On Thursday, we welcomed Greg Casagrande, founder of the South Pacific Business Development (SPBD) microfinance network, to our economics class. Mr. Casagrande, a former executive at Ford Motor Company and Mazda, founded SPBD to combat poverty in the island nations of the South Pacific. You may have read about the efforts of SPBD and a group of Kelley students who are consulting for the organization in the Marshall Islands.
Mr. Casagrande joined us to provide a first-hand account of his mission to improve “the quality of life of poor families … by providing training, unsecured credit, ongoing guidance and motivation to help clients start, grow and sustain micro-businesses.” We also got to hear from our classmates who have done similar work for other organizations like the Peace Corps and Grameen. Their perspectives added depth and realism to a case we were studying on SPBD’s proposed expansion to Fiji. (The case was actually written by Kelley students and our economics professor, Phil Powell.)
I’ve been amazed at the efforts of our professors and the administration to bring the theory we are learning in class into the real world. Whether it’s diving into Yahoo!’s 10-K in accounting, attending an intimate Q&A with Procter & Gamble’s CFO, skyping with the co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s or consulting with Fortune 500 companies – the Kelley MBA Program is immersing us in today’s business problems, broadening our perspectives and preparing us to meet the real-world challenges ahead.