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  • Featuring Greg Casagrande
  • Written by Greg Casagrande

A carefully selected and well-managed board can help your enterprise reach its full potential. However, many social entrepreneurs are hesitant to elect a governing board, fearing it will limit the effectiveness of the management team.

Scholarship, sustained effort, an entrepreneurial mindset, and a genuine commitment to making a lasting positive difference are good building blocks upon which to construct a meaningful career. Gregory F. Casagrande prepared long and hard for what he has become.

Despite the flow of billions of dollars in aid to the world’s poorest areas, abject poverty remains ever-present in many countries and regions, especially among women, who according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) make up 70 percent of the world’s poor, and 65 percent of the world’s illiterate.

Individuals and businesses are becoming increasingly aware of their social, environmental, and ethical responsibilities, which is contributing to the recent surge in ‘social enterprises.’ Although the concept of a social enterprise is not new, the majority of social impact organizations were founded in the last decade.

Over the last 20 years, the microfinance industry has made significant strides in the ongoing war against poverty. Key achievements include providing the poor with access to a broad range of financial services including credit (for micro-enterprise development, for basic housing, for childhood education), savings accounts, insurance facilities, remittance provisions, and business skills training.

People in some of the world’s poorest countries are trapped in a vicious cycle, they have no opportunity for meaningful employment, and they have no ability to access capital to start a small income-generating business. If they had access to financing, to start a small business, then that could put them onto a path for a prosperous future.

In most cases, real-world change, designed to improve the economic conditions of the world’s poorest, is only possible through grassroots efforts. For regions struggling with poverty, the problem must be addressed first at the individual level. To improve the overarching economy, grassroots efforts are critical. According to Gregory Casagrande, that’s where microfinance has shown proven and consistent results.

Greg Casagrande launched South Pacific Business Development Foundation (SPBD) in the remote island nation of Samoa in January 2000. He has since lead SPBD to become the largest and first successful microfinance institution in the region. Greg also serves on the board of PlaNet Finance and the The Prgaue Institute.

Mr. Casagrande has an extensive and successful corporate financial background that has taken him to work all over the world. In his line of work, he has been most interested in the Pacific Islands and with specifically the idea of helping the economies of developing nations. Mr. Casagrande commenced his career pursuits by first earning a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Colgate University in 1985.

MicroDreams’ partner in the South Pacific, SPBD, and founder, Greg Casagrande, featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams

The popular New Zealand morning show, Breakfast, interviews SPBD’s founder and President Greg Casagrande about his work in Samoa.

Greg Casagrande - Person of the Year

They are people who have made a difference in their field of expertise or profession, and to the people and communities they serve.

The two very different sides to entrepreneur Greg Casagrande are evident the moment you meet him. His business card is an early
tip-off: Casagrande leads a schizophrenic working life making and spending money.
The second is the two curriculum vitae he has tucked away in his Auckland downtown office drawer.

Make your money work for you. It’s something we often hear when the finance industry markets its products and services. However, in recent years, something interesting has begun to happen. Not only can you make your money work for you by earning interest in savings accounts or investing it in mutual funds or ETFs, but you can also make it work for the greater good.

In the world of investing and finance, the word microfinance may not come up often. It is however a significant global initiative geared towards improving the lives of the impoverished, particularly in third world countries.

If you’ve seen the popular television programs Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank, you likely have a decent understanding of angel investing, whether you’ve assigned it that title or not. Angel investing is the practice of exchanging capital for equity in a company, product, or idea. In the case of the TV shows mentioned above, especially wealthy investors with specialties in different markets listen to pitches from various entrepreneurs and decide whether they think they can make a profit on their ideas. While an excellent source of entertainment, these programs don’t always discuss the nuanced benefits of angel investing.

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Gregory Casagrande is happy to connect and share his experiences in microfinance, social entrepreneurship, impact investing and more. Follow or contact Gregory to learn more.