Learn and apply concepts of accounting and finance in the context of microenterprises in rural Central America and improve accounting practices for small rural banks in Central America.
Students are guided by our local staff and mentors from leading accounting firms to support microenterprises and farmers in rural Panama with basic bookkeeping and financial literacy. Through client interviews, concepts of microfinance, and financial literacy workshops, students work with selected clients on setting up their accounting ledgers and doing a return on investment analysis for microloans that could grow their business. The engagement culminates in the students working with our technicians to post new and report on existing loans that are provided through Kiva.org.
In addition to our skill-based learning objectives, building cultural competence is integrated into the course to increase the quality of services and improve outcomes with community partners.
Customize your Business TeleBrigade by selecting a set of modules. Explore available modules below:
Module 1: Introductions and Program Overview
Coordinator and student introductions along with a presentation on Global Brigades (GB) in Panama. Self-paced activity: Group reviews Panama economic development program materials in the context of GB’s Holistic Model for community development.
Module 2: Village Savings and Loans Groups (Caja Rurales)
Talk with GB Economic Development Expert to learn about our rural community banking model (referred to as a caja rural) and how these informal savings and loan groups play a critical role in poverty alleviation. Self-paced activity: Group reflects on Panama’s caja rural model and draws parallels to early-stage credit unions in the U.S.
Module 3: Client Selection
Coordinator presents the specific Caja Rural client that the group is going to support. Self-paced activity: Group reviews client information and researches what farming/production industries it lends to for community context.
Module 4: Bookkeeping for Village Savings and Loan Groups (Caja Rurales)
Coordinator walks through basic accounting terms and our bookkeeping framework for cajas rurales to generate a profit and loss statement. Self-paced activity: Group reviews basic financial terms like revenue, expenses, assets and liabilities, along with basic bookkeeping entries.
Module 5: Initial Client Meeting Preparation
Coordinator presents any existing accounting records of the client, including paper copies of transactions. Self-paced Activity: Students review the Spanish business packet and template to prepare their initial questions for the clients.
Module 6: Initial Client Meeting
Introductory meeting between leaders of the caja rural and group to build relationship and have cultural exchange. Self-paced Activity: Group reviews notes from the client meeting and divides them into teams to begin segmenting bookkeeping entries to begin creating the financial statements.
Module 7: Mentor Session with Professional Accountant
Mentor and GB coordinator help prepare the group to ask the most strategic questions during the consultation day. Self-paced Activity: Group prepares and assigns questions to ask clients based on mentor guidance.
Module 8: Client Consultation Day
Live virtual session with business clients to answer questions and gather information to create the profit and loss statement. Up to 2 hrs. Self-paced Activity: Group begins work to create financial statement and bookkeeping workshops.
Modules 9 and 10: Working Sessions to Creating Profit and Loss Statement and Bookkeeping Workshops
Two working sessions with coordinators to answer questions and help students work on their project. Self-paced Activity: Continuing working in teams to finalize financial statements and workshops.
Module 11: Project Submission and Final Mentor Feedback
Group submits final P&L statement and workshops for final feedback from mentors. Self-paced Activity: Make any last edits to the presentation and final deliverables based on mentor feedback.
Module 12: Bookkeeping Workshop with Client(s)
Group delivers bookkeeping workshop to the client and potentially other small businesses in the community. Self-paced Activity: Group finalizes a ledger specific to the client.
Module 13: Presenting the Profit and Loss Statement to the Client
Group shares the P&L statement with the client and answers questions from the client. Self-paced Activity: Group decides to make a donation to capitalize additional loans or helps create Kiva profile for them. Students complete the evaluation survey and prepare final reflections. Procure cooking materials and watch the instructional cooking video.
Module 14: Cultural Activity and Project Celebration
GB coordinator debriefs the group on clients’ feedback and reflects on personal and professional development. The team celebrates and shows off how their local dish turned out. Self-paced Activity: Group reviews monitoring and evaluation reports
Students will be included in Global Brigades’ regular newsletters and receive project updates and overall monitoring and evaluation of our programs.
Are you a student and not a faculty member? Find a student-led brigade Chapter near you.