35 years of international development

Our history of expanding our services and expertise underlines our commitment to reduce social and economic disadvantage in low- and middle-income countries.

1979 – OPM’s genesis

OPM was originally established by Roger Hay as the Food Supply Analysis Group at the University of Oxford, focusing on applied research to help solve the food security problems of Eastern and Southern Africa. The Group's academic roots provided it with rigorous analytical skills that remain one of its defining characteristics.

1984 – Added survey and statistical capabilities

To strengthen our analytical capabilities, we established a survey and statistics team, while we continued to address the demand, supply and market for food and their role in understanding food insecurity. Our organisation changed its name to the Food Studies Group to reflect our holistic perspective – another of our key characteristics.

1985 – Created a social policy team

We continued to expand the breadth and depth of our technical expertise, adding agricultural and social policy programmes to our portfolio. Clients now included major institutions such as the EU, World Bank and UN.

1988 – Supported food reforms in Africa

We worked on substantial reform initiatives in food and agricultural markets in East and Southern Africa.

1990 – Conducted major poverty studies

Major poverty and food insecurity studies were undertaken, including in conflict-affected Angola and Mozambique. Policies for improving national and regional drought responses were also addressed.

1995 – Expanded into economic policy and health

We started to build an economic policy programme and expanded our social policy team to include a health team. A large integrated household survey in Pakistan was also won, funded by the UK’s Overseas Development Administration (now DFID).

1996 – Established OPM as a limited company

Oxford Policy Management was established as a limited company, separate from Oxford University, with the goal of combining high-quality analysis and practical experience to reduce social and economic disadvantage in low- and middle- income countries. The company was owned half by staff (then just 12 people) and half by investors, former employees and friends of OPM, as it is today.

1997 – Created a PFM team

We created a public financial management (PFM) team to support ministries in areas such as medium-term budget frameworks, public finance diagnostics and output-based budgeting. Since then, this team has become a leader in its field, winning major projects in countries as diverse as Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Tanzania

2003 – Won major programmes in the Caucasus

OPM won a £5 million health sector reform programme in Georgia, plus started the Armenia Regional Development Project.

2004 – Expanded into extractive industries

An extractive industries team was formed to help governments understand and address the socio-economic challenges and opportunities presented by mining, oil and gas in regions such as Africa and South America. OPM also began a six-year project to improve the effectiveness of Cambodia’s health service delivery through pay, management and organisational reforms.

2005 – Formed a financial sector team

We established a financial sector team to address issues such as financial inclusion. An estimated 2.5 billion people – one third of the world’s population – do not have access to formal financial services.

2006 – Moved into social services

OPM started a major poverty-targeted, cash-benefits programme in Moldova, and further strengthened its social welfare capability by creating a social services team.

2008 – Created a climate change team

OPM responded to the growing global recognition of climate change, and its effects on poverty, particularly in developing countries, by forming a climate change team, focused on mitigation and adaptation.

2009 – Opened offices in Pakistan, India and South Africa

To provide clients with local, long-term support, we embarked on a strategy of establishing a network of overseas offices, led by local nationals, starting with an office in Islamabad, Pakistan. This was followed with the opening of two further permanent offices in India and South Africa.

2010 – Won major oil sector transparency project

The continuing success of OPM, including winning a £10 million oil sector transparency project in Nigeria, led to us expanding our full-time staff numbers beyond 100 people.

2011 – Opened our Bangladesh office

We opened our OPM Bangladesh office, continuing our strategy of providing long-term local support.

2012 – Opened our Indonesia office

We further extended our network of offices in Asia with the opening of our Indonesia office. DFID also appointed OPM to manage its global Professional Evidence and Applied Knowledge Services (PEAKS) framework for health, nutrition and education. Together with six consortium partners, OPM provides call-down consultancy, rapid response and core knowledge services to DFID advisers and other development actors.

2013 – Established our office in Nepal and WASH team

We opened the OPM Nepal offices in Kathmandu and also created a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) team. We also won the £20 million, DFID-funded Sub National Governance (SNG) Programme to improve public services in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces of Pakistan.

2014 – Opened further offices in Africa

We won a large regional climate change project, among other major successes, and opened our second and third offices in Africa, in Nigeria, and Tanzania.

2015 – Launched the Oxford Policy Fellowship

We launched our Oxford Policy Fellowship, providing governments in the countries in which we work with outstanding early-career legal and public policy advisors, to build local capacity in the long-term and provide immediate gap filling. We also started two large research programmes: Economic Development and Institutions, and RISE: Research on Improving Systems of Education, which bring together the most influential researchers in the world to provide practical solutions to the most challenging issues in development.

2016 – Established our Myanmar office and urban policy team

We opened our OPM Myanmar office and established our urban policy team. We also began a third DFID-funded research programme, Energy and Economic Growth, to produce valuable evidence and knowledge around the critically under-researched links between energy and economic growth in low-income countries.

2017 – Continuing to grow, with over 400 full-time staff

OPM has continued to expand, winning numerous projects and increasing its full-time staff to around 400 people, supported by an extensive network of internationally renowned associates.