Today is Colorado Gives Day, the state’s largest online community giving movement, uniting all Coloradans in a common goal to strengthen the state’s nonprofits by giving to their favorite charities online. You have 3,000 Colorado nonprofits to choose from this year. Why choose Friendship Bridge?
Over the past 18 months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Friendship Bridge has made major adjustments to our regular operations in order to continue reaching our clients in poor, rural areas of Guatemala. Our staff innovated and created solutions quickly to provide financial and emotional support, as well as connect each client with remote education and health resources. We invested in new technology to support the need to communicate with clients from afar and create a more efficient way to do business.
In celebration of Colorado Gives Day, we’re hosting “7 Days of Innovation” to illustrate the various ways we’ve utilized innovative transformational change to connect with our clients, support their businesses, provide access to health services, and provide opportunities to build a better life.
7 Days of Innovation
1. CALL CENTER
Friendship Bridge launched a Call Center in July 2021 to allow our clients to immediately connect with the right person to get the information they need. Clients now have easy access to Friendship Bridge during business hours, throughout Guatemala, with services offered in Spanish and the Mayan languages of K’iche’, Kakchikel, Tzutujil, and Mam. This new service differentiates Friendship Bridge from other organizations in Guatemala.
2. MASSIVE DATA UPDATES
With 23,000 clients on our roster, managing and updating their information is imperative. Our semi-annual data updates will improve our client communications and give us the opportunity to collect key information so that we can make better strategic decisions. This was recently exemplified by a survey we administered this fall asking clients about the COVID-19 vaccine. We wanted to better understand our clients’ reasons as to why they were not getting the vaccine and how we could help them make a better-informed decision. This research also allowed us to know which of our clients were fully vaccinated. As an incentive to participate, we are holding a raffle with our clients, in which the winners received gifts, like electric stoves and umbrellas.
3. AGRICULTURE TECHNOLOGY
Did you know Friendship Bridge implemented new, easy-to-install irrigation systems to support our agriculture clients with improving their crop production? Watch our video to learn about the innovative agricultural initiatives we implemented this year.
- Ferti-Drip Irrigation System
- Insect Color Traps
- Agriculture Training with Tablets
4. COVID EDUCATION
Guatemala’s COVID-19 vaccination education/access plan continues to be delivered by the government in Spanish throughout the country, despite the fact that nearly half of the country’s population is indigenous and often does not understand Spanish. This inevitably results in rumors and other misinformation about the virus, which in turn exacerbates vaccine hesitancy. Committed to informing our clients about the health benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine, we launched an education campaign to promote this message. In their monthly Trust Bank meetings, clients received informational pamphlets and education by their loan officer on the COVID-19 vaccine in their Mayan language. Several of our staff’s children participated in making a short video that aims to encourage clients and their families to get vaccinated.
Examples of messages from the children:
- “The coronavirus is small but real… it can do a lot of harm.”
- “Go get the vaccine! I need you to be healthy and strong!”
- “I already got my vaccine [against measles], and I wasn’t afraid.”
- “Take care of yourself so you can take care of me!”
- “The vaccine is free.”
- “Friendship Bridge helps you sign up.”
5. BLENDED LEARNING METHODOLOGY
The onset of the pandemic and the corresponding reduction in in-person services due to safety and prevention measures forced us to quickly rethink many things, including how we were delivering our Non-Formal Education (NFE) to our clients. Our Puente de Aprendizaje (Learning Bridge) pilot, which complements our in-person NFE lessons, illustrates this adaptation. This is an online learning platform containing a virtual library of content, accessible at any time and featuring exercises that allow clients to apply the knowledge learned while helping clients to bridge the digital divide. The virtual component of this program allows Friendship Bridge to scale education initiatives for all clients, reinforce key takeaways from lessons, and encourage our clients to continue using their smartphones as beneficial tools.
6. ADVANCED TRAININGS
Through our Advanced Business Training program, our clients learn technical or advanced business skills to help improve or diversify their income. Trainings on various topics are available, including how to make cake, pizza, ice cream, piñatas, flower arrangements, balloon decor, and more. With the onset of the pandemic, the standard in-person workshop format of these trainings had to be adapted: between October 2020 and April 2021, four Advanced Trainings were delivered virtually. Clients watched instructional videos on Facebook, participated in weekly Zoom classes in which they could ask clarifying questions, and received additional support and guidance from Friendship Bridge via WhatsApp communication. Fortunately, clients had received training previously from Friendship Bridge on how to use various technologies, including Facebook, WhatsApp, and Google; this facilitated the transition to the virtual format.
7. KITS FOR CLIENTS WHO LOST BUSINESSES
With many clients inevitably losing their business as a result of the pandemic, Friendship Bridge knew that additional support tailored to clients’ needs would be indispensable. That is why we conducted research across all Friendship Bridge branches to identify all clients who had either lost their business or had to significantly change their business model in response to the COVID-19 crisis, i.e. shift from selling artisan products to selling food. The insights we acquired from the research prompted us to act:
- We created client kits with manuals on business development for the following businesses: convenience store, grocery store, food business, fruits and vegetable business.
- We provided clients with the option to receive additional business assistance via phone.
- Our initial goal of assisting 3,000 clients between the months of May and June of 2021 was significantly surpassed: more than 6,140 clients benefited from these tools. The Non-Formal Education sessions we delivered during those months aligned with this trend of business transformation, featuring topics such as business continuity and new business ideas.
We hope these stories inspire you to GIVE WHERE YOU LIVE! Your donation is always important, however, this year your gift will MORE than double with the help of two separate incentives:
- The $1 Million Incentive Fund: A pool of dollars that increases the value of every donation made through ColoradoGives.org on Colorado Gives Day. Every donation is boosted by the incentive fund!
- $35,000 Match: A generous group of Friendship Bridge donors will match all donations received on Colorado Gives day, up to $35,000!
Please donate now.