It is my great pleasure to share with you Friendship Bridge’s outstanding results of 2022. Across our organization, there were many achievements, overachievements, and surprises. I am filled with pride as we review 2022, my final days with Friendship Bridge and my last message to all of you. You should also be very proud of the critical role you played in empowering the 33,895 clients who were served by Friendship Bridge throughout the year.
With the conclusion of 2022, and as Friendship Bridge begins to focus on our work for 2023, we have completed the second year of our strategic plan, Impact2, and we are on target to meet our plan objectives. It’s an exciting plan with much more to accomplish over the next 3 years, to continue creating opportunities that empower Guatemalan women to build a better life.
- Ended the year with 25,148 clients in the portfolio while serving 33,895 during the year.
- Reached $13 million in the loan portfolio, a 25% increase over 2021 and the largest portfolio in the history of Friendship Bridge.
- Portfolio quality results continued to be best in class in the country and industry-wide, achieving full year write-offs of less than one half of one percent – a new record for Friendship Bridge!
- Expanded our geographic coverage to the Alta Verapaz department by opening up a new branch in Cobán. Friendship Bridge now has 11 branches and 2 satellite offices across 13 departments within Guatemala.
- The Client Advisory Committee, consisting of 162 clients across 10 branches, met three times during the year and provided valuable feedback on our programs and marketing tools. They were provided new skills with special training aimed at these leaders.
- Our call center made 16 thousand effective outbound calls to collect feedback and maintain relationships with clients in Spanish as well as 3 Mayan languages: K’iche, Kaqchikel, and Mam. 100% of 244 client complaint cases received were closed successfully within an average of 7 days.
Staff + Team
- Certified as a Great Place to Work® and #1 Best Place to Work® for Women in Central America and the Caribbean 2022-2023.
- Continued our commitment to gender equality with 55% of internal promotions going to women.
- Women made up 54% of management positions and 57% of all staff positions across the organization.
- Friendship Bridge values employees’ continuing education by offering a tuition reimbursement program; 38 employees took advantage of this benefit, with two employees achieving their bachelor’s degree.
- Friendship University, our internal training program, offered 24,516 total hours of training with 143 training topics, including classroom and virtual training.
- Raised $1 million from generous donors to build a best-in-class corporate university that will be called UAmistad, to both train employees and recruit young adults in the rural areas where Friendship Bridge works.
- Earned a 4-star rating, the highest rating possible, on Charity Navigator for our third consecutive year.
- Earned Candid’s (formerly Guidestar’s) Platinum Transparency 2022 award.
- 60 Decibels published the first Microfinance Benchmark for social impact, and Friendship Bridge was among the top three in Latin America. (View the Report: English / Spanish)
- Cerise SPI, a social performance audit conducted annually, resulted in an outstanding score for 2022 of 82 points, significantly better than the prior year (67 points) and above industry average (69).
- Implemented the Poverty Stoplight, a tool to evaluate clients’ living conditions and their ambitions. This tool confirmed we are reaching our target market of women living in poverty and provided insight as to how clients specifically want to improve their living conditions. This information will support the programs and training we develop over the next few years.
- Raised $1.7 million in new investor funding and loans rolled over to support the growth of the portfolio by 23% in 2022.
- Completed another record-breaking year with our partner Kiva raising $2.9 million.
- $1.8 million was raised in donations, fundraising events, and grants thanks to over 800 supporters.
- Friendship Bridge Circles raised nearly $200 thousand, and our Board of Directors helped raise over $300 thousand with their participation in various campaigns throughout the year.
- Guests came together for the first in-person Building Bridges Gala in 7 years and the event raised $240 thousand.
- Implemented commercial campaigns throughout the year to support brand positioning and product awareness, creating more than 30 video commercials and client testimonials in Spanish, K’iche, Kaqchikel, and Q’eqchi’ Mayan languages. (Watch a Guatemalan Bridge to Success commercial here)
- Improved brand awareness by highlighting our Microcredit Plus services, including clients’ success stories, through appearances in 96 magazine and web articles, four national radio segments, and five segments on Guatemala’s national TV news. (Watch a Guatemalan Friendship Bridge news segment here)
Women’s Agriculture Credit & Training
- Expanded our Women’s Agriculture Credit & Training program to Huehuetenango.
- 16 field schools were implemented, offering training to 571 clients and three client promoters.
- Rolled out an animal husbandry pilot, supporting an additional 618 clients.
Health for Life
- Expanded our Health for Life program to two more branches for a total of six branches, serving a total of 4,658 clients and 37 complex cases.
- In addition, 35% of our clients in the health program have chosen a family planning method, an outstanding result.
Bridge to Success
- Ended the year with 177 clients participating in the new Bridge to Success program, with a portfolio of over $503 thousand in its first full year of the program.
- Clients with more than 4 months in the program increased their income by 24%, profits by 31%, and number of employees by 29% on average.
- Hosted the second annual Women’s Entrepreneur Awards with 179 women participating – a 220% increase compared to the previous year. Awards were given in three categories: Successful Entrepreneur, Exemplary Client, and Remarkable Woman.
- Hosted the first Networking Event, attended by 74 women entrepreneurs who had the opportunity to connect with each other to generate new business ideas and opportunities.
- In order to strengthen our Non-Formal Education (NFE) program, the B-learning program was implemented in two branches in Nebaj and Huehuetenango.
- Clients have the opportunity to interact with “Doña Chila” through WhatsApp both individually and in their groups, reaching 4,669 clients.
- This program will be expanded using WhatsApp in 2023.
Handmade by Friendship Bridge®
- 43 artisans participated in Handmade by Friendship Bridge®, providing work opportunities to an average of 127 employees.
- Over 16 thousand products were exported and sold across our six online stores for wholesale and retail buyers, reaching sales of over $140 thousand for the year.
- Launched our Master Weavers Collection and celebrated the 15 talented artisans who created it with an Exhibition Opening in Denver, Colorado.
Thank you ALL very much for your hard work and commitment to ensuring Friendship Bridge is a success and our clients and their families have a better life. I will be watching as you continue to grow, build new programs, and empower many, many more women in the years to come.
With much gratitude from me, Tracie, and all of us at Friendship Bridge,