Initiatives & Services

WDI features the following initiatives and services. Additionally, WDI supports and enhances the international experiences of graduate students at the University of Michigan.

View or download our WDI brochure here.


Education – Education is one of the largest and fastest changing industries in the world. More affordable and faster mechanisms for transferring information open the field to new models of developing and delivering education. The education initiative focuses on both delivering business education and in working with partners to develop their capacity to deliver world-class business education.

Energy – The Energy Initiative identifies individuals and communities that are developing innovative approaches to power generation, and connects them with the expertise, knowledge, and tools to design commercially viable business models and build profitable enterprises. We work with faculty, students, and other collaborators across the University of Michigan campus, and beyond to increase access to energy in low- and middle-income countries, and to develop innovative models or technologies that can reduce reliance on non-renewable energy sources in higher-income markets.

Financial Sector Development – High borrowing rates and access to capital issues hinder the development of the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector in emerging markets . The goal of this initiative is to identify and implement ways to profitably increase access to capital with the overall goal of bolstering economic growth. Current research focuses on using remittances to lower the cost of capital for SMEs by mitigating the costs associated with the moral hazard problem.

Healthcare – WDI’s Healthcare Initiative develops intellectual capital that helps increase access to essential medicines, vaccines and other health technologies in developing countries. We do this by helping create scalable and sustainable models for supply chains and delivery in healthcare. We help stimulate stakeholder discussions around new solutions to the many problems affecting global healthcare and explore new ideas through models, field experiments, and pilot implementations. Through this research, the initiative supports policymakers in philanthropic organizations, developing country governments, bilateral and multi-lateral agencies, pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturers, and healthcare investment firms.

Performance Measurement – WDI’s Performance Measurement Initiative designs and implements customized assessment solutions to understand the economic, social and environmental performance and outcomes of organizations and businesses operating in emerging economies. The team uses these data to create more value for stakeholders by improving the effectiveness, scalability and sustainability of ventures.

Scaling Impact – A growing number of enterprise managers and development community and foundation leaders are seeing Base of the Pyramid (BoP) markets as an underserved business opportunity where they can generate positive financial and social performance. The Scaling Impact Initiative brings together a unique combination of academic rigor and field-based collaborations to address the challenge of scaling impact enterprises. The initiative focuses on developing and sharing key insight, knowledge, tools and frameworks designed to influence the development of the domain, and provide practical, action-oriented recommendations and approaches for enterprise managers and their partners.


Grants Management – Grants Management provides grant writing and management services to WDI’s initiatives, as well as support to U-M faculty doing research or work in emerging markets. Additionally, this group focuses on mining new opportunities for WDI’s initiatives.

WDI Publishing – WDI Publishing is responsible for disseminating the research findings, intellectual capital, expert views, successful engagements, and the latest news and events of the William Davidson Institute. This is accomplished through a variety of mediums, including the WDI website, social media, videos, and email newsletters. WDI Publishing also writes, edits, and publishes business case studies for top-tier business schools globally. WDI Publishing also includes the NextBillion website and blog. NextBillion brings together the community of business leaders, social entrepreneurs, NGOs, policy makers, and academics who want to explore the connection between development and enterprise.

University of Michigan / Student Opportunities in Emerging Markets – For more than two decades, WDI has initiated opportunities, provided support, and enhanced the international, emerging market experiences of graduate students at the University of Michigan. Students engage with WDI in a variety of ways, including:

  • Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAPs) Course – In conjunction with U-M’s Ross School of Business, WDI sponsors several MAP teams who work with international organizations to create new business models, research new strategies, and plan for future growth.
  • WDI Global Impact Internship Program – Each summer WDI provides robust, action learning opportunities for U-M graduate students with global organizations located in or doing business in emerging markets.
  • University of Michigan/Ross School Graduate Courses – In conjunction with U-M’s Ross School of Business, WDI offers courses that address business strategies for poverty alleviation and/or increased access to healthcare in emerging markets.
  • Global Impact Speaker Series – WDI hosts periodic sessions featuring thought leaders who work in emerging markets. U-M students and faculty have the opportunity to listen and interact with visiting speakers in small group settings to discuss issues affecting business and policy in emerging economies.
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