Calvin Business Brigades

May 2010 Brigade Team Returns from Panama

Posted in May 2010 by Ashley Luse on June 10, 2010

Congratulations to our May 2010  Team on a successful Brigade!  The team of students, led by fearless co-presidents David Robb and Nick Bakker, returned to Comarca Kuna Yala to begin a new business consulting project.  This project is more complex because the team is working with two communities (the island community of Caledonia and the community of Carreto on the mainland) and supporting communitarian restaurants in both locations through capacity-building.  The May Brigade project report will be uploaded upon completion, so please stay tuned!

Photos by Kate Edgar.


Bakker, Marshall SO
Bakker, Nick JR
Block, Katie JR
Breuker, Michaelia FR
Brunink, Brittany JR
Ferwerda, Janine SR
Harpst, Anna SO
Hazekamp, Ben SO
Petrini, Audrey JR
Reid, Brendhain SO
Robb, David JR
Selvices, Kristin FR
VandenAkker, Kim JR
Grandia, Rachelle JR

Chapter Founders Present at National Conference

Posted in Uncategorized by Ashley Luse on June 9, 2010

In March, two of our chapter founders (Brendan Snyder and Ashley Luse) were invited by the College to present at the 2010 Annual NASPA Conference for higher-ed student life professionals. The Calvin GBB story aligned well with the theme of this year’s Conference – ‘Live the Legacy; Be the Movement.”

Calvin GBB Press Coverage

Posted in Uncategorized by Ashley Luse on December 28, 2009

Cheers to the January 2010 Brigade Team!

Posted in Uncategorized by Ashley Luse on December 12, 2009

Nick Bakker (JR)

Bethany Beachum (JR)

Trevor Deters (SR)

Andrew Koster (SR)

Ashley Luse (SR)

Justin Newhuis (SR)

Brianna Perez (JR)

Sarah Plaisier (SR)

David Robb (JR)

Brendan Snyder (SR)

Shawn Tindall (JR)

Joel Venderveen (JR)

Taylor Vanderveen (FR)

If you would like to support our January Brigade Trip, please visit our fund raising web page:

Please help Global Brigades win $25,000 by voting!!!

Posted in Uncategorized by Ashley Luse on November 23, 2009

GBB Leadership Interview in Calvin College News & Stories!

Posted in Uncategorized by Ashley Luse on October 28, 2009

“Baking and business in Panama”

Click Here to Read Article!!

May 2009 Project Report

Posted in May 2009 by Brendan Snyder on July 28, 2009

GBB Calvin Project Report

Our project report is finally complete. It explains what we did, how we did it, and what we hope will happen with our friends and their bakery on Isla Tigre. CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE to open the report, and let us know what you think!

If you want to learn more about GBB at Calvin, stop by our table at Cokes and Clubs on Knollcrest Lawn at Calvin on September 8.  There will be a sign-up sheet so we can keep you posted on the latest news.  If you know that you are interested in traveling on our upcoming brigade in January, click on January 2010 to the right of the post, and let us know during which week you would prefer to  travel. Keep checking back for updates about our upcoming meetings and kick-off events.


Announcing May 2009 Brigade Team

Posted in May 2009 by Ashley Luse on April 18, 2009

Trip Dates: May 24-May 31, 2009

Project Site: Kuna Yala and Panama City, Panama

Blessings of Success and Safe Travel to our May Brigade Team:

  • Nick Bakker
  • Steven Brink
  • Brandyn Deckinga
  • Ryan Deters
  • Trevor Deters
  • Andrew Koster
  • Ashley Luse
  • Justin Newhuis
  • David Robb
  • Brendan Snyder
  • Shawn Tindall

May 2009 Brigade Project Proposals

Posted in May 2009 by Brendan Snyder on March 1, 2009

May 2009 Brigade Project Proposals

The indigenous community of the Kuna Yala Islands (also known as San Blas)

Project 1: Soda Business on the Community Dock
As an indigenous group, the Kuna share everything. Everything belongs to the community and is common welfare. The governing system is set up so that the income that comes from each important “institution” (school, museum, dock, etc.) is used to maintain the functioning of the entire system. The “institution” with the largest business potential and where revenue is the highest is the dock store, where rich people with yachts stop by constantly to buy sodas and other supplies. There is also a lot of tourist traffic on the dock.

The Kona Dock Store was previously receiving an average of about $1000 a month for soda sales. Recently, however, the store’s fridge wrecked and the store has been losing a lot of business. Their sales have dropped by about $300-$500 a month. The issue is that the “dock institution” was the one that generated the most income for the community. Now the entire system of institutions is dealing with the consequences.

The solution: First, GBB Calvin would provide the “Community Investment Fund” needed to buy the fridge. At the same time, we would be working with the community leaders to empower them with business tools that can guarantee their success on this project. The goal will be to help them generate more income through the deck and consequently into the “system” benefiting the whole community through their “institutions.” We could also help the community by brainstorming other ideas of things to sell in the store so that they can generate more income.

Project 2: Hammock Business
For this project we would be working with one of the 3 Communitarian Museums in Kuna Yala. For years now, there has been a tradition for the artisan women to teach younger generations how to sew and make conventional hammocks by holding workshops in this museum. To the Kuna people, their hammocks are very symbolic and represent part of their culture. Hammocks are used as cribs for babies and as beds (they don’t use mattresses). There is even a tradition of incorporating them into wedding ceremonies by having the couple lay in a hammock (an interesting ritual). Finally, the Kuna bury their loved ones in hammocks.

The problem being faced is that hammocks that are started are rarely finished because the artisans run out of materials and funds. This issue has been forcing the Kuna to buy Colombian hammocks, which are cheaper and require less work than making them. It is a bit ironic that something so traditional and culturally beautiful is being affected by a monetary factor.

The solution: If GBB Calvin were to adopt this project, we would be providing the CIF and business tools necessary to help the Kuna build up a hammock business that can run successfully and produce lots of hammocks in a sustainable way. The artisan teachers could then actually have their students finish and sell their hammocks. These people would need help from GBB Calvin because they have no previous knowledge on how to run a “hammock business” or a museum (where the workshops are currently being held). Our group would teach them how to run their business and help them learn how to market their product to other Kuna as well as to foreigners who stop by the dock. This way, more revenue will come in through the “Museum institution” and will benefit the Communitarian system and consequently every other institution.

Save the Date: Global Business Brigades Information Session!

Posted in Information,May 2009,Upcoming Brigades by Brendan Snyder on January 29, 2009

Save the Date:
Global Business Brigades Information Session!

Thursday, January 12, 2009
3:30 PM, Commons Lecture Hall

Are you passionate about global awareness and building a broader picture of the world around us? Looking for an abroad experience in economic development?

Please come to Commons Lecture Hall on the 12th to learn about Calvin’s new GBB Chapter and about how you can join us on a 7-day Business Brigade to Panama this May! This is a unique opportunity for anyone who is interested in business, international development, finance, or just experiencing Central America first-hand. We especially need Spanish-speaking students on the brigade; however, everyone (even with no Spanish or business experience) is encouraged to apply.

If you are interested but cannot make the information session, please contact Ashley Luse at, and keep checking the website to stay informed about upcoming events.

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