Global Business Brigades: Empowering Communities
About Global Business Brigades
Global Brigades is the world’s largest student-led organization that seeks to empower under-resourced communities to resolve global health and economic disparities and inspire all involved to collaboratively work towards an equal world.
Vision & Mission
This upcoming spring break will mark the ninth year that the Carnegie Mellon Global Business Brigade chapter will be sending a team of 15 students to aid a rural community in Panama. Our team consists of students from a variety of academic colleges including College of Fine Arts, Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences, Tepper School of Business, and Carnegie Institute of Technology. The primary goal of our brigade is to improve business knowledge and provide sustainable solutions to small businesses in underdeveloped communities in Panama. Not only do we address issues such as accounting, operations and management skills, but we also try to instill in the families a confidence in their own abilities and the empowerment to continue to improve their lives even after our departure. Even though we will only be abroad for one week, the project is year-long and encompasses awareness, project planning, and project follow-up as well.
Community Impact & Sustainability
Although Panama City is rapidly developing to become an economic powerhouse in Latin America, nearly half of its rural population lives below the poverty line - many of which are indigenous communities. Due to the extreme polarization in socioeconomic status in Panama, many indigenous communities which hold onto traditional clothing like paruma skirts or mola-patterned garments are not permitted to even enter banking institutions. As a result, many indigenous people grow up outside of the financial system without access to the banking system, basic accounting, budgeting, and management knowledge. In addition to teaching the community members accounting, operation, and management skills, we also provide them with the tools to create a bank for their own indigenous communities. This is a key aspect of what we do. We hope to provide knowledge that impacts the community beyond our direct lessons. By enabling the community members we create a sustainable system that is not dependent on monetary donations. From our experiences abroad, we have learned how privileged we are as students fortunate enough to have been born within the financial system.
Throughout the week, the majority of the community members we work with are women. Due to the patriarchal nature of the communities, many of these women lack the confidence and assertiveness to have their voice heard within their community. By working closely with these women and passing on our financial knowledge, we are able to see the women grow confident in their skills, take charge in leading the financial institutions within their communities, and share their newfound knowledge with their friends and family.
Traveling to Panama is essential for CMU Global Business Brigades. However, meeting the high cost of the trip is our greatest challenge. With 15 traveling members, our approximate total cost is $23,000, which includes brigade logistics (lodging and food), project continuation & sustainable transitions as well as travel expenses to Panama. We fundraise tirelessly throughout the year, from selling Krispy Kreme Donuts to participating in psychology studies on campus. By contributing to our organization, you would be able to help us meet our $3,500 goal in order to make the trip possible for all of our traveling members.