Empower women. Eliminate poverty.

Our Mission and Our History

Empower Women. Eliminate Poverty.

Friendship Bridge is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit social enterprise with a mission to create opportunities that empower Guatemalan women to build a better life. Established in 1990 and headquartered in Lakewood, Colorado, Friendship Bridge operates 10 branch offices in Guatemala and provides a suite of products and services including microcredit, Non-Formal Education, and access to culturally-appropriate healthcare. Clients are 100% women, primarily indigenous Maya, and live in rural communities with some of the highest poverty levels worldwide. Annually, Friendship Bridge supports 30,000 women and through our programming, we are changing how clients see, respond to, and overcome the protracted issues of poverty for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Our Mission

Creating opportunities that empower Guatemalan women to build a better life.

Our Vision

Empowered women choosing their own path.

Our History

Friendship Bridge’s history began with its work in Vietnam providing medical education and shipping medical supplies to impoverished populations in war-ravaged areas. While medical supplies were positively impacting the lives of recipients, Friendship Bridge was looking for a more sustainable solution to poverty reduction — the solution was microcredit. In 1994, we shifted our focus from medical supplies to microcredit and began offering small loans to impoverished women. Our clients, indigenous women who were deemed ‘unbankable,’ started or expanded small businesses and began creating their own sustainable solutions to poverty.

In 1998, Friendship Bridge expanded its work to Guatemala, another war-ravaged country suffering extreme poverty and offering limited opportunities to women. Friendship Bridge shifted out of Vietnam as operations in Vietnam became unsustainable due to an unfavorable political climate. Focusing solely on Guatemala, and aided by investment from American donors, the seeds of the Microcredit Plus program we know today were planted. By 2003, almost 3,000 clients were borrowing from Friendship Bridge. By 2006 the number tripled to 9,000 clients, and today we reach more than 22,000 women through our Microcredit Plus program.

Since 2012, our Social Performance Management team ensures that through all these endeavors, we stay true to our mission. Learn more.

Our Core Values

  • Empowerment
  • Respect
  • Solidarity
  • Participation
  • Quality
  • Integrity
  • Transparency

Our 2021-2025 Institutional Goals

Our 2021-25 Strategic Plan (English / Spanish) reflects our commitment to continue building trusting relationships with our clients and employees, provide suitable products and services, and execute operational excellence. As a result, our clients will experience a combination of increased resilience, improved empowerment, and accelerated business development. Our strategy will have a multiplier effect by effectively serving two distinct client segments and doubling our revenue and operations by 2025, thus exponentially impacting an even greater number of Guatemalan women, families, and their communities.

View Strategic Plan (English) View Strategic Plan (Spanish)