Drawing from discussions on the panacea problem in microfinance and natural resource management, we scrutinize a ‘green microfinance plus’ programme – Proyecto CAMBio – in a specific setting in Nicaragua, focusing in particular on its interaction with local development pathways. The programme was designed to promote biodiversity-friendly land uses through the combination of credit provision, technical assistance and conditional economic incentives. In our case study, we highlight the focus on individual producers, the implicit targeting of more established medium-sized producers, and the uncritical promotion of a particular technical model of production. The project might thereby have failed to identify and revert some negative processes of environmental degradation and did not consciously engage with the dynamics and political arenas of sustainable development. We call for a more holistic territorial perspective that is conducive to more strategic thinking about the interactive socio-technical dynamics and ensuing opportunities and constraints for different producer types and technical-commercial models. Such strategic reflection is both inevitable and political, as it impacts on the opening and closing of avenues for more or less socially inclusive and environmentally sound development pathways.