Start Date: Dec 27, 2013 12:00 AM
End Date: Jan 3, 2014 12:00 AM
Volunteer Activity Description:
Texas A&M volunteers will spend 7 days in a rural community in Panama to help provide solutions to the community’s economic needs. The target beneficiaries have been previously excluded from formal financial institutions & therefore lacked access to savings and credit opportunities. Beneficiaries tend to have a low level of income, lack of collateral, & low level of education. During the brigade, volunteers divide into small groups to conduct household visits in which they get to know the family, assess each household’s level of financial competency and entrepreneurial aspirations. After the assessments the volunteers provide educational and technical assistance in the form of workshops. Topics range from personal finance to basic accounting and business planning. Additionally, volunteers invest in the community savings and loan (S&L) cooperative by providing seed capital. In turn, the seed capital provides loans to a small business to either expand current operations or pursue a new entrepreneurial opportunity. Working side-by-side with community members affords volunteers the opportunity for cultural exchange, micro-finance, and consulting experience. The households benefit by learning personal financial and business skills and gain access to credit and savings opportunities. Community businesses benefit from the consulting and loans. The community benefits because the profits earned by the S&L stay in the community to be used by the community!