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Aston works with leading charity to promote sustainable economic development

Aston University has recently entered into a collaborative research project with international charity, Islamic Relief Worldwide, to better understand the factors that affect the economic behaviour of microfinance clients to develop products that are based on best practice and to review project evaluation methods in order to develop an evidence base for the impact of microfinancial services to poor people. 

Islamic Relief (IR) is an international relief and development charity working in over 30 countries to promote sustainable economic and social development by working with local communities to eradicate poverty, illiteracy and disease. The charity, as a member of the UK Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) also responds to disasters and emergencies to help people in crisis. 

Working with academics from the El Shaarani Centre for Islamic Business & Finance (EIBF) at Aston Business School, IR will be able to increase their knowledge and understanding of client behaviour by analysing the factors that affect the decision-making process in choosing microfinance products. The resultant insights are likely to improve product design and marketing, helping to overcome the financial exclusion of poor un-bankable people in the developing world in order to help IR offer financial support which will have an impact on the reduction of poverty and help promote sustainable livelihoods to poor people. 

Dr Mohammed Kroessin, Global Microfinance Advisor, Islamic Relief Worldwide said of the collaboration: “By accessing Aston’s academic expertise and knowledge in the area of Islamic finance but also project evaluation and marketing, we will be able to explore in greater detail the strength and weaknesses of different modes of microfinance interventions which will enable IR to offer more effective financial aid to promote sustainable economic and social development.” 

Dr Omneya Abdelsalam, Senior Lecturer in the EIBF research centre and academic lead on the project said:  “We are delighted to work with IR on this research project. It will give us the opportunity to undertake further research in the area of microfinance. Aston takes pride in being able to generate research which makes real difference to individuals, communities and industry. This research project is a perfect example of our research having a positive impact on society.” 

The starting point for both IR and Aston was, however, not the research but the realisation that there was a significant synergy between the organisations’ interests. To start talking with confidence, both entered into a strategic MoU before the initiation of any joint research activities.

Now, based on the successful research projects, the EIBF and IR are exploring ways of deepening the strategic partnership which has also seen IR staff attending executive seminars organised by EIBF at Aston and Aston MSc students doing placements at IR. 

Aston Business School has a long and successful history of impactful collaboration with private and public organisations of all sizes from many sectors. Expertise can be accessed in many ways including collaborative research, student projects and placements and other routes. Many of these initiatives are subsidised. 

To find out more about how your organisation could benefit from accessing Aston University’s world leading research, visit www.aston.ac.uk/business or email reo@aston.ac.uk