Empower women. Eliminate poverty.

Recent Posts

Sweet Success with Microcredit Plus

Client teaches daughter chocolate skillsMarta Cristina Pérez Carrera lives in Quetzaltenango, the second largest city in Gutemala. Several years ago, Marta Cristina took her three young children and left an abusive marriage. She struggled in the beginning just to meet her and her children’s basic needs.

It wasn’t until Marta Cristina found Friendship Bridge, and took out her first loan of $192, that life started to change for the better. Marta Cristina invested her first loan in a chocolate-making business. She had learned the craft from her mother-in-law but was struggling to earn enough to buy the raw materials to make more product. Though Marta Cristina still has to travel to use her mother-in-law’s chocolate making machine once a week, the loan has allowed her to produce more chocolates. She now sells the chocolates in three different markets.

One of Marta Cristina’s goals is to buy her own chocolate machine so she doesn’t have to rely on her mother-in-law. While she is earning enough income now to keep her children in school, she hopes to return herself to school on the weekends and eventually earn a college degree.

Guatemala: Post-Conflict Microfinance – “From Swords to Plowshares”

Jeffrey Nelson, a Kiva Fellow who has been working with Friendship Bridge in Guatemala recently posted this wonderful article on the Kiva Fellows Blog.

Post-Conflict MicrofinanceThe following blog post will discuss why micro-finance is distinctly qualified as an holistic-development tool to affect lasting improvement in post-conflict zones. After establishing an understanding of the Guatemalan post-conflict context, I will discuss anecdotal and academic evidence of the economic and social benefits that micro-finance provides in post-conflict zones. This blog’s content will be drawing heavily from the report, “Microfinance and Social Impact in Post-Conflict Environments,” by Laura K. Messiner. Please consult her report HERE for a more in-depth analysis.

Get the whole story here.

Giving Women an Asset for Life

Education has and will always be a signature component of Friendship Bridge programs.  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.  Keeping with this approach, in 2012 we inaugurated an advanced training program to help our more seasoned clients grow and diversify their businesses.

[do action=”image-right”]2013/06/CanningClass_Guatemala.jpg[/do]The trainings teach a variety of new business opportunities including advanced agricultural practices, pastry making, and canning.  Since its inception, nearly 400 women have participated in advanced training courses, learning to make new products and earning more income.

“This is learning for life.  I can now teach my family and neighbors these lessons and everyone benefits,” explains Angelica Zaput, a Friendship Bridge client.  Another client, Josefa Torres, is amazed at her own progress, “I began applying what I learned immediately.  I’m a vegetable vendor, and normally what I can’t sell goes bad.  Now, I pickle whatever I have left over to sell.  In just two weeks, I’ve earned an extra 300 quetzals ($38).”

Gardening for a Good Cause – Foothills Circle

[do action=”image-right”]2013/06/FoothillsCircleDayofGardeningWalsh.jpeg[/do]Each year the Foothills Circle donates three hours of garden labor to the silent auction at the Building Bridges Gala.  Over the years, this has become one of the most popular items at the Gala and we appreciate all the time donated by the green thumbs in Foothills Circle.

There was no rest for them this spring as they have already completed three days with three lucky auction winners.  Last weekend they had a lovely, cool, shady time planting containers, moving perennials, planting new perennials after adding LOTS of natural soil amendments. Now if they could just work some magic to keep the elk and rodents at bay!

This is just one fun, unique way our circles give back to Friendship Bridge.  Keep this beautiful garden picture in mind when bidding at 2014 Building Bridges Gala!

Growing With Our Clients

Clients Progress Out of Poverty

Agustina Quisquina Mendoza

[do action=”image-right”]2013/06/Agustina_BeansLR-150×150.jpg[/do]

Agustina Quisquina Mendoza, 51 years old, applied for Microcredit Plus through Friendship Bridge three years ago.  A weaver by trade, she used her loan to buy yarn and a more functional loom.  This small but crucial investment allowed her to produce more textiles, build a base of customers and earn more for her family.  She is now in her third loan cycle with Friendship Bridge and recently attended an Advanced Education course.  Learn about Agustina’s experience in Advanced Education in the 2013 Newsletter.

2013 Newsletter

“Fear is what stops people from doing things.  My fear is gone because of trainings with Friendship Bridge,” explains Vicenta Zaput Palaz.  Read more about Vicenta, learn about 2013 initiatives and meet other clients in our latest newsletter!

MicroCredit + Education = MicroCredit Plus, A Winning Combination

MicroCredit + Education = MicroCredit Plus, A Winning Combination

Our Microcredit Plus program combines small loans with non-formal participatory education. Women form groups of 7-25 members called Trust Banks. Each elects its own officers, creates business plans together, co-guarantees individual member’s loans, and participates in education sessions that are included in monthly loan repayment meetings.

Microcredit Plus Facts:

  • Friendship Bridge’s average loan size is $250 and loan terms are 4-12 months.
  • Friendship Bridge clients expand small businesses such as weaving, embroidery, pastry making, raising livestock or poultry, basket weaving, roadside vending, or growing fruits and vegetables for sale at the local markets.
  • Profits from the women’s businesses boost overall household income, as well as self-esteem.
  • As loans are repaid, they are re-loaned.
  • A Friendship Bridge client, on average, has 2.6 years of formal education, is unable to read and write and is unlikely to speak Spanish
  • Friendship Bridge has created non-formal, participatory education lessons such as business, money management, self-esteem, women’s rights, health and children’s education.

The benefits of microcredit include:

  • A greater ability to weather economic shocks, such as illness or natural disaster
  • Decreased malnutrition
  • Decreased spousal abuse
  • Improved hygiene and health care
  • Increased number of children attending school, especially girls
  • Increased support, camaraderie, and self-esteem among borrowers
  • Increased level of family planning (borrowers are 50% more likely to have fewer children)

Our Microcredit Plus programs are available to Guatemalan women thanks to the impact from generous donors like you. Please donate now to help us continue to provide loans, education, training and empowerment to women like Otilia.

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“Water spinach dulse potato bok choy bamboo shoot wakame napa cabbage summer purslane nori tomatillo kohlrabi groundnut melon corn endive broccoli rabe asparagus.” — Sandra

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“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.” — Tomasa