Credit Cards for the Poor: HSBC in Sri Lanka

by: Raed Elaydi

Publication Date: January 31, 2010
Length: 6 pages
Product ID#: 1-428-888

Core Disciplines: Base of the Pyramid, Ethics, Leadership/Organizational Behavior

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Teaching Note

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This case follows the vision of Dalshan Ismail, Executive Director of HSBC’s Sri Lankan credit card business for HSBC’s credit card venture in Sri Lanka. He realized that the bottom of the pyramid represented an untapped consumer market in which businesses, especially multi-national corporations (MNCs), can alleviate poverty with market solutions. To reach the Base of the Pyramid, HSBC issued credit cards with limited identification and residency requirements, highly flexible employment verification, and limited proof of monthly income amounting and achieved success without contrived government monopolies or unethical business practices.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Describe appropriate business terms and principles
  • Apply critical concepts to define a solution to the case,
  • Successfully articulate data and information in support of the solution proposed,
  • Critically analyze and discuss other responses and solutions to the case,
  • Draw lessons from the case analysis,
  • Generalize the case's teachings to other business challenges and decisions in organizations other than the one analyzed in this case study,
  • Demonstrate leadership and scholarship in analysis.