Friendship Bridge partners with Poverty Stoplight to improve clients’ lives
In 2022, Friendship Bridge implemented the Poverty Stoplight, with the poverty elimination methodology of Fundación Paraguaya. It’s designed to help our clients holistically assess their living conditions and quality of life in order for them to identify concrete actions for improvement.
The Stoplight comprises 31 indicators from the Multidimensional Poverty Index developed by the UNDP and Oxford University, which are organized into six different dimensions (below). Using illustrations and the colors of a traffic light to indicate an acceptable situation (non-poverty) in green, one that needs improvement (poverty) in yellow, and an unacceptable one (extreme poverty) in red, Friendship Bridge clients selected the color that best reflected their situation. 759 Friendship Bridge clients (a representative, randomly selected sample) participated in the Poverty Stoplight process. After completing a survey, clients were provided a Life Map—a tool that allows them to see their current condition and establish priorities for areas on which they want to work.
One Facilitator from Quetzaltenango shared the following about one of her clients participating in Poverty Stoplight:
“Despite knowing the client for several years…I did not know her emotional state. The survey allowed me to know her better and value all the sacrifices she has made, and above all, to know that [Friendship Bridge] has been a primary pillar for her. [My client] was able to externalize her emotions [and] needed space to be heard. As facilitators, we do not really get to know the emotional situations that the clients are going through. We can see them smiling in the meetings, but we do not know their reality. With the survey, she understood and reflected that she needs to improve in some areas.”
The overall results reflect that 62% of the client indicators are in green, 28% in yellow, and 10% in red. Longer-term clients (four or more loan cycles with Friendship Bridge) were 4% points less poor than newer clients (in cycles one, two, and three) and had better conditions than new clients for every indicator.
The dimension with the highest extreme poverty rate is Organization & Participation (20%). In this dimension, the indicator with the highest number of reds is the Group indicator (participation in a community group). On the other hand, the dimension with the highest green rate (without poverty) is that of Self-Reflection & Motivation (77%), with the indicators of Autonomy over Health and Business being the highest number of greens.
“Greens [our clients received] are related to self-motivation and empowerment, and we focus on self-esteem, health, and business in our Non-Formal Education, so it’s a good sign to see these are areas of strength in our clients,” said Caitlin Scott, Chief Strategy Officer of Friendship Bridge.
“We also saw that the results in nutrition are better than the national average, which is consistent with what we have seen over the years,” Scott continued. “One of the first improvements we see [when clients join us] is in the way that they feed their families.”
The top five of the indicators most prioritized by clients (only those in yellow and red were prioritized) to improve are the following: Savings, Waste Management, Unforeseen Events, Income, and Assets. Clients created plans focused on taking direct action toward these indicators.
“The results show that the clients we are reaching with our products and services are a more poor demographic [relative to Guatemala’s national poverty rate], and their poverty rates tend to be in the areas of assets, education, infrastructure, and health,” Scott said.
Each client had the opportunity to select, from the indicators she had in green, which of them she wanted to recognize and celebrate as an achievement for her. The achievements that were most frequently celebrated were income (10%), water (8%), self-esteem (7%), savings (6%) and credit (6%). One client reflected on her achievements after completing the survey and Life Map:
“I feel happy; I have never seen everything I have achieved before. Seeing so many ‘greens’ fills me with joy and pride, and I am full of emotion. The truth is that with my earnings I have managed to turn on the electricity, and the water, and now I have my little things. It makes me proud to have my own house.
I have been fighting. I am a single mother of two children. The neighbors tell me that I am energetic because I have managed to do my things. I have received courses in making baskets, I have plans to be able to have a small business with the baskets, and with another loan I will make more baskets. In addition, education is important for my children.
I dedicate myself to agriculture and I know that sometimes I can lose the harvest. For that reason I [look for] other sources of income and maybe the baskets will help me. I always look for ways to have more income little by little.”
Client Priorities for Improvement
The indicators most prioritized by clients for improvement are: savings (20%), waste management (12%), unforeseen events (8%), income (6%) and assets (6%).
With the technical support of Fundación Paraguaya, Friendship Bridge held sessions to determine which priorities the organization could address to support clients in those efforts. The indicators prioritized by Friendship Bridge are Savings and Waste Management, for which an action plan has been developed for implementation in 2023.
Friendship Bridge will also follow up with and encourage clients to progress in their personal action plans over the course of the year and will conduct another survey with them in 2023 to measure progress.