Empower women. Eliminate poverty.

Category : Intern

Turning Promises Into Action: Why Our Work Matters

by Brittaney Lupo

The United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development pledges that no one will be left behind in the realization of human rights for all. Adopted in September 2015 the Agenda is a plan of action that contains 17 Sustainable Development Goals(SDG).  A report released February 14, Turning Promises Into Action: Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, reveals that without urgent action in regards to gender equality that pledge will not be able to be kept and many women will be left behind.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women, spoke to reporters at the launch of the report stating that the progress towards gender equality is moving too slow to achieve the SDGs by 2030. “Even where progress is made, it may not reach the women and girls who need it most and the ones that are being left furthest behind,” she explains.  

The women being left behind include the 330 million that live on less than $1.90 per day, a number that is 4.4 million more than men. Women in developing countries, like Guatemala, are more likely to not have access to clean water, sanitization and durable housing. Access to education is also more limited for with 15 million not ever getting a chance to read or write compared to 10 million boys.

At Friendship Bridge, we are dedicated to stepping up for these women and making sure they are not left behind. Over half of our clients fall into the criteria described above with a daily household income of $1.11 to $2.35, 0 to 2 years of education and living in homes with mud and dirt flooring. Through involvement in our Microcredit Plus program, our clients receive needed loans and education to grow their businesses and improve their incomes with 88% feeling that their incomes have increased or stabilized with 3% rising above the national poverty line. What we do is truly making a difference.

The Turning Promises into Action report shows that we cannot be content with what we are currently doing. It is not enough. We have more women to reach. We have more work to do in order to help achieve the global goal of human rights for all with no one left behind.

In order for us to keep reaching more women we need you. Here is a list of ways we need your help:


Without Firm Action on Gender Equality, Women’s Empowerment, World May Miss Development Targets | Un News


2016 Annual Report | Friendship Bridge


Brittaney Lupo is currently studying Web Design and Development at Brigham Young University-Idaho. Through her course of studies her passion for social media as a means of promoting and raising awareness for websites has grown. Currently she is interning with Friendship Bridge as the Social Media Coordinator in Colorado. When she’s not on social media she is exploring beautiful Colorado with her husband and 3 children.


Living, Learning, and Storytelling in Guatemala

by Anne-Celine Jeffroy-Meynard 

As my first week interning at Friendship Bridge in Guatemala comes to a close, I am very humbled, thankful, and excited for the next eight weeks! Getting to meet women who are the heart and purpose of Friendship Bridge motivates me to lift their voices through storytelling.

Working in Sololá, there is always movement and a friendly face to meet in the office. I am often greeted with a kiss on the cheek and a, “mucho gusto” by employees. Being able to work in such a dynamic and energized office makes the workday go by quickly! I find myself staying past the end of the workday, often without realizing it, because I’ll be editing an interview or chatting with a coworker over tea or coffee.

During my first week in Guatemala, I visited a Trust Bank comprised of seven K’iche women in the Western Highlands. After walking, taking two buses, and one tuk-tuk, we arrived at their village and were welcomed by a group of kids eager to play with our notebooks and devices while practicing their Spanish (the primary language there is K’iche).

Right on time, the Facilitator started the meeting with an ice-breaker. Following this, the Facilitator described how Friendship Bridge’s Microcredit Plus program works and what they can expect during their monthly repayment meetings and Non-Formal Education sessions. Finally, while the Facilitator asked each woman specific questions for monitoring and evaluation purposes, my co-worker and I interviewed the president of the Trust Bank, Santos. Santos is an illiterate, 35-year-old woman with five children who runs her own sewing and weaving business of traditional Maya clothing including huipils (traditional blouses) and fajas (traditional belts).

Before leaving, we all sat down to snack on freshly made horchata (a rice drink) and sweet bread, a delicious and satisfying treat. This was my favorite moment – enjoying an extremely generous meal while talking with the women and the children, laughing and smiling. Soon after, we said our goodbyes and traveled back to Sololá by bus, tuk-tuk, and foot.

This first experience in the field got me very excited about my future work – meeting more incredible women to tell their story. The women I met are self-starters, motivated, and hardworking. I’m sure they will succeed. I am very excited as I embark on this journey with Friendship Bridge, and I know I will continue to grow through more time in the field.

Anne-Celine Jeffroy-Meynard is studying International Studies and Public Affairs with a focus on Public Health at Seattle University. She grew up bi-culturally, half in the San Rafael, CA, half in St. Malo, France. Anne-Celine has previously studied abroad in India, South Africa, and Brazil on a community health program where she did primary research and fieldwork on environmental health. She has also virtually interned with USAID through Virtual Student Foreign Service analyzing their HIV program in Namibia. Currently, she is interning with Friendship Bridge in Sololá, Guatemala where she is acting as a Field Blogger and Storyteller. In the future, she hopes to engage in the field of global health to empower the voices and experiences of those who have been silenced by unequitable healthcare systems.

Reflections on my experience as a Friendship Bridge intern

by Cole Folwell, Treasury Intern summer 2016 IMG_0481

I grew up in the People’s Republic of Boulder and loved the sheltered, inclusive, and safe environment. When choosing colleges I thought that seeing another part of the country would be enlightening and intellectually riveting. For that reason, I chose Northern Indiana and for those who have not been blessed with the opportunity of laying eyes on this beautiful region, I’ll provide some insight. The regions elevation change is about as consistent as its weather forecast. The gloomy clouds, lack of mountains and the invigorating town of South Bend were all great reasons to hit the books extra hard. In general, Indiana is a most modestly impressive state and if it weren’t for Notre Dame (which is pretty much in Michigan), there’s a good chance Mike Pence could have been out of the job. Despite my opinion of the crossroads of America, I had a fantastic first-year at Notre Dame and learned so much. I am looking forward to going back this fall as a more knowledgeable, curious, giving and driven person thanks to a wonderful experience as a Treasury Intern at Friendship Bridge.

Working alongside Treasury Manager, Rebecca Cueto, my experience at Friendship Bridge was predominantly focused on the financial component to the organization’s operation. Whether that was monthly liquidity reports, monitoring currency risk, or analyzing economic data, it all had an impact on the thousands of clients Friendship Bridge serves.

I’ll admit that sometimes it’s easy to forget the actual impact of my work when focused on a spreadsheet containing masses of data. However, every number has a story behind it, importance to it and a purpose going forward. Capital markets have always fascinated me and I find that versus appreciating their ability to move capital to where it is needed, people simply write it off as a useless mechanism, wrought with peril and moral hazard. I cannot completely remove myself from my Boulder beginnings so here is a quote from Karl Marx about capital’s importance: “Capital is money, capital is commodities. By virtue of it being value, it has acquired the occult ability to add value to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or, at the least, lays golden eggs.” Microfinance brings together people and business that are seeking capital with those who have it. After being with Friendship Bridge, I definitely have a greater appreciation for the ability of capital to create positive change in a world that can easily be dismissed as hopeless.

Anyway, I am not usually that deep and down to earth (must be the Boulder in me I tried to kill off) so I’d like to get back to what I did for Friendship Bridge. I worked on several large projects throughout the summer such as a state of Guatemala report, a presentation on Friendship Bridge’s currency exposure and risk management that would be used at a conference in Italy, and an indicators board to help us benchmark our performance against other Microfinance institutions using a platform called ‘Mix Market.’

The state of Guatemala report was a comprehensive summary and analysis of all major political and economic events that had recently transpired in Guatemala. As you have seen already, I have a fairly elaborate and inefficient way of summarizing something that could be said in maybe a sentence or two. This gift of mine helped produce a 23-page report that was downright excessive (I learned a lot though). Fortunately, Rebecca helped me cut down that mountain of information into a very detailed and concise boulder (sincere apologies, I have an endearment for particularly terrible jokes). As my internship progressed I became more efficient in boiling down information into the essentials. An invaluable skill I hope to keep with me well into the future.

Overall, my internship was a positive experience as I learned an extensive amount about the interworking’s of Friendship Bridge’s operation. Some things I did were as simple as updating economic indicators and others as complex as understanding the implications of an increase in remittances on the quetzal and how that might impact Friendship Bridge’s liquidity going forward.

Over the course of my internship I also decided to participate in the weekly Spanish class, which was a humbling experience. However, much of the class was in jest and I managed to pick up some of the language while having fun. I also decided that my self-proclaimed wit was perfect for a morning email updating staff on current U.S., Latin American, and Guatemalan events. Thus, ‘Good Morning Guatemala’ was born and I know for a fact that it made me laugh while providing relevant news (did it make others laugh? Not sure). My experience at Friendship Bridge was rewarding, educational and enjoyable.

Here is a random parting hair-pulling thought from me that Rebecca and I attempted to solve on one of our daily commutes:

“There is a single light-bulb in a windowless room that cannot be observed from the outside. On the outside of the room there are three light switches. You can enter the room only once to observe the light bulb. How do you find out what light switch controls the light-bulb?”

Good Luck. Go Irish. And thank you for the opportunity and experience Friendship Bridge.