Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Partnering with an NGO to Start a Microloan Program in a Ghanaian Village: A Global Organic Triple-Bottom-Line Social Enterprise in the Making

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Partnering with an NGO to Start a Microloan Program in a Ghanaian Village: A Global Organic Triple-Bottom-Line Social Enterprise in the Making

Article excerpt


The primary subject matter concerns social entrepreneurs hip which incorporates the triple bottom line. Secondary issues include financing new ventures, human resource development and motivation, globalization of collegiate curriculum with experiential/service learning methods, globalizing micro enterprise, and entrepreneurs hip in a nonprofit. This could be used in for-profit or nonprofit management or entrepreneurship courses, developmental economics, and finance. It has a difficulty level of four, appropriate for senior level and five, appropriate for the first year graduate level. The case is designed to be taught in 1-3 class hours with two hours of outside preparation that can be done online.


The director of a student consulting program in a university hears about a way to globalize the program by partnering with an NGO in Wilmot, New Hampshire, WomensTrust, to start a microloan program in a Ghanaian Village. A meeting is called with interested colleagues, alumni, and students. There is support for the concept but several other possible scenarios are proposed. A go with Ghana decision is made somewhat unilaterally and without a business plan. Entrepreneurial enthusiasm abounds as in a typical start-up. The team must now quickly do its homework- get the buy in of the relevant stakeholders especially the Dean of the Business School, and the University Administration. The Dean would be concerned about the level of positive impact on students and alumni and mitigating possible increased overload on faculty. The University is concerned about liability and safety issues. There is a desire to make sure this is a triple-bottom-line social enterprise, which achieves desired outcomes of helping empower women to have more secure lives for themselves and their families. The people, profit, and planet aspects must be addressed. Is there someway of getting to Ghana without burning tons of carbon dioxide during a 14, 000 mile round-trip flight? The model calls for investing $15,000 to begin a microloan program that charges interest to its peer lending group members and then becomes self-sustaining at 400 borrowers. How are they going to raise the $15,000 to start the process? It is an organic development model which starts with microloans and may grow into providing help with education, health, and meeting other needs if the women feel that is what they want. How will that be financed? What if the team doesn't get the buy in? The reservations cannot be canceled.


The following material explains and provides details about suggested answers to each of the questions that the team raises in its strategy sessions. We have tried this case and found it to be useful. Where something has worked particularly well, it is noted. A mix of methodologies is covered if the instructor wants to use them: Interview business people and nonprofit directors, debate certain questions, develop pro and con list. The case can be used without homework but would be enhanced with a couple hours spent on,, and One of the discussion questions asks to do a prospectus for the project. This is useful in a for profit or nonprofit course.

This case has been successfully used in a senior capstone course in a school of business and economics.

Names of individuals, except those of WomensTrust, have been disguised as have the university and city in which this is occurring. Otherwise, this is actual case of people two days away from traveling to Ghana to vet a village.

The term social enterprise or social entrepreneurship has evolving definitions. Mark Pomerantz, editor, Social Enterprise Magazine-Online, has described it thus: innovative, mission driven, outcome/social change oriented, income generating, activities that display an element of risk, business acumen, and effective non-traditional leadership. …

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