Empower women. Eliminate poverty.

Media Center

Journalists are welcome to use Friendship Bridge Media Center material without asking for permission.

Welcome! 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 12 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.

Our MissionOur VisionOur Core ValuesLeadership
Creating opportunities that empower Guatemalan women to build a better life.
Empowered women choosing their own path.
  • Empowerment
  • Respect
  • Solidarity
  • Participation
  • Quality
  • Integrity
  • Transparency
  • Tracie Cordeiro: President & CEO
  • Caitlin Scott: Chief Strategy Officer
  • Nicole Eubanks: Chief Development Officer
  • Roberto Silvestre: Chief Risk & Finance Officer
  • Francisco Meletz: Director of Operations
  • Victor Contreras: Director of Personnel Services

More about our Leadership Team »

Media Contacts

To request an interview with Friendship Bridge staff in the U.S. or Guatemala, contact Lydia Rueger Shoaf, Content & Press Associate: lshoaf@friendshipbridge.org

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 nearly 35,000 women through our Microcredit Plus program.

Why Guatemala?
Guatemalans face high levels of poverty, violence, natural disasters, and corruption, ultimately leading some to migrate from Guatemala. Our work is focused on supporting women-led businesses that increase our clients’ income, so they don’t need to make the difficult choice to migrate. 55% of the total population of Guatemala lives in poverty, and the situation is even more extreme for indigenous people, with a poverty rate that exceeds 79%.
Why women?
Guatemala ranks 113th out of 146 countries in gender equality, making it the most gender unequal country in Latin America, according to the Global Gender Gap Index 2023. When women earn more money, we know that they invest 90% of it back into their families and communities, and that helps make their communities stronger. Many of our clients’ increased income means that their children can stay in school longer, rather than dropping out to work and help support the family, which can create generational change.

Photos

Photo credit: Friendship Bridge

Logos

Press Releases

Microfinance Nonprofit Shows Evidence of Generational Change Among Impoverished Clients – August 24, 2023
Global Textile Exhibit Opens at Kent State University – May 18, 2023
Friendship Bridge Honored by WorldDenver for International Women’s Day – February 17, 2023
Guatemalan Artisans Create Gifts that Give BackOctober 1, 2022
Traveling Guatemalan Textile Exhibit Now on Display at Convivio Café September 29, 2022
Friendship Bridge Ranked as the #1 Best Places to Work® for Women 2022 in Caribbean and Central America – September 27, 2022
Local Nonprofit Sells Guatemalan Artisan Goods to Empower Women EntrepreneursJuly 26, 2022
Colorado Nonprofit Ranks High in World’s First Microfinance Social Performance Index – July 18, 2022
Local Nonprofit Making Strides to Support Women Entrepreneurs in Guatemala for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day – Nov. 19, 2021
The Best Places to Work for Women in Central America and the Caribbean in 2021 – Nov. 12, 2021
Bridge to Success: Backed by $1 million grant from Target Foundation – Aug. 18, 2021