Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Laying the foundation for market research in Fiji

Greetings from Fiji … or “Bula” as the locals say. 

As MBA Program Chair, I’m here for a quick trip laying the foundation for a team of three MBA students who will arrive in two weeks to a complete a market research project for the South Pacific Business Development Foundation (SPBDF), a nonprofit micro-lender to women, who has operated for 10 years in Samoa and now wants to begin operations in Fiji. 

Greg Casagrande, the SPBDF’s founder (whose efforts in poverty amelioration are so successful that he was highlighted on the "Making a Difference" series on NBC News), called me, asked the Kelley School MBA Program for assistance, and we have obliged.

During their 10-day visit, the student team will survey women micro-entrepreneurs about their credit and savings needs, speak with banks and government agencies about current micro-credit offerings in Fiji, and recommend how the SPBDF can position its brand and products to insure a sustainable nonprofit business model

This fuels a larger strategic effort by the Kelley MBA Program to expand experiences for students in emerging markets. For example, the program’s Global Business and Social Enterprise (GLOBASE) spring break course that has been in Peru for two years will expand to Ghana and India in Spring 2011. 

These experiences are designed not only to expose students to global markets, but to accelerate development of micro-social and leadership skills that will make students effective executives in companies and organizations. 

The uncertainties and unfamiliarity of completing a Kelley School project in a developing country prepares students well for unexpected challenges in corporate America.

Guest blog entry provided by Phil Powell, Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy and Faculty Chair, MBA Program at the Kelley School of Business, from a planning trip in Suva, Fiji.

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