by Rachel Turner
In a recent CGAP blog post, the writers state, “The opportunity exists for financial services providers to design products and delivery channels that allow women to seize opportunities and thrive beyond what current financial options make possible. For example, savings and loan products could be tailored to women’s livelihoods to enhance their productivity and increase their incomes. As women’s income increases, financial services providers could offer financial products that enable women to diversify into new livelihoods with further earning potential.”
The authors were specifically talking about cultivating opportunities for women in agriculture. I’m proud to say that I work for an organization that is consistently taking this idea to heart. In November 2016, Friendship Bridge launched a pilot program–Women’s Agriculture Credit & Training.
Seeing how entrenched agriculture is in the Guatemalan culture and workforce (39%), we saw the need to create a product that provides agriculture clients access to new markets through technical training and credit products that meet the unique needs in the agriculture sector. Many of our clients are subsistence farmers with low harvest yield and value. Without the tools to produce more and sell their yield, these clients are often unable to find solutions to poverty.
Through one-on-one training, group workshops, and product growth demonstrations on parcels of land, our agriculture team has quickly grown this program to serve 469 clients in the department of Quiché. Now, the program is expanding to the department of Sololá.
“The greatest challenge has been helping clients modernize their agriculture practices instead of only following ancestral practices passed down through generations,” said Agriculture Project Coordinator Marco Monroy. “We’ve also begun involving the husbands in trainings since couples work the fields together. I enjoy this project because by teaching agriculture science we can see drastic changes – improvements – in the agriculture sector of Guatemala.”
At Friendship Bridge, we are consistently looking to provide products and services through our Microcredit Plus program that are tailored to each client’s individual level of development along her growth path to empowerment. The Women’s Agriculture Credit & Training program is just one example of the exciting initiatives our team is implementing.