Texas Tech University

Rawls College Students Go On Global Business Brigade

August 17, 2017 | By: Kaitlin York 

Fourteen Texas Tech students, ten of whom were Rawls College students, went on a Global Business Brigade trip to Granadilla, Honduras from May 24 to 30. During the brigade, students conducted market research to identify an idea for an emerging small business and proposed a business plan.

After arriving in Granadilla, students met with the 'caja rural,' or community bank, which was composed of volunteers from the community who wanted to work with and be educated by the Global Brigades organization. At the meeting, students learned how the community earns income, what a community member's day looks like, and the types of enterprises the community may be interested in.

The following two days were spent touring the community and speaking with its residents. The students began to investigate what type of business would be successful in the community. After discovering that the community already had over fifty cashew trees that could be processed, packaged and sold, the students decided to propose the creation of a cashew production and processing facility.

On the fourth day, the students hosted an educational workshop for the children in the community. The older children were given an interactive presentation on supply chain and then created their own product. The younger children were given a coloring project that illustrated the difference between man-made and natural products.

The students presented their cashew production plan to the caja rural on the final day. Using some of the money they raised, they suggested purchasing packaging materials and cashew plants so the community could begin selling cashews while also building up their resources. The students hope the community will make enough income to build a processing facility and produce the quantity of cashews required to start exporting their products within five years.

After answering the caja rural's questions, the students were given a party to show the community's appreciation. The party included traditional dancing and food. The students also had the chance to share their culture through music and dance.

The Global Business Brigade chapter was established by Kloe Burris, a junior agriculture and applied economics and general business dual major, in October 2016. She learned about the organization after completing a Global Health Brigade to Panama in May 2016.

"I decided to establish the Global Business Brigades at Texas Tech because of the incredible impact the organization can have on students as well as the community to which we travel," she said.

After deciding to establish the chapter, she began recruiting students to go with her. When she approached Corin Drumm, a sophomore management information systems major, about the brigade, she said he was not completely sure what to expect, but felt she had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

As Burris promised, students who completed brigade felt it was very rewarding and felt being exposed to a different culture valuable.

"The most rewarding part of the trip was seeing the difference you were making in the people's lives and getting to experience a new culture," Austin Mireles, a junior marketing and management dual major, said.

Students were inspired by the dedication of the people in the Granadilla community. Connecting with people from a different culture who were interested in developing and empowering their community through hard work was a great experience, Michael Ryan Mann, a junior management information systems major, said.

"The Granadilla community showed a willingness to learn that completely reinforces the idea that sustainability is possible through microfinance," he said.

Not only did the brigade allow students to gain service experience, students were given the opportunity to utilize the education they have received from the Rawls College thus far.

"My experience with the Global Business Brigades gave me immeasurable confidence in my ability to actually use my education in a real-world setting," Baily Hufnagle, a sophomore agriculture and applied economics and general business dual major, said. "Moreover, volunteering in a small Honduras community where local schooling ends after sixth grade taught me that I am not only an American citizen, but I am also a global citizen with the responsibility to use my educational resources to help others."

Myranda Villanueva, a senior agriculture and applied economics and general business dual major, said she would encourage other students to go on a brigade.

"I will always carry my memories and the amazing people of Granadilla with me," she said.

There is another business brigade planned between Spring 2018 commencement and the beginning of Summer 1 where students will be going back to Granadilla. If you are interested, please contact Kloe Burris at kloe.burris@ttu.edu.

The Rawls students who went on the brigade include:

Kloe Burris: General Business & Agriculture and Applied Economics
Bailey Hufnagle: General Business & Agriculture and Applied Economics
Myranda Villanueva: General Business & Agriculture and Applied Economics
Brandon Bowers: Marketing
Andrew Thornton: Management
Michael Ryan Mann: Management Information Systems
Austin Mireles: Marketing & Management
Devon Phillips: Finance & Management
Shayne Butler: Finance & Biology
Corin Drumm: Management Information Systems

The students want to thank their sponsors:

Bayer Crop Science, Collision King, Hurley Funeral Homes, Mr. Jerry Rawls, Reagor Dykes, RD Innovations, TNT Truck Outfitters, Pleasanton Learning Center, Tendercare Learning Center, City Bank, Allways Auto Group

The students documented their travels and created this video: