The Lab is Laterite’s research development arm where we design and carry out innovative research ideas. We build on our project work and the intellectual curiosity of the team to initiate projects that can be published, lead to the development of new insights with practical policy applications, and make significant contributions to the field of development research



Household SMS Panel Survey


Design stage

The Lab is currently working on developing a representative household panel of Rwanda. Our target is to have at least 10,000 households registered on this panel by the time we launch it. In parallel to this, Laterite is developing the capacity to conduct rapid SMS surveys for clients, drawing from households in the panel. This will enable organizations (both public and private) to conduct faster and cheaper surveys, thereby opening-up new possibilities for social, political and market research in Rwanda. Our hope is that this tool will enable decision-makers to make evidence-based almost on the same day that a research question is asked. It will also enable companies and development organization to easily and regularly monitor their KPIs.

Services Book


Design stage

The services book project seeks to develop a reference document that will provide a thorough overview of the services sector in Rwanda, its history and evolution, profiles of the largest service firms, the likely future trajectory of the sector and the major constraints affecting the sector. Despite its strategic importance to the country, there is currently limited research on the services sector in Rwanda, a gap that the services book aspires to bridge. The book is envisioned as a powerful combination of historical facts, statistics, profiles, and policy analysis that will provide rich reference material for investors, policy-makers, development practitioners, and researchers. Contingent on the availability of funding, the services book will act as a sequel to a successful earlier publication authored by Laterite entitled “Understanding Rwanda’s Agribusiness & Manufacturing Sectors”.

Big Data


Design Stage

Both the government and the private sector in Rwanda collect large amounts of data on tax-payers, consumers, financial transactions, social security, insurance claims, etc. These rich datasets are however under-utilized. Laterite is looking to work with government agencies and the private sector to apply data analytics and predictive analytics techniques  to existing datasets, to help organizations find better responses to some of their most pressing problems.  This lab project will involve reaching out to clients to explore what can be achieved by: (i) better linking and utilizing existing datasets; (ii) improving corporate reporting; (iii) forecasting; and (iv) generating insights about potential policy and business questions. The potential gains are large and span over many domains: health, tax monitoring, economic  & monetary forecasting, energy & water provision, public transports, agriculture, mobile telephony, Internet, banking and insurance.

Defining Child Labour


Design Stage

Child labour is a very complex and multifaceted issue. Factors as different as the number of hours worked, the tools used, the conditions in which the work is carried out, for whom the activity is done, the effect on schooling, and the age of the child – amongst others – must be considered when trying to identify child labourers. Depending on definitions and methodologies, an estimate of the prevalence of child labour can vary greatly. Laterite’s own analysis of child labour in tea-growing areas in Rwanda – using established definitions – has yielded very definition-sensitive estimates. Internationally accepted Child Labour and Hazardous Child Labour definitions put children with very different labour-related experiences in the same bucket, potentially leading to misguided conclusions. Laterite is looking to design an intensity-based index of child labour which would offer a more precise look into levels of child labour, borrowing methods from network theory. Our hope is that this tool will give policy makers better and more granular information when making decisions about how to address child labour issues.


Please contact us if you are interested in funding or collaborating with us on any of the current projects we are developing. We are very interested in fostering new research partnerships and working together with academics and institutions looking to innovate in the field of development research