Empower women. Eliminate poverty.

Category : Blog

Friendship Bridge attends inaugural Giving List Women Summit

Event focuses on supporting women and girls’ causes around the world

President & CEO Tracie Cordeiro and former Communications & Public Relations Specialist Marta Julia Ixtuc Cuc attend The Giving List Women Summit 2024 in Montecito, California.

President & CEO Tracie Cordeiro and former Communications & Public Relations Specialist Marta Julia Ixtuc Cuc attend The Giving List Women Summit 2024 in Montecito, CA.

In April, Friendship Bridge was honored to attend The Giving List Women Summit in Montecito, California, an event which highlighted the critical need to direct more philanthropic dollars toward organizations supporting women and girls. According to a recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, less than 2% of all philanthropic funds are allocated to such causes. The Giving List Women seeks to help change this statistic by connecting people who wish to invest in such causes with organizations that support women and girls.

In addition, Friendship Bridge was honored to be among the 48 nonprofits featured in the Giving List Women book, nominated by our partner, Linked Foundation, that invests in social enterprises dedicated to improving the health of communities in Latin America and the U.S.

“It was a tremendous privilege to participate in the summit alongside others who champion equity, compassion, and justice for all,” said Friendship Bridge President & CEO Tracie Cordeiro, who participated in a panel discussion at the event. “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the entire team behind The Giving List. We recognize the dedication and hard work that undoubtedly went into organizing such an exceptional event.”

In the following Q & A with Tracie, learn more about the content of her panel discussion at the summit and gain greater insight into why investment in women and girls is so important to her.

The stage of The Giving List Women Summit

The Giving List Women Summit was held in April to highlight the critical need to direct more philanthropic dollars toward organizations supporting women and girls.

Tracie, what was your panel discussion about at the GLW Summit?

Tracie Cordeiro: One of the key highlights of the summit was my participation in a panel discussion titled “Partnerships Reimagined: Beyond Philanthropy.” This insightful discussion was moderated by Stacey Keare, the Board Chair of Women Moving Millions. I had the privilege of sharing the stage with Nancy Swanson, Executive Director of Linked Foundation, along with representatives from two other notable nonprofits.

During our panel, we delved into the dynamics of true partnerships and how they are crucial in developing and sustaining effective programs. Our decade-long partnership with Linked Foundation has been a success based on our mission alignment and  working together towards the same “North Star”. Linked Foundation, which has been instrumental in the establishment of our Health for Life program in 2015, has approached our partnership with a mutual “learning mindset” rather than a “knowing mindset”. This has enabled us to maintain flexibility as we learn and adapt together. This approach allows us to respond more effectively to the needs of the communities we serve and to innovate continuously based on on-the-ground feedback and experiences.

A Guatemalan healthcare provider conducts a health screening for a woman.

At the summit, Friendship Bridge discussed its Health for Life program, which launched in 2015 to provide preventive health screenings to its clients. The progam was made possible thanks to a partnership with Linked Foundation.

Another significant theme of our discussion was the concept of blended capital— an approach of combining capital seeking market-rate returns with risk-tolerant capital or patient capital to create positive social impact. We also explored how a combination of grants and investments is essential for the success of our programs. Grants are vital for supporting and expanding our education and preventive health services, while investments help ensure the long-term sustainability of our organization by providing sufficient funding to maintain and expand our microcredit services.

This blended capital approach has been instrumental in the success of our Health for Life program. By integrating preventive health care services into our offerings, we can address health complications that often limit women’s potential, thereby enabling them to build better futures for themselves and their families.

For more information about being a potential social impact investor in Friendship Bridge, please contact Amy Kuark, Treasurer, at akuark@friendshipbridge.org.

Why is it important to invest in women and girls non-profit organizations?

TC: Despite significant advancements in various sectors, less than 2% of all philanthropic dollars are directed towards organizations that specifically support women and girls. This statistic is both alarming and indicative of a missed opportunity to drive substantial social and economic change. Here are several key reasons why focusing philanthropic investments on women and girls is imperative:

  1. Multiplier Effect on Communities: When women are empowered, entire communities benefit. Women are more likely to reinvest their income in their families and communities, improving education, health, and economic outcomes for everyone. This multiplier effect means that an investment in women and girls generates broader societal gains.
  2. Addressing Systemic Inequities: Women and girls often face unique and systemic barriers to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. By supporting organizations that address these inequities, we can create a more just and equitable society. Investing in women and girls helps to dismantle the structures that perpetuate gender inequality and ensures that everyone has a fair chance to succeed.
  3. Improving Health Outcomes: Women’s health is a cornerstone of community well-being. Organizations that focus on women’s health, particularly in underserved areas, provide critical services that prevent health complications, improve maternal and child health, and enhance overall quality of life. Programs like our Health for Life initiative offer preventive health care in indigenous languages, which is vital for reaching and effectively serving rural populations.
  4. Economic Empowerment: Supporting women and girls economically not only lifts them out of poverty, but also drives economic growth. Women entrepreneurs create jobs, stimulate local economies, and contribute to sustainable development. By investing in organizations that provide financial education, microloans, and business training, we empower women to build prosperous futures for themselves and their communities.

It is our supporters’ steadfast generosity of all kinds that allows us to empower women in rural Guatemala through financial inclusion, preventive health care, and educational initiatives. Thanks to the exposure from The Giving List Women Summit and book, we’re excited and hopeful to connect with new supporters who are passionate about our work. Together, we are creating lasting change and building a brighter future for all.

The Giving List Women book stands on a shelf with Guatemalan textiles.

The Giving List Women book features Friendship Bridge alongside 48 other organizations that support women and girls.

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Achievements of 2023

Dear Friendship Bridge Family,

2023 was a great year full of new achievements for Friendship Bridge, development for our clients, progress for our staff, and good news about our many programs designed to empower Guatemalan women and eliminate poverty.

As I reflect on my inaugural year as President & CEO, I am deeply moved by the dedication and hard work exhibited by both our staff and our clients. This was a year of significant transition in organizational leadership, coupled with challenges surrounding the presidential election in Guatemala. Your unwavering commitment to Friendship Bridge amidst these changes is truly commendable and does not go unnoticed. I am also filled with gratitude that, with the collective effort of everyone involved, we were able to serve nearly 35,000 women in 2023. Thank you all for your outstanding contributions!

As we plan for the year ahead in 2024, there are still more milestones to reach, but we are staying well-aligned with the goals outlined in our 2021–2025 Strategic Plan, Impact2. Continue reading to discover the multitude of accomplishments that your support has contributed to!

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2023 Women’s Entrepreneur Awards

Friendship Bridge. Women's Entrepreneur Awards: Recognizing Trailblazers and Changemakers

For the third consecutive year, the Women’s Entrepreneur Awards ceremony was streamed online in Spanish on Facebook Live for Bridge to Success clients and potential clients. 195 participants entered (an increase of 9% compared to 2022), and nine women received an award of one of the three categories: Successful Entrepreneur, Exemplary Client, and Outstanding Woman.

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Teresa’s Recipe for Success

Teresa's Recipe for Success

For Teresa, the business training and advice she has received through the Bridge to Success program has been a gift that keeps on giving—it has helped her earn more income and grow her customer base at her bakery, Pasterlería Teresita. Teresa’s transformation from watching online videos to mastering the art of baking in a class taken while in our Bridge to Success program highlights the real difference between self-taught skills and professional training. This shift in her learning approach significantly enhanced the quality of her offerings, making her cakes a favorite in her community.

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Friendship Bridge a Top Performer in 2023 Microfinance Index

Microfinance clients rank Friendship Bridge high for access, business impact, client protection, and resilience in Latin America

Friendship Bridge and 60 Decibels. 2023 Top Impact Award.

As a microfinance institution (MFI), we don’t just distribute small loans to impoverished people—we pride ourselves in building strong relationships with our clients, so they can in turn increase their resilience, grow their businesses, create generational change, and experience greater empowerment.

But how well are we achieving these goals, compared to other MFIs? 60 Decibels’ Microfinance Index strives to answer this in its newly released 2023 report. Continue Reading →

Friendship Bridge clients experience intergenerational change

60 Decibels’ report reveals positive trends toward next-generation impact among Friendship Bridge clients

One of the reasons we support women in Guatemala is because we have a vested interest in creating intergenerational change among impoverished families, as reflected in our Theory of Change. When our clients have the financial resources to keep their children in school, it can change the trajectory of their futures.
“We care deeply about breaking the cycle of generational poverty, and we have so many stories of clients who have experienced intergenerational impact because of Friendship Bridge,” said Caitlin Scott, Chief Strategy Officer at Friendship Bridge. “But we wanted more concrete evidence to show this.”
As a result, Friendship Bridge commissioned the global impact measurement company,  60 Decibels, to measure how our clients are experiencing change. Here’s what their research discovered. Continue Reading →

2023 Microfinance Index gives Friendship Bridge top recognition for client impact

Friendship Bridge ranks as #2 MFI in Latin America

An important part of measuring the social impact we have in Guatemalan women’s lives comes from partnering with 60 Decibels—a global impact measurement company that is the producer of the world’s first microfinance impact benchmark. Based on phone interviews with 277 of our clients conducted this year, 60 Decibels’ trained researchers have compiled insights about our clients, the outcomes they experience, how satisfied they are, and how we can improve our impact and business performance.

The 2023 Microfinance Index Insights Report reveals that Friendship Bridge received a Top Impact Award for Latin America, ranking #2 in Latin America among all microfinance organizations surveyed in the region.  

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Friendship Bridge Opens a New Branch Office in Chicacao

On July 14, 2023, we celebrated the opening of our newest branch office in Chicacao, Guatemala. One of the opening ceremony’s impactful moments came when our client, Elena, told her story of involvement with Friendship Bridge. She started her journey as a Trust Bank member, entered our Bridge to Success program as an Entrepreneur, and later won 1st place in the Successful Entrepreneur category at the 2022 Women’s Entrepreneur Awards. Elena shared how Friendship Bridge has helped her on her path to development and empowerment. 

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In Memory of Anita Bunch: Friend of Friendship Bridge

So many of our supporters have wonderful memories of Anita Bunch (1940-2023) and her ongoing commitment to Friendship Bridge. Following are personal recollections from our colleague, Nancy Hiester.

I met Anita in the year 2000 as I embarked upon my career with Friendship Bridge. She was a bit nervous about me since I was brand new. Within a few minutes of interaction, we became kindred spirits, close colleagues, friends, spiritual pals, and partners for life helping Friendship Bridge succeed in all endeavors. Anita’s smile always lit up the room and reflected compassion, grace, humor, and spice.

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Friendship Bridge Honored for International Women’s Day 2023

WorldDenver recognizes Friendship Bridge as the 2023 Organizational Honoree

On March 8, 2023, Friendship Bridge was honored by WorldDenver at their International Women’s Day event, held at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, for our work that empowers women in Guatemala. We were introduced in a video message by Denver Congresswoman Diana DeGette. Accepting the award on Friendship Bridge’s behalf was Marta Julia Ixtuc Cuc, Communications and Public Relations Specialist, who traveled from Guatemala for the event, and Board of Directors Vice Chair Susan Zimmermann.

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How The Women of Friendship Bridge Embrace Equity

International Women’s Day:

Handmade by Friendship Bridge® employees and clients embrace equity in a gender unequal country

Travel to any of Guatemala’s larger cities such as Quetzaltenango, Antigua, or Guatemala City, and you’ll find opportunities for women in education, careers, and as decision makers in society. But Guatemala’s rural communities still tend to function under traditional patriarchal systems where women have less of a voice. According to the UN Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), violence, in various forms, continues to impact the population, with women, girls and adolescents disproportionately affected. Cases of femicide and missing women have increased. In addition, Guatemala ranks 113th out of 146 countries in gender equality, according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2022, making it the most gender unequal country in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This is where Friendship Bridge comes in, with the goal of empowering more women and eliminating poverty across all areas of Guatemala. 89% of the women we serve come from rural communities. The following women work with Handmade by Friendship Bridge®—two as employees and two as artisans the organization serves. This year for International Women’s Day, learn what they’ve overcome and how they are working to #EmbraceEquity in different ways.

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2022 Achievements

Dear friends,

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.

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