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.
Entertainment included students from the Marimba dance group at a local high school, Instituto Mixto de Educación Básica por Cooperativa – IMEBAC, who showcased traditional dance routines. Fifteen clients attended the event and were given the gift of kitchen pot and pan sets; other sets were raffled off during the event. “[This was] a way to celebrate them as clients, and recognize their time and effort made in order to [join] us,” says Guatemalan Marketing Coordinator Nohelia Guarchaj.
In line with our commitment to environmentally friendly practices, the ceremony was free of single-use materials such as balloons, plastic decorations, and cups. Guarchaj worked with an artisan to create decorations made from corn husks, flowers, and other natural and reusable materials.
Ingrid Jannet Guir Piedrasanta will serve as branch leader alongside sixteen collaborators in the Chicacao office. She comes to the new office after working as the branch leader in Mazatenango. Ingrid’s move provided an opportunity for another employee, Dina Sicá, to be promoted at her former location.
The Chicacao branch opened with a portfolio of 2,158 clients, with a goal of acquiring 3,005 clients by the end of the year. The expansion, which gives Friendship Bridge a total of 12 branch offices, continues our commitment to Responsible Growth, one of the main goals in our Strategic Plan. Chicacao was chosen as the best place to expand after conducting detailed research based on the following factors:
- The level of targeted growth of clients who do not have access to formal bank credit
- The level of entrepreneurship in the area
- Migration conditions and local development
“The opportunity was seen to bring the operation closer to areas of high potential in the region,” notes Guarchaj. “Additionally, [we will be] able to cover a larger potential market, with the certainty that our target market is located in that region.”