Learn and apply concepts of return on investment and microfinance in the context of small businesses in rural Central America.
Students are guided by our local staff and mentors from leading accounting firms to support microenterprises and farmers in rural Panama with an asset-based approach to identifying business opportunities and calculating return on investment to make business decisions. Through client interviews, concepts of microfinance, and financial literacy workshops students work with selected clients to do the return of investment analysis and apply 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 TeleSquad 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 Squads Abroad (SA) and the work of our parent organization 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: Microfinance
Talk with GB Economic Development Expert to learn about microfinance and its role in supporting small businesses in emerging economies. Self-paced activity: Group reflects on our 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 3: Presenting the Rural Bank Client (Caja Rural)
Coordinator presents information about the Caja Rural that the group is going to support. Self-paced activity: Group reviews information about the caja’s operations and researches their geographical and cultural context.
Module 4: Return on Investment Analysis
Coordinator presents how to do a return on investment analysis as it relates to making small business loans. Self-paced activity: Group reviews return on investment framework and relevant financial terms.
Module 5: Introductory Meeting with Rural Bank Leaders
Introductory meeting between rural bank client 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 looking at loan applications.
Module 6: Mentor Session with Professional Finance 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 clients based on mentor guidance.
Module 7: Client Consultation Day
Live virtual session with potential borrowers to gather data to create a return on investment projection. Self-paced Activity: Group begins work to create return on investment projections.
Modules 8 and 9: Creating the Accounting Ledger and Bookkeeping Workshops
Two working sessions with coordinators to answer questions and help students create return on investment projections. Self-paced Activity: Continuing working in teams to finalize projections and financial literacy workshops.
Module 10: ROI Submission and Final Mentor Feedback
Group submits final ROI calculations and workshops for final feedback from mentors. Self-paced Activity: Group refines workshops and analysis based on mentor feedback.
Module 11: Financial Literacy Workshop with Client(s)
Group delivers a workshop on financial literacy to other small businesses in the community. Self-paced Activity: Group finalizes ROI analysis specific to the client.
Module 12: Presenting ROI Analysis to Clients
Group shares ledger with the client and answers questions from the client. Self-paced Activity: Group prepares recommendations to the caja leaders.
Module 13: Recommendations to the Caja Leaders
Group shares the results with the caja leaders and makes loan recommendations with their feedback. Self-paced Activity: Group decides to make a donation to capitalize any loans needed for a 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 14: 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 15: Cultural Activity and Project Celebration
Squads coordinator debriefs 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 Squads Aboad’s regular newsletters and receive project updates and overall monitoring and evaluation of our programs.
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