Squads Abroad is a 501c3 non-profit organization under our parent company Global Brigades, a Platinum Level Guidestar member for Financial Transparency. Since 2004, our organization has collectively mobilized more than 70,000 international volunteers to help resolve global health and economic disparities around the world.

Learn and apply concepts of entrepreneurship and business planning, including assessment using the Business Model Canvas and SWOT analysis, working with owners of microenterprises located in resource-limited rural communities in Panama.

Students are guided by our local economic development professionals to work with Panamanian business owners to discuss, analyze, and develop business plans to address issues and challenges. Working in small teams, students will meet multiple times with their clients to assess their business, learn the challenges that entrepreneurs face in Latin America, complete industry research, apply concepts of microfinance to improve their business, and utilize our deliverable templates to create and then present customized business plans to their clients.

In addition to our skills-based learning objectives, seeking to build intercultural competence is integrated into the course. English and Spanish versions of the final executive summary presentation and the client business plan will be developed with the assistance of our staff.

Business Entrepreneurship Learning Objectives

Students that successfully complete the Business Entrepreneurship Program will be able to:

  • Analyze economic and social issues impacting rural communities in a developing country.
  • Discuss concepts of microfinance utilized in community banking in Central America.
  • Consult with clients from rural communities in a developing country.
  • Analyze a business’s strengths and weaknesses to develop appropriate solutions.
  • Collaborate with student colleagues and rural-based business owners to develop business plans to help their clients improve their businesses.


This program includes Asynchronous and In-Person Sessions.  Modules 1-5 are Asynchronous and are to be completed before the trip to Panama. Module 6 is a live  Zoom session (scheduling to be coordinated with the faculty member and students),  and is also to be completed before the trip to Panama. Modules 7-21 are In-Person in Panama.

Module 1 – Self-paced Activities: Global Brigades Overview, Economic Context in Panama, Social Determinants Impacting the Economic Situation, and What Does It Mean to be a Consultant in an International Context?

  • Watch the Global Brigades Foundations video.
  • Students take a Quiz on the Global Brigades Foundations video.
  • Watch the video about the economic situation in Panama.
  • Students write at least two questions they would like to know more about the economic situation in Panama.
  • Watch the video on How to be a Consultant in an International Context.
  • Read  the articles on how to be a successful consultant in preparation for the In-Person program in Panama.

Module 2Self-paced Activities: How Global Brigades Supports Community Banks.

  • Watch Cajas Rurales video.
  • Note any questions that arise in anticipation of the In-Person discussion in Panama.

Module 3Self-paced Activities: Using the Business Model Canvas to Get to Know Your Panamanian Business Client.

  • Watch the Business Model Canvas video.
  • Watch the Getting From Business Idea to Business Model video.

Module 4Self-paced Activities: THE SWOT Analysis.

  • Watch what is the SWOT analysis video.

Module 5 – Self-paced follow-up activities: Getting to Know Your Community in Panama.

  • Students review the Community Profile.
  • Students will need to understand the living conditions in the community where their clients reside. Students prepare a list of questions for community members on Day 1 in Panama, based upon the assignment.

MODULE 6 – LIVE ZOOM SESSION (to be completed at least 1 week before the trip to Panama)

Module 6 – Live Zoom Session (scheduling to be coordinated with the faculty member and students)

  • Meet the In-Person Program coordinator.
  • Review the In-Person Itinerary, goals and objectives for the program, and Safety and Security Regulations.
  • The topic that students will develop as a leadership training activity for community banks will be introduced.
  • The topics that students will develop as a business management workshop for entrepreneurs will also be introduced.




Module 7Introduction to the In-Person Program (2 HOURS) 

Introductions and Review Itinerary

Staff and students introduce themselves to one another. Review of the program’s itinerary and ground rules.


Module 8  – Visiting the Community (9:00 AM- 11:00 AM)

Students visit the community and meet its leaders, identify the social determinants of health in the community (to be discussed in more detail in Module 9).

Module 9 – Discussion: Economic Context in Panama, Social Determinants Impacting the Economic Situation; What Does It Mean to be a Consultant in an International Context? How to Analyze a Client’s Business  Using the Business Model Canvas (BMC) (1:30- 3:30 PM)

Discuss the economic context in Panama, the social determinants affecting the economic situation of rural communities in this country, and key principles of international business consulting. Practice the use of the Business Model Canvas to assess business operations during a business consultation session, identify current key business outcomes, and identify potential improvements based on the client’s profile.

MODULE 10 – Discussion: Global Brigades and Community Banks (3:30- 4:00 PM)

Discuss the role of community banks in supporting small business owners in Panama, community bank requirements for the small business owners to receive a loan, and students will draft questions to be asked of the community bank leaders in Module 12.

Module 11 Preparation of the Business Management Workshop for Entrepreneurs (4:30- 6:30 PM) 

Students begin planning for a workshop to train business owners in areas of accounting, marketing, customer service, and inventory basics in Module 13. Students will also draft a brief statement in Spanish that they will use to introduce themselves both to the community bank leaders in Module 12 and their clients in Module 13.

Reflection and debrief time (7:30 – 8:00 PM)

Day 3

Module 12 – Meet your Client and the Board Members of the Community Bank (9:00 – 9:30 AM)

Introductory meeting with the client (entrepreneur) and the Board Members of the Community Bank where students will ask questions developed in Module 10.

Module 13 – Business Management Workshop for Community Member Entrepreneurs (9:30 AM – Noon)

Students will conduct a workshop for community members who are either aspiring or current entrepreneurs in customer service, accounting, marketing, and inventory basics.

Module 14 – Getting to Know Your Clients (1:00 -2:00 PM)

Students will work in groups to visit with their business clients to learn about their businesses in their community by using the BMC questions developed in Module 9.

Module 15 – Preparation of the Leadership Training for Community Bank Leaders (4:30- 6:30 PM) 

Students prepare a training session for community bank leaders on what it means to be a community leader and the skills to work successfully in a community bank.

Reflection and debrief time (7:30 – 8:00 PM)

Day 4

Module 16 – Client Consultation Session 1 (9:00 AM – Noon)

Student groups interview their clients through the framework of the Business Model Canvas. Students obtain qualitative and quantitative information from their client, while using communication skills such as active listening and rapport-building, among others.

Module 17 – Leadership Training Session for the Community Bank Leaders  (1:00  – 3:00 PM)

Students conduct a leadership training session for the community bank leaders.

Module 18Working Session 1: Analyzing your Client´s Business (4:30 – 6:30 PM)

Students in their groups will analyze the information gained through their client interviews, summarize the results using a SWOT analysis, begin to formulate solutions for their clients’ businesses, and begin to draft a business plan for their client.

Reflection and debrief time (7:30 – 8:00 PM)

Day 5

Module 19 – Client Consultation Session 2 (9:00 AM – Noon)

Student groups discuss possible solutions with their clients, and ask more questions as needed.

Module 19 – Working Session 2: Analyzing your Client´s Business (2:00 – 6:00 PM)

Students work in their groups to prepare a Written Report for their client, which consists of the client’s profile, BMC, SWOT analysis, business plan with recommended solutions to issues and challenges, timeline for implementation, and explanations of options. Students in their groups will present an overview of their Written Report to their Coordinator for feedback.

 Reflection and debrief time (7:30- 8:00 PM) 

Day 6 

Module 20 – Student Group Presentations to their Clients (9:00 AM – Noon)

Student groups present an overview of their Written Report to their client.

Module 20 – Cultural Exchange with the Community (2:00 – 4:00 PM)

Module 21 – Final Reflection on the Program Experiences (7:00 – 8:00 PM)

Day 7

Travel to airport and return flight


Request Information

Are you a student and not a faculty member? Find a student-led brigade Chapter near you.