International Business I - Globalization and Rural Microenterprises (Panama)

Consulting small businesses in the context of rural Panama with SWOT framework. Gain an understanding of globalization and apply broad business skills in the context of microenterprises in rural Central America.

Students are guided by economic development professionals in Panama to learn the cultural context of one of the world’s most important trade routes, the Panama Canal. Students work alongside mentors from leading consulting firms to identify growth opportunities or areas of efficiency to help our clients, microenterprises in rural resource-limited communities. Through client interviews, concepts of microfinance, cultural sharing, and utilization of our deliverable templates, students create and present their deliverables to the clients for consideration.

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) economic development programs in Panama. Self-paced activity: Group reviews the economic development program materials in the context of GB’s Holistic Model for community development.

Module 2: Country Overview and Role In Globalization

Talk with GB Economic Development Expert to learn about Panama’s unique role in globalization and both the economic and social effects. Self-paced activity: Analyze the effect of globalization in rural/indigenous communities and their integration in Global Supply Chains.

Module 3: Economic Development and Microfinance

Talk with GB Economic Development Expert to learn about businesses in the developing world, an introduction to microfinance, and the role of small businesses in reducing poverty. Self-paced activity: Group reflects on GB’s economic development model and the role of microfinance as a tool for poverty alleviation. Spanish competition: group encouraged to create Duolingo accounts and compete for “rewards” for who gets furthest throughout the class.

Module 4: Client Selection

Coordinator presents three potential client profiles and supports students in choosing. Self-paced activity: Group reviews client information and informs staff of client selection.

Module 5: SWOT Framework

Coordinator walks through the SWOT framework as a tool to examine and consult businesses. Self-paced activity: Group reviews business templates and sample deliverable materials.

Module 6: Initial Client Meeting Preparation

Coordinator presents client information, including a virtual business tour, and the context of the business beforehand. Self-paced Activity: Students review the Spanish business packet and Executive Summary template to prepare their initial questions for the clients.

Module 7: Initial Client Meeting

Introductory meeting between client and group to build relationship and have cultural exchange. Self-paced Activity: Group reviews notes from the client meeting and divides into teams and assigns tasks by business topic/deliverable.

Module 8: Mentor Session with Professional Consultant

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 business clients based on mentor guidance.

Module 9: Client Consultation Day

Live virtual session with business clients to do SWOT analysis and gather information for final business deliverables. Up to 2 hrs. Self-paced Activity: Group begins work on creating business deliverables utilizing templates.

Modules 10 and 11: Deliverable Creation

Two working sessions with coordinators to answer questions and help students create their business deliverables. Self-paced Activity: Continuing working in teams to finalize deliverables.

Module 12: Deliverable Submission and Final Mentor Feedback

Group submits final deliverables and presentations for final feedback from mentors. Self-paced Activity: Make any last edits to the presentation and final deliverables based on mentor feedback.

Module 13: Microfinance Activity with Kiva

Group works to support access to small business loans by providing loan updates to Kiva donors. GB is a partner of Kiva (a microloan crowdfunding platform). Self-paced Activity: Review Kiva platform, its place in globalization, and whether your client would be a good candidate for lenders to invest in.

Module 14: Presentation to Client

Group presents via a video conference to the client with the coordinator providing translation. Group receives feedback from the client. Up to 2 hrs. Self-paced Activity: Group decides to make a donation to capitalize any loans needed for the specific client or helps create a Kiva profile for them. Students complete the evaluation survey and prepare final reflections. Procure cooking materials and watch the instructional cooking video.

Module 15: Cultural Activity and Project Celebration

GB coordinator debriefs the group on client feedback of deliverables 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

Impact Reporting

Students will be included in Global Brigades’ regular newsletters and receive project updates and overall monitoring and evaluation of our programs.


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