Representation is important.
This year, ARNTD and COR-NTD translated application materials into French. As a result, we received many applications in French – providing new and important representation. Additionally, with the unanticipated influx of applications, ARNTD has more than doubled its cadre of peer reviewers. The group represents 18 African countries – five of them Francophone – across the eastern, western, central, southern, and northern regions of Africa. Finally, we have observed an increase in the proportion of applications from female candidates. While women still represent the minority of SGP applicants, this year we received more applications from female candidates alone than what we received in total last year.
Partnerships are key.
A major source of information on SGP for this year’s applicants was word of mouth – with 20% applicants reaching the call after hearing about it from someone they knew. The amplification of the call by our partners on social media and in direct outreach has been key its success, and it represents the importance of supporting African-led research to the larger community.
As we move forward with this program, it is clearer than ever that supporting researchers in Africa is crucial to the success of neglected tropical disease programs for long term sustainability. While it has expanded, our Small Grants Program remains small relative to the demand for research support. Together with our partners in this effort, we encourage other organizations join us and take advantage of this vital resource.