Accounting & Finance III - Auditing Rural Banks to Advance Microfinance Initiatives (Panama)

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Conduct scaled-down financial audits on small community-owned banks in rural Central America.

In partnership with Eskala, Inc, an innovative microfinance organization, students are guided by local technicians and mentors from leading accounting firms to audit rural community-owned banks in Panama. Through interviews with bank leaders and reviewing accounting ledgers, students will do an audit on the community bank and finalize their financial statements for external reporting. Students gain additional exposure to the inter-workings of a microfinance organization and basic banking. The curriculum culminates in a “letter to management” on how to improve their practices that is also shared with Eskala, Inc leadership.

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) and Eskala (a sister microfinance / microequity institution) 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: Microequity

Talk with GB Economic Development Expert to learn about the innovation of microequity and how Eskala invests and owns shares of rural banks and cooperatives in emerging economies. Self-paced activity: Group reflects on the distinction of microequity vs. traditional microfinance concepts.

Module 3: Presenting the Rural Bank Client (Caja Rural)

Coordinator presents information about the Caja Rural that the group is going to audit. Self-paced activity: Group reviews information about the caja’s operations and researches their geographical and cultural context.

Module 4: Audits

Coordinator presents how the group is going to audit the bank financials and the importance of validating their financial statements. Self-paced activity: Group reviews audit guidelines and processes.

Module 5: Introductory Meeting with Rural Bank Leaders

Introductory meeting between rural bank client and group to build relationship and have a cultural exchange. Self-paced Activity: Group reviews notes from client meeting and divides into teams to begin the audit.

Module 6: Bank Governance

Coordinator presents how the important governance practices that rule the bank and how those functions are tested during the audit. Self-paced activity: Group reviews governance practices.

Module 7: Mentor Session with Professional Accountant from Deloitte or Accenture

Mentor and GB coordinator help prepare the group to ask questions for the audit. Self-paced Activity: Group prepares and assigns questions to ask clients based on mentor guidance.

Module 8: Interviewing Client

Live virtual session with bank leaders to ask questions about their financials and governance processes. Self-paced Activity: Group begins work to create return on investment projections.

Modules 9, 10 and 11: Conducting the Audit and Drafting Management Letter

Two working sessions with coordinators to conduct audit with the support of the field staff and mentors. Self-paced Activity: Continuing working in teams to finalize audit and create management letter.

Module 12: Submitting Audited Financial Statements and Management Letter for Final Mentor Feedback

Group submits audited financial statements and management letter for final feedback from mentors. Self-paced Activity: Group refines financial statements and letter based on feedback.

Module 13: Presentation to the Caja Leaders

Group shares results of the audit and shares recommendations from the management letter. Self-paced Activity: Group creates audit letter for Eskala leadership.

Module 14: Presentation to Eskala Leadership

Group shares results of the audit to Eskala leadership team members to provide insights into the performance of the banks along with recommendations for technical follow-up. Self-paced Activity: Gather activities for cultural activity.

Module 15: 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

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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