The Hand in Hand's Story of Making Microfinance Work for the Bottom of the Pyramid
The case focuses on Hand in Hand Eastern Africa (HiH EA), a member organization of Hand in Hand (HiH). HiH is a global group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) cofounded by Percy Barnevik, a renowned Swedish business executive and Dr. Kalpana Sankar, a nuclear physicist. HiH consists of network partners in India, Southern Africa, Eastern Africa, Afghanistan, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Their model focuses on enterprise development and job creation. However, they also have a strong microfinance program aimed at serving those nascent entrepreneurs at the very bottom of the pyramid who have limited funding options in the mainstream market. Through HiH EA's Enterprise Incubation Fund (EIF), nascent entrepreneurs are able to access loans up to US$233. Various organizational stakeholders (entrepreneurs/ clients, HiH EA's field officers) have begun to call for an increase in the EIF loan cap. This presents a challenge for Ms. Pauline Ngari, HiH EA's chief executive officer. Ms. Ngari questions whether raising the EIF lending cap will benefit all stakeholders as well as the organization itself given its long term strategic plan, its model, and core mission of serving those at the very bottom of the pyramid. Ms. Ngari is facing internal pressure to keep the organization financially sound, but she also faces external pressure to meet the short term needs of HiH EA's clientele and conform to current microfinance industry lending standards while at the same time avoiding mission drift. HiH EA's Board of Trustees will be meeting soon to consider the EIF loan cap decision and have asked Ms. Ngari to provide them a balanced and informed recommendation regarding whether or not they should raise the EIF loan cap. The case provides an overview of the microfinance industry in Kenya detailing the significant challenges which microfinance organizations face as well as demonstrates the tremendous microfinance growth opportunities that exists in the country. Given the opportunities and challenges currently present in the microfinance industry in Kenya and keeping in mind HiH EA's core mission and long term strategies, students must decide what Ms. Ngari should recommend to the board of trustees.