Gina Occhipinti

Gina Occhipinti’s exploration of the world of microfinance began with a class with Professor Michael Swack and led her to in nine weeks in the Philippines funded by a SURF Abroad grant from the Hamel Center. In the Philippines Gina interviewed women entrepreneurs who were micro-loan recipients. Her research culminated in a report for a large microfinance organization, CARD-MRI. The report described ways that CARD-MRI could provide business development services to micro-entrepreneurs in a financially sustainable way.

Catch a glimpse of Gina’s 2017 SURF Abroad experience in the Philippines in this video.

Below you may read her abstract, originally published in Inquiry, UNH's online undergraduate research journal.  For the complete research article, visit Inquiry.


Funding Business Development Services for Women Microentrepreneurs in the Philippines

After lending small sums of money to poor people in Bangladesh in the 1970s, economics professor Muhammad Yunus was onto a new way to finance the poor and fight poverty: through microfinance. Since then, many approaches have been taken to lend to those in poverty, help them save money, and help them start businesses. Microfinance organizations provide loans, business advisory services, marketing help, insurance, and more. Business development services especially complement loan assistance because they provide nonfinancial help essential to running a business, such as accounting skills, product development, supply chain management, and more. In 2017, I traveled to San Pablo City, Laguna, Philippines to research at the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD), a global leader in microfinance. With funding from a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), I studied at one of CARD’s institutions, the Business Development Service Foundation, Inc. (BDSFI), to research financially sustainable business models for providing high-quality business development services to microentrepreneurs. After reviewing literature in the field and interviewing clients, I found that a market facilitation model that incorporates fees or a percentage of sales would be the most feasible model. This validated BDSFI’s existing practices and affirmed that they could charge clients for business development services. I also presented the organization with several other models as options.