Press Releases

IFC and FT Discover New Voices on Innovation in Business and Development: Results of the First Annual IFC/FT Essay Competition

In Singapore
Andrew Mak
Cell Phone: +65-8134-6274

In Washington, DC
Nadine Ghannam
Office Phone: +1-202-458-0482
Cell Phone: +1-202-361-7798

Singapore, September 17, 2006 – Winners of the first annual research essay competition cosponsored by the International Finance Corporation and the Financial Times were honored today in Singapore. The awards ceremony capped a day of events on the theme of private sector development, and participants included attendees of the World Bank Group’s Annual Meetings, the winner of the first prize, the competition’s judges, the press, and other stakeholders.

The competition, entitled “Business and Development: The Private Path to Prosperity,” aimed to encourage new thinking in the ongoing dialogue on the role of business in development.

“We believe that new ideas out in the business world can lead to more, and faster, innovations in the development business,” said Michael Klein, World Bank-IFC Vice President for Financial and Private Sector Development and IFC Chief Economist.

The essay competition, which is expected to become an annual event, drew more than 500 essays from over 70 countries. Roughly four-fifths of the entries came from emerging market nationals. Some 21 percent were from authors based in the United States; 15 percent were based in Nigeria and 13 percent in India. The topics of the submissions ranged from education to microfinance and from property rights to entrepreneurship, as well as private sector development in post-conflict environments.

Klein noted as he reflected on the submissions, “Clearly, the ideas of helping people out of informality and about the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ inspired many essays in the competition, as has the practical success of entrepreneurs.”

Prize money totaling $90,000 was set up for the six awards, with the top prize bringing the winner $30,000. First prize went to James Tooley, Director of E.G. Centre West at the University of Newcastle, where he is also Head of the Education Section and Associate Director of the School of Education, Communication, and Language Sciences.  His work explores the role of the private sector in serving the educational needs of poor people.    

The winners of the competition were graded on quality, originality, and level of research. The essays were reviewed by a distinguished panel of seven judges: Hernando de Soto, Founder, President, and CEO of the Institute of Liberty and Democracy; Sir Sam Jonah, President and Non-Executive Officer at AngloGold Ashanti, Ltd.; Michael Klein, from the World Bank Group; 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, previous Program Director at the Institutions and Governance Department of the World Resources Institute and current Director General at the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia; and Martin Wolf, Associate Editor and Chief Economics Commentator at the Financial Times.

The winners are:

“Educating Amaretch: Private Schools for the Poor and the New Frontier for Investors,” by James Tooley

“Traveling Down the Other Path - Learning to See Extra-Legality as an Investment Opportunity,” by Matthew Bird

“Innovation of a Global Local Currency Microfinance Fund,” by Maheshan Fernando


“Pro-Market Beliefs Amongst Argentine Squatters,” by Rafael di Tella, Sebastian Galiani, and Ernesto Schargrodsky

“ICTs as Appropriate Technologies for African Development,” by Kristin Davis and Cosmos Ochieng

“Managing Policy Risk,” by Witold Henisz and Bennet Zelner

Winning essays and a brief biography of each prize winner can be viewed on our Web site at  Moving forward, this page will post details of the second annual competition, which IFC will open in late 2006.  

To set up an interview with the winners, the competition judges, or representatives of the World Bank Group, please contact: Andrew Mak, cell, +65 8134 6274; e-mail,