The majority of the women we serve at Friendship Bridge look like this: A 37-year-old Mayan woman with four children whose household earns between $1.11 and $4.16 a day. On average she has only 3.4 years of formal education, cannot read or write, and is unlikely to speak Spanish, the official language of Guatemala. All of this adds up to an inability to secure a loan that might better her situation. And that’s where Friendship Bridge comes in. We provide microcredit in Guatemala.
Our Group Lending Model
To borrow through Friendship Bridge’s Microcredit Plus program, women must first form groups of 7-25 members called Trust Banks. Each Trust Bank co-guarantees individual member’s loans and the women participate in Non-Formal Education sessions that are part of every monthly repayment meeting.
Trust Banks are an integral part of the Microcredit Plus program. This group lending model creates an empowering environment through the women’s support and encouragement of each other. In other words, they receive social capital in addition to the financial capital they receive through loans.
Each Trust Bank elects an executive committee that includes a president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary. This elected group is responsible for the management and leadership of the group. They problem-solve when there are attendance or repayment issues with individual members, they work with the Facilitator (loan officer) to conduct effective meetings, and they handle banking (making deposits into and withdrawals out of their account) on behalf of the group.