Microfinance is an effective development strategy in areas where wage-paying jobs are scarce and people survive through self-employment by creating and operating micro-enterprises such as weaving, embroidery, raising livestock or poultry, or growing fruits and vegetables. Our Microcredit Plus program includes loans for women to start or expand existing businesses and education to teach clients about topics like financial literacy, business growth, women’s rights, and health. 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 families and their communities. Each year, nearly 30,000 women are taking advantage of Microcredit Plus and maintain a repayment rate of over 98%.
For me, it is really fun to be in a group: to raise oneself up, to be able to have a business, to be able to work,” Tomasa said. “We have so many needs because of all our children. Four of mine are in primary and one in high school. I didn’t have enough money before, but thankfully with Friendship Bridge I now have extra money for all those extra costs.- Tomasa
Friendship Bridge has been a huge help to my family business because this organization has allowed me to have a loan and work together [with my family]. My husband tried to get a loan but was unsuccessful.
Trust Bank loan
This is our entry loan product, offered to groups of women who form a Trust Bank (7 to 25 women) and co-guarantee each others’ loans as a form of social collateral. The average new loan is $318, with a 98.6% repayment rate.
This loan supports clients’ investments in efficient, clean-burning stoves that replace open fires in their homes. These clients save an average of $37 per month by using less firewood for fuel, and they experience many health benefits from reduced smoke inhalation.
This school loan offsets costs associated with school enrollment, such as uniforms and school fees. Eighty-six percent of clients used the loan to continue their children’s education, and 14% used it to enroll a student for the first time.
This individual parallel loan is available to clients who have a good credit history and higher credit needs in order to further grow their businesses.
This loan gives our clients quick access to loan capital that has a shorter repayment period than our other loan products. Clients often use rapadito loans to pay for unexpected expenses or to take advantage of business opportunities in seasons of high sales.
Non-Formal Education (NFE)
NFE is the backbone of our Microcredit Plus program. Delivered monthly during Trust Bank meetings, NFE sessions cover topics related to health, women’s rights, family, and business. Learn more.
Clients learn technical or advanced skills at these trainings to help them diversify their income – skills like baking, flower arranging, piñata making, basket weaving, canning, and jarring. In addition to learning something new, clients are able to network with other women in this learning environment.
Clients who participate in this pilot have been identified as Leaders on our Client Continuum. The mentor program cultivates their high potential for leadership, growth, and impact on their communities as they participate in one-on-one and group business mentoring.
Artisan Market Access
This program provides artisan clients with technical and business skills to access new markets. Artisans participate in trainings designed to prepare them to enter new local, national, and export markets. Learn more.
Women’s Agriculture Credit and Training
This pilot is being designed to give our agriculture clients access to new markets through technical training and credit products that meet the unique needs in the agriculture sector.
Health for Life
The Health for Life program combines health education with women’s preventive health services. It was successfully launched in our Sololá branch in 2015, expanded to Chimaltenango in 2016, and will expand to a new branch every year. Learn more.
- 59% of population lives in poverty
- Half of Guatemalan children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition (highest rate in Latin America, sixth highest in the world – double that of Haiti)
- More than 60% of indigenous women are illiterate
- Guatemala is still recovering from a devastating 36-year civil war that ended in 1996
- Women invest up to 90% of their income in their families and communities
- Women make up 70% of the worlds poor
- Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, but only make 10% of the world’s income
- Investing in women is smart from both an economic and a social perspective