Press Releases

Media Advisory - IFC and Financial Times Announce Second Annual IFC/FT Essay Competition

Washington, D.C.
Christine Bowers
Phone:  +1 (202) 458-8472

THEME:  Private Sector Development: Creating Markets, Transforming Lives
WHEN:  Competition opens April 25, closes September 30, 2007

The competition is a joint initiative by IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, and the Financial Times to solicit action-oriented essays that provide insight into current research on private sector development, as well as ways to develop and support the implementation of leading-edge initiatives. Target audiences include economic and financial policymakers, the international financial community, and international domestic investors.

The top prize (Gold award) is $20,000 in cash. The judging panel will also select two Silver award winners for a cash prize of $10,000 each and three Bronze award winners for a cash prize of $5,000 each.  All winning essays will be published on IFC’s Web site and by the Financial Times.

The announcement follows the tremendous success of the first IFC/FT Essay Competition last year, which drew more than 500 entries from over 70 countries on topics ranging from microfinance to private sector development in post-conflict environments. The first prize winner, Professor James Tooley of Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, was recently appointed adviser to a $100 million fund for private schools for the poor—the subject of his research and his essay submission. Tooley remarked, “The global distribution platform that IFC and the Financial Times provided gave the concept the needed profile, enhancing its credibility.”

Commenting on last year’s winning essays, Michael Klein, IFC Chief Economist and World Bank Group Vice President, Financial and Private Sector Development, said, “The outstanding ideas proved that there is a rich vein of thinking to mine among diverse professional and academic communities. By uncovering these ideas, we can foster innovative partnerships between the business and development communities. As last year’s essays showed, markets can indeed provide solutions for low-income citizens where standard state- or donor-driven approaches may struggle.”

Lionel Barber, Financial Times Editor, commented: “I’m thrilled to launch a second essay competition with IFC. I hope the success of last year’s competition will encourage more entries and broaden thinking on how to apply sound business principles to gain tangible results in private sector development.”

The competition will close on September 30, 2007, and the winning essays will be announced in early 2008. For more information on last year’s winning essays and details of this year’s competition, please visit

The judging panel includes: Michael Klein, IFC Chief Economist and World Bank Group Vice President, Financial and Private Sector Development; Nadan Nilekani, Chief Executive Officer, Infosys; C.K. Prahalad, Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor of Corporate Strategy at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan; Frances Seymour, Director General at the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia and former Program Director at the Institutions and Governance Department of the World Resources Institute; and Martin Wolf, Associate Editor and Chief Economics Commentator at the Financial Times. Other jurors may be added to the panel before September 30, 2007.

To set up an interview with last year’s winners, the competition judges, or World Bank Group representatives, please contact:

Christine Bowers, World Bank Group, +1 (202) 458-8472, e-mail:
Jo Crosby, Financial Times, +44 (0)20 7873 3811, email:
       IFC/FT Competition website link
       Links to first round winning essays
       FT’s press release on Tooley’s appointment
       Links to Tooley’s website

Financial Times
Jo Crosby
Phone: +44 (0)20 7873 3811