A study which looks at financial solutions to help farmers, has received a Financial Times Responsible Business Education Award.
The study, led by Dr Enrico Biffis, Associate Professor of Actuarial Finance and Dr Erik Chavez, Research Fellow from Imperial College Business School, addresses the issues facing farmers in Tanzania who lack access to affordable insurance to protect them against the effects of climate change, such as crops failing due to changing weather patterns.
Using machine learning to analyse data such as weather variables, soil characteristics and agricultural practices to determine what ideal crop yields look like, the researchers developed a set of criteria by which a farm’s performance could be judged.
They worked with the World Bank and reinsurance company Munich Re, to create a product that combines loans and insurance to help protect smallholder farmers, many of whom lack access to basic financial services, which makes managing unexpected emergencies difficult.
“Getting your hands dirty with real-world problems allows you to formulate research questions that are not otherwise present in academia.” Dr Erik Chavez Research Fellow, Imperial College Business School
Reacting to the news of the award, Dr Chavez said: “I am delighted that our research was been recognised by the Financial Times for this prestigious award. “Getting your hands dirty with real-world problems allows you to formulate research questions that are not otherwise present in academia.”
Dr Biffis added: “Tackling major social issues requires a broad range of skills and ideas, and we found that by working directly with market participants and other experts, we were able to come up with an effective solution to the problems facing farmers in this region.”
The Financial Times Responsible Business Education Awards recognise academic research from leading business schools that demonstrates positive social impact. In the FT’s criteria, this research should “tackle significant societal problems” and show that “their findings are driving change in policy or practice.”
This is the first time that Imperial College Business School has been recognised by the Financial Times for the social impact of its research. The farming in Tanzania project was among a number of initiatives that, according to the FT, “combined intellectual originality, a focus on pressing social issues and efforts to engage organisations to bring about change.”
Professor Francisco Veloso, Dean of Imperial College Business School said: “Many congratulations to Enrico, Erik and their team on this fantastic achievement. This award reflects their tireless work in producing impactful research that really drives positive societal change. This recognition by the Financial Times will help us continue our mission of producing world-class research that tackles the most pressing global challenges.”
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