Students gathered in a board room at Norwich Free Academy Monday afternoon for a business meeting that was months in the making.
Members of NFA's Future Business Leaders of America club presented their business development ideas to a Panama-based entrepreneur.
"I really hope his business gets big one day," said George Hanna, one of the students involved in the year-long project.
NFA partnered with non-profit Squads Abroad. The non-profit connected the students with Fermin Campos, a small business owner in Panama.
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Campos opened a fruit and vegetable delivery business, "2s Hermanas," last year in a remote and under-resourced area of the country.
Working alongside mentors in Panama, NFA students developed a business plan for Campos and came up with marketing strategies to help his business grow.
"We learned how to conduct business in a totally different area than where we are," Hanna said. "We had to think outside the box for him."
Linda Farinha, a business educator at NFA, led the group and said it didn't take long for everyone to become invested in the project. They met after school for months before their final presentation to Campos.
"They would find me in the hall and say, 'I just googled Panama - do you know how far he travels?'" Farinha said. "The business model isn't one that is [going] to get bigger and bigger and make more and more money. It's, 'What can I do to provide for my family' - and I think the kids are really going to make that happen."
The students created fliers, business cards and thank you cards for Campos's customers. They included a QR code on the cards with his contact information. They also made him t-shirts with his business logo on them.
NFA mailed the box of materials to Campos so that he can use them for his business.
Campos said that he has dreamed of being a business owner for a long time and said he was very impressed with the NFA students and all of the work they did.
"I really hope Fermin gets something out of it. As much as we got out of it," Hanna said.
This is the first year NFA has partnered with Squads Abroad.