Published: July 19th, 2021
Written by: GB Marketing Intern, Gurpreet Kaur
If you are wondering about what a Business Brigade is like or what valuable experience you can gain from getting involved with one, this blog may help guide you into making the decision to take it on! Not only will you become a part of an amazing community and gain invaluable hands-on or virtual experience, but you will be making an incredible difference in people’s lives through contributing your accumulated knowledge and quality experiences to support with the success of small businesses in Panama.
Amir Alinaghian, Founder & President of the University of Waterloo Global Business Brigades Chapter
One of the keys to our Business Brigades is partnering volunteers with professional mentors who guide them alongside local staff to create high quality business plans and materials for their clients. One of the most recent business consultants we’ve worked with is long-time GB volunteer Amir Alinaghian, who currently works as a Product Manager at Oracle. During our conversation with Amir, he offered incredible insight into how his experiences with Global Brigades helped shape his perspectives in such a meaningful way. He also reveals how the bonds he created and the amazing contributions he was able to make with volunteers, GB staff, and community members have made an incredible impact within under-resourced communities in Panama.
Amir started his journey with Global Brigades in 2015 on a Medical Brigade. Since then, Amir has started the University of Waterloo (UWaterloo) Business Brigades chapter, grew the organization into the largest chapter across Canada with the help of 60+ executive team members, and led three Business Brigades to Panama from 2016 to 2018; fundraising more than $45,000 and awarding $8,000+ in scholarships to UWaterloo students throughout the process. Across these three brigades, 53 volunteers from six universities and four countries consulted 11 clients, advised two community banks, and organized more than 20 financial literacy workshops across three Panamanian communities (Ipeti Guna, Ipeti Embera, Pueblo Nuevo).
How did Global Business Brigades prepare you for pursuing post-grad academics or career paths?
Global Business Brigades (GBB) played a significant role in preparing me for post-grad academics and several professional paths – such as consulting, product management, accounting and finance – by providing the knowledge, experience, leadership and confidence needed for a successful career.
As chapter president, I had the opportunity to lead a team of volunteers and executives for over three years, manage the operations and strategy of the organization, coordinate three annual business brigades to Panama, and motivate teams towards a common goal. As a GBB consultant, I had the opportunity to solve complex business problems, develop innovative strategies, lead market research, and work with the GBB team to deliver sustainable holistic solutions for clients such as Community Banks, Artisanal Arts & Crafts enterprises and Agricultural Cooperatives.
Global Business Brigades continues to partner with leading consulting firms like Deloitte to inspire professional mentors like Amir to provide guidance to university student volunteers and to ensure that our partner clients in Panama, Honduras, and Greece receive the highest quality of consulting services.
We are currently seeking student leaders to start new Business Brigades chapters, or to join an existing chapter on your campus. To learn more about our programs, and to work with our professional mentors and community partners, visit our website or fill out a Chapter President interest form. If you are a professional and would like to be a mentor for a Business Brigade, email us today to get more information.
Thank you Amir and all of our volunteers for continuing to partner with communities around the world!