Empower women. Eliminate poverty.


Leaving no one behind: Sustainable Development Goals

by Dana Bruxvoort de Andres, Jeanne Crump, and Nicole Brajevich

More information about Friendship Bridge’s social performance will be published in October 2015 in their Impact Report.

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Today marks the beginning of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the end of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs have had mixed results – they’ve spurred many successes, but there remains many areas of growth. As the international community reflects on these eight goals and focuses on a new set of (SDGs), Friendship Bridge has also been reflecting – on the ways our work fit into the framework of the MDGs and how we can contribute to the areas of global development that need more growth through the SDGs. Below are the eight MDGs and how our work has supported each.

1.) Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger – The majority of Friendship Bridge clients surveyed have reported their microloan helped them buy more or better food for their family. Clients who access Plus services through our Microcredit Plus program are 4% better off in our poverty index.

2.) Achieve Universal Primary Education – Our CrediEscolar loan provides the funds needed to pay for expenses associated with children’s schooling, thus keeping our clients’ children in school. 26% of clients who accessed this loan had no education themselves, but are now supporting their children’s education.

3.) Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women – Our monthly Non-Formal Education sessions include topics on women’s rights and empowerment. One of our clients said that although women in past generations have been marginalized, “Now I ask for or demand what is mine by my rights and those of my children.” With each loan cycle, clients are 19% more likely to report taking on a leadership role, indicating increased agency.

4.) Reduce Child Mortality – Healthy behavior and family nutrition is a part of our Non-Formal Education curriculum. Our CrediSalud loan helps women purchase clean burning wood stoves, which has proven to reduce children’s health problems related to smoke inhalation and burns.

5.) Improve Maternal Health – A new health services program provides STI screening for pregnant women as well as counseling about and access to family planning methods.

6.) Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases – In 2015 we began piloting a preventative health services program that will give our clients access to testing and follow-up support for HIV/AIDs, cervical cancer, breast cancer, hypertension, and diabetes.

7.) Ensure Environmental Sustainability – We’ve developed a pilot Agriculture Farm to Market Access program to offer more sustainable and efficient production methods to our agriculture clients.

8.) Global Partnership for Development – We partner with local Guatemalan organizations (experts in their fields) to provide services like healthcare, Mentorship, and Advanced Education to our clients.

The MDGs boast remarkable gains – such as halving the number of people living in extreme poverty, drastically reducing child mortality, and halving the number of out-of-school children. But despite these gains, more growth needs to be seen in areas such as gender equality, women’s and children’s health, and access to family planning. These are just a few of the areas that this next set of goals – the Sustainable Development Goals – will focus on. Our work involves many of those areas through the reach of our Microcredit Plus program.

We lend only to women, and we’re advancing gender equality by providing women access to financial services, increasing their agency, and encouraging them to aspire for their futures. Our vision is to see empowered women eliminate poverty. In addition to financial capital, we promote gains of social and human capital through our Microcredit Plus program so women are holistically empowered to create better futures. 90% of our clients report taking on a leadership role in their Trust Banks, families, or communities.

We’re also advancing health and access to family planning through Salud para la Vida, our women’s preventative health program launched in 2015. Salud para la Vida is designed to counter the specific healthcare challenges our rural, indigenous clients in Guatemala face. Through this program our clients receive health education and can access preventative health services such as diabetes and hypertension screenings, breast and cervical exams, Pap smears, and access to family planning methods.

“Leaving no one behind” is the goal for the SDG agenda. As the international community embarks on another 15-year journey toward achieving the 17 SDGs, we’re committed to do our part in making sure no one gets left behind – especially women.