Non-formal education is a critical component of Friendship Bridge’s Microcredit Plus program. While microcredit provides our clients with a hand up for their businesses, education provides them with an asset for life — skills and knowledge to create sustainable change for themselves, their children, and their communities.
Friendship Bridge has created participatory education lessons on topics clients identified as most important – business, women’s rights, health, and family. Friendship Bridge’s Facilitators (loan officers) deliver the non-formal education lessons at each Trust Bank’s monthly loan repayment meetings. Each month, Friendship Bridge’s 22,000+ clients in over 2,000 Trust Banks receive the same monthly curriculum, which Facilitators adapt to their particular clients’ lives.
Our educational curriculum is unique and responsive to our clients’ needs, taking into consideration that the average Friendship Bridge client has only 3.4 years of formal education, and does not read, write, or speak Spanish, Guatemala’s official language. Lessons are interactive and are delivered through flipcharts that have illustrations and pictures to accompany any text so our pre-literate clients can follow along. Additionally, our Facilitators must speak Spanish and the local Mayan language of the Trust Banks they serve to ensure that all clients can understand the lessons.
While non-formal education, as described above, is the backbone of our Microcredit Plus program, we also offer other educational programs:
Advanced Training Clients learn technical or advanced business skills to help them diversify their income.
Mentoring Clients in this program have been identified as Leaders on our Client Continuum. This program cultivates their high potential for leadership, growth, entrepreneurship, and impact on their communities.
Artisan Market Access In this program, artists and artisans participate in technical and business trainings designed to help them enter new local, national, and export markets.
Women’s Agriculture Credit & Training This pilot launched in 2016 to give our agriculture clients access to new markets through technical training and credit products that meet the unique needs in the agriculture sector.