Empower women. Eliminate poverty.


Friendship Bridge Development Director Participates in ‘Reconceptualizing Development’ Panel

Friendship Bridge Development Director Participates in ‘Reconceptualizing Development’ Panel

by Jeanne Crump, Social Performance Intern

Friendship Bridge was honored to participate in a March 31st panel at the Posner Center for International Development’s Global Poverty Post-2015: Reconceptualizing Development. Sponsored by IDEX Young Professionals Group of Denver, the panel’s goal was to discuss what we can — and are continuing to do — to alleviate poverty worldwide in a post-Millenium Development Goal (MDG) era.

Michael Allen, Friendship Bridge’s Development Director, spoke on our targeted strategies of using microcredit and education to reduce poverty among the 23,000 Guatemalan women and families we work with daily. When asked which MDG we aligned with most, Michael said number three: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. He described how our Microcredit Plus model incorporates not only access to credit, but culturally sensitive and highly effective education programs that empower women through business development and entrepreneurial skills training.

Michael continued, explaining that through Friendship Bridge services, our goal is to see empowered women eliminate poverty. By empowering women and providing tools for economic improvement, we have also worked to achieve other MDGs, such as number two: Achieving Universal Primary Education. Our CrediEscolar loans are specifically available to women who may need assistance paying for their children’s school fees and uniforms. Data has shown our loans have made it possible for children to remain in school longer. In many cases, girls are taken out of school first if families need an extra work hand. If our clients’ incomes remains stable, all children will receive primary education, and hopefully continue to secondary and tertiary levels.

In a concluding question, the panelists were asked what they thought the international development community could be doing to improve its poverty alleviation impact. Michael pointed to Friendship Bridge’s hyper local focus — a very decentralized approach — of improving lives. He described our new Mobile Health Services program that will provide indigenous, rural Mayan women vital and preventative services where there previously were none. He urged the development community to 1) rethink traditional approaches and boundary lines, and 2) foster collaboration to offer more comprehensive and actionable solutions.

The Posner Center is a collaborative and highly productive space, housing over 60 development-oriented businesses and organizations under one roof. The Posner Center’s goal is to “spur innovation by enabling groups to cross-pollinate through the exchange of ideas, the overlap of programming, and the generation of more comprehensive and lasting solutions to global poverty.

Other panelists included Steve Voyen from Children’s HopeChest, Gwen Vogel from SalusWorld, and Rhiannan Price from aWhere. Each brought insightful and diverse views from the development community. Here’s to a world in which we’re all working to achieve the same goals.