Who We Are at Friendship Bridge
We are a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers impoverished Guatemalan women to create a better future for themselves, their children and their communities through microfinance and education. Friendship Bridge works primarily with indigenous populations in rural areas where the rate of poverty in Guatemala is the highest. While illiteracy and poverty rates are staggering in these regions, the women we work with are determined to create a change.
- 59% of population lives in poverty
- 50% 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
Investing in women is smart from both an economic and a social perspective. Globally speaking:
- 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
The average Friendship Bridge client is a 37 year-old Mayan woman whose household earns between $1.11 and $4.16 a day. On average she has only 3.4 years of formal education, has four children, 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.
Our Microcredit Plus program combines small loans (our average loan size for new clients is $318) with Plus services such as participatory non-formal education, preventive health services, advanced education, mentoring, and market access training for our artisan and agriculture clients. Nearly 30,000 women participate in Friendship Bridge’s Microcredit Plus program each year. These women are becoming more empowered to find solutions to poverty and create better futures for themselves, their children, and their communities. Through our Microcredit Plus program:
- 95% of clients feel their income has increased or stabilized
- The majority of clients have started or increased savings
- Clients are investing in improved nutrition for their families
- Women are able to rely on their own business income rather than their husbands’ income
- Clients decrease their vulnerability to poverty
- Women are more likely to take on leadership roles in their families, Trust Banks, and communities
- Women have the resources to enroll (or keep) their children in school
Friendship Bridge is a 501(c)(3) organization with a tax ID number 84-1141078.