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Dr. Hellen Osiolo’s quest to build relationships with research funders


Her passion for research dates to over 12 years ago when she was a young professional at Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA). Here she was nurtured in research on areas pertaining to Energy, Transport, Urban Planning, Information Communication, and Technology. And about two years ago, Dr. Helen Osiolo joined the Strathmore Institute of Mathematical Science (SIMS). Since then she has been involved in coordinating research in Applied Economics and Finance. One of her best projects so far involved looking into the heart of the electricity supply crisis in Africa so as to find out the key constraints to green investment and how to address them.

We spoke with Dr. Osiolo, whose Ph.D. in Economics, specializes in Public Finance and Environment Economics, on building and maintaining relationships with funders.

Building and maintaining relationships with funders

One way to build and maintain relationships with funders is to be able to identify your choice of funder key interests and align your research to that interest. This is the most difficult thing to do because most researchers cocoon in their academic research scope.  Secondly, the ability to carry out meaningful research is grounded by solid qualifications, skills, and experience. Keep at it and you will become better with time. Another is having integrity in the research process, for instance, in the use of project funds. You do not want to lose future grants because you pocketed the money for self-gratification. For institutions looking to build and retain relations with funders, it is key to have internal and external grant proposal evaluation. The evaluation needs to review areas such as financial management, human resources, procurement, and governance because they are the major practices funders adhere to when allocating funding.

In a quest to find funders

Doing research takes time and funders know that.  However, it is up to every researcher to do their due diligence to ensure their work is legitimate, of value, and doable. They should factor in inclusivity, gender, engagement with local knowledge, relevance, timeliness, action-ability, and knowledge accessibility. Over and above that, they need to show how all this leads to greater positive change for many now and in the future by addressing societal problems through research outputs and outcomes.

Nurturing for the future.

Dr. Osiolo’s love for dependable solutions goes beyond statistical data. Her mission is to build original researchers, those who will contribute to academic literature with the giving information that enhances knowledge and brings positive change. Their research will need to be relevant to societal issues as they will engage policymakers to improve the existing policies for the greater good. One needs to realise that research has many spheres and is intriguing especially if one is working on an area they are passionate about. It offers you a platform to voice your opinions based on scientifically grounded evidence and since it is a process, you will always have comments on every draft you develop.  Learn to celebrate every new research experience that comes and purpose to build on your portfolio of networks as you will always need them again and again.


This article was written by Annete Karanja. 


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