Digitize Savings & Loan Portfolios for Banks: Learn about and participate in a live cloud-based implementation that connects rural banks throughout Central America.
In partnership with Eskala, Inc, students are guided by local microfinance technicians to digitize financial records and processes for community-owned banks in Honduras, Panama, and Nicaragua. Through interviews with bank leaders and learning the tools of our phone app, students will work with bank leaders to input historical records, integrate them onto the platform, and conduct workshops to support technology adoption. Students gain exposure in blockchain technology, accounting ledgers, microfinance, data analysis, and the challenges of user adoption in the context of remote, rural, and resource-limited communities in Central America. The curriculum culminates in a report to Eskala’s management comparing the performance of loan portfolios between the community-owned banks in the different countries of operation.
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 STEM 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: FinTech
Talk with GB Economic Development Expert to learn about rural banks and the technologies that are enabling microfinance in emerging economies. Self-paced activity: Group reflects on the microfinance model and the role of technology as a tool to scale it. 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 rural bank client that the group is going to support. Self-paced activity: Group reviews information about the bank’s operations and researches their geographical and cultural context.
Module 4: Cloud-based Solution – LoanDisk
Coordinator presents on LoanDisk, our loan servicing software. Self-paced activity: Group reviews LoanDisk data fields 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 Technology 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 bank leaders to gather data on their current systems to start entering data in LoanDisk. Self-paced Activity: Group begins setting up the LoanDisk profile for the bank.
Modules 8 and 9: Data Input and Bookkeeping Workshops
Two working sessions with coordinators to answer questions and help students set up the bank into the software and build out the training workshops. Self-paced Activity: Continuing working in teams to finalize software setup and training workshops.
Module 10: Project Submission and Final Mentor Feedback
Group presents bank profile with their data and the training workshops for the coordinator and mentor to provide feedback. Self-paced Activity: Group refines workshops and data sets based on mentor feedback.
Module 11 and 12: Training Workshops to Bank Leaders
Group delivers two workshops on LoanDisk for the bank leaders to take ownership of the project. Self-paced Activity: Group finalizes ROI analysis specific to the client.
Module 13: Microfinance Activity with Kiva
Group works to support access to small business loans by providing loan updates to Kiva donors. Squads Abroad is a partner of Kiva (a microloan crowdfunding platform). Self-paced Activity: Review the Kiva platform, its place in globalization, and whether your client would be a good candidate for lenders to invest in.
Module 14: 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 Abroad’s regular newsletters and receive project updates and overall monitoring and evaluation of our programs.
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