Thursday, September 15, 2011

Microfinance in the Marshall Islands

The Majuro Atoll of the Marshall Islands.

By Emory Zink
Second-Year MBA

As we flew in to the Republic of the Marshall Islands, I looked out over the blue ocean and the delicate outline of the Majuro Atoll.  

I am about to embark on a consulting project with fellow Kelley MBA students Theo and Greg. Enthusiastically, we have accepted a project from the South Pacific Business Development Foundation, a microfinance institution that enhances opportunity in underdeveloped Pacific countries by supporting women entrepreneurs and their communities. 

Two weeks prior to our arrival, we spoke with Greg Casagrande, the founder of SPBD. During our conference call, Greg shared with us SPBD’s successes in Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji, and his interest in expanding operations into the Marshall Islands. Thus, SPBD needed a group of business professionals on the ground, sandals to the dirt, walking around, asking questions, and assessing the market feasibility of expanding from the South Pacific into the North Pacific. 

Of course, this is a dream challenge for MBA students who’ve read theoretical cases on developing world economies and want to see how they function up close and personally. So – here we are – ready to start our interviews at the U.S. Embassy in Majuro and then to wherever our questions and meetings take us.

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