Empowering Impoverished Women
Women are increasingly seen as an important part of the agenda to end world poverty. Indeed, empowering impoverished women is one of the United Nation’s eight Millenium Development Goals defined to galvanize efforts to help the world’s poorest. Belief in this goal drives Friendship Bridge’s mission.
Creating opportunities that empower Guatemalan women to build a better life.
Empowered women choosing their own path.
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.
Our Core Values
Our 2017-2019 Institutional Goals
The 2017-2019 Strategic Plan reflects our commitment to offer opportunities that empower our clients and employees, ensures that we are innovative and client-centric, and emphasizes becoming more efficient and effective in our operations. In this plan, we will continue listening to our clients in order to best support their needs, and we will offer products and services in the most efficient and simple way. The institutional goals are:
- Refine the Client Continuum strategy
- Clients will be at the center of all our decisions and data will be used to monitor and evaluate results
- Our employees are the foundation to achieving our mission and we will invest in a culture of empowerment and skills development
- Simplify all operational activities while maintaining financial sustainability