda have been launched at the beginning of the 2021.

Transparency and limitations:

We at Roots of Impact see this as the beginning of a journey to embed evidence generation in the work we do and improve. Ideally, these projects can result in the establishment of long-term relationships with the researchers and/or their associated institutions so that this work can be planned more proactively and longer-term in the future. That being said, at this stage, researchers should apply with the assumption that Roots of
Impact is not able to dedicate financial support to these projects except, where relevant, to cover certain costs related to data collection. Depending on the project, it may be possible to pay a small stipend; however, this will not be possible for all projects.