Case #1804.0

Microfinance and Social Entrepreneurship: South Pacific Business Development Foundation

Publication Date: September 19, 2005
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American businessman, Greg Casagrande, founder and president of the South Pacific Business Development Foundation (SPBD) in Samoa has a decision to make: who should he hire to be the next general manager of SPBD, when the contract of his current general manager ends in January 2005. Should he hire a local Samoan or a palegi, a foreigner? Casagrande founded the SPBD, a microfinance institution (MFI) providing financial services to poor people, in January 2000. He hired a Samoan with an MBA from the US to be his general manager. Nine months later Casagrande discovered that the general manager was engaging in a variety of fraudulent activities, as were some of his staff. Casagrande was forced to leave his home in New Zealand to fly to Samoa to step in directly. He instituted a number of reforms, including the decision to lend to women only. Casagrande's reforms put the SPBD back on track and, in 2002, he hired Minh Lai, a Vietnamese-Canadian investment banker, to become the general manager. Lai built on Casagrande's reforms, expanded the client base, and introduced new products, including a savings product. But questions still remained. Was SPBD having its intended impact on the lives of its women clients? Would SPBD reach its goal of financial self-sufficiency by 2006?

Learning Objective:
The case raises a number of questions: What is the appropriate role of foreign social entrepreneurs in promoting projects in developing countries? Why do MFIs target women? What impact do they have? What are the tensions inherent in the goal of creating a financially self-sufficient development project?

Other Details

Case Author:
Regina Galang and Susie Margolin
Faculty Lead:
Guy Stuart
Pages (incl. exhibits):
Pacific Islands