International, Foreign Affairs, and National Security

Friendship Bridge

aka Friendship Bridge

Lakewood, CO

Mission

Our Mission: Creating opportunities that empower Guatemalan women to build a better life.

Our Vision:
Empowered women choosing their own path.

Core Values:
-Empowerment
-Respect
-Solidarity
-Participation
-Quality
-Integrity
-Transparency

Our History:

Friendship Bridge's history began with its work in Vietnam providing medical education and shipping medical supplies to impoverished populations in war-ravaged areas. While medical supplies were positively impacting the lives of recipients, Friendship Bridge was looking for a more sustainable solution to poverty reduction — the solution was microcredit. In 1994, we shifted our focus from medical supplies to microcredit and began offering small loans to impoverished women. Our clients, indigenous women who were deemed 'unbankable,' started or expanded small businesses and began creating their own sustainable solutions to poverty.

In 1998, Friendship Bridge expanded its work to Guatemala, another war-ravaged country suffering extreme poverty and offering limited opportunities to women. Friendship Bridge shifted out of Vietnam as operations in Vietnam became unsustainable due to an unfavorable political climate. Focusing solely on Guatemala, and aided by investment from American donors, the seeds of the Microcredit Plus program we know today were planted. By 2003, almost 3,000 clients were borrowing from Friendship Bridge. By 2006 the number tripled to 9,000 clients, and today we reach more than 22,000 women through our Microcredit Plus program.

Since 2012, our Social Performance Management team ensures that through all these endeavors, we stay true to our mission.

Ruling Year

1990

Principal Officer

Ms. Karen Larson

Main Address

405 Urban Street Ste 140

Lakewood, CO 80228 USA

Keywords

micro-credit, microcredit, microfinance, village banking, microenterprise, Guatemala, education, Mayan women, Mayan children, indigenous population, Latin America, Central America

EIN

84-1141078

 Number

6110514906

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

International Economic Development (Q32)

Management Services for Small Business/Entrepreneurs (S43)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Social Media

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Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Microcredit Plus

Where we work

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Our Results

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Number of job skills training courses/workshops conducted

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Females,

Indigenous people,

Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Number of loans issued to clients

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Females,

Indigenous people,

Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Related program

Microcredit Plus

Context notes

This number reflects loans for all our Loan Products, which include our Trust Bank Loans, Credisalud Loans, Crediescolar Loans, Rapidito Loans, Solidarity Loans, and Paralelo Loans.

Number of health education trainings conducted

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Context notes

This number reflects individual health education services conducted.

Average change in income of clients served (in dollars)

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Females,

Indigenous people,

Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Total dollar amount of loans issued

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Females,

Indigenous people,

Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Related program

Microcredit Plus

Number of borrowers served through the nonprofit's programs

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Females,

Indigenous people,

Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Number of loans issued

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Number of clients who report general satisfaction with their services

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Females,

Indigenous people,

Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Number of women counseled about Pap tests

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

Females,

Indigenous people,

Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

Friendship Bridge has experienced substantial success over the past 6 years and reached or made significant progress towards the majority of our Strategic Goals from the 2014-2016 Strategic Plan.

The organization has reached a size that necessitates more structure and professionalism while ensuring a culture that is built around improving the lives of our clients and the skills of our employees. The microfinance market in Guatemala is much more mature and competitive than it was 5 years ago, requiring consideration for competing differently and with enhanced skills and competencies in a number of positions. These needs are incorporated in our strategic plan below. The plan also ensures that we are innovative and client-centric, reflects a commitment to empowering our clients and our employees, and continue to find ways to become a more efficient and effective organization. Our clients will have access to various credit products, and education and health services, each serving to enhance her individual growth along a path of empowerment, business development and poverty alleviation. We will continue to work with and study the pilot projects we began in the last few years and improve and expand them when ready. With the support of empowered employees who are aligned with and believe in our mission, we will work hard to ensure we can offer these products and services in the most efficient and simple way and understand our clients well enough to know when and what will best support their needs. We will continue to grow a quality portfolio, especially penetrating existing markets from our 7 branch offices with specific focus on new clients meeting our poverty targets. We will effectively use Social Performance data to make the best decisions possible and measure and evaluate the impact of our work and our clients' progress. We hope to transform lives in the coming years.

1. Refine the CLIENT CONTINUUM STRATEGY offering client driven products and services to achieve the desired impact.
2. CUSTOMERS will be at the center of all our decision and data will be used to monitor and evaluate results
3. OUR EMPLOYEES are the foundation to achieving our mission and we will invest in a culture of empowerment and skills development
4. SIMPLIFY all operational activities while maintaining financial sustainability

1. For artisans and those involved in
agriculture, who make up a majority of our poorest
clients, we will develop an integrated value chain,
providing not only capital and skills, but eventually
linking clients possessing the desire and ability with
better access to markets to sell their products.
2. Over the next few years, we will capitalize
upon best practices and standardized reporting to:
• Implement systems for social responsibility
that meet or surpass industry standards
• Align business processes to achieve both
social and financial objectives
• Incorporate social impact into all
decision making processes
3. One of the significant
factors inhibiting the success of a client along the
Continuum is related to health issues, either hers, or
someone in her family. The 2017-2019 Strategic Plan
includes expanding the health services program, a
critical area to help improve the lives of clients, their
children and their communities.
4. Programs that develop leaders among our
employees are imperative, especially in rural areas where
hiring quality staff is always a challenge. A special
emphasis will be put on developing women leaders
and hiring more clients as employees. In addition,
maintaining a strong and informed Board of Directors is
critical to the future success of the institution. Ensuring
all of our leaders remain current with industry trends
will encourage change, innovation and progress toward
creating new opportunities for our clients and employees.
5. Using technology, process
improvement tools, employee retention strategies
and better transportation solutions will allow us to
streamline processes, improve employee effectiveness and
improve the timeliness of product delivery to clients.
6. To grow our portfolio, we
will expand geographically with new branch offices
reaching more impoverished, rural clients, while
increasing penetration in existing markets. The plan
also includes diversifying other revenue sources
including new platforms and medias for donations
and expanding our portfolio of impact investors.

Measurements for Success
The success of Friendship Bridge is based on clients'
growth as individuals and businesswomen to become
agents of change in their families and communities. 
To gain a deeper understanding of the impact of our
programs, Friendship Bridge will not only use client
satisfaction and exit surveys, but also client focus groups
and a client advisory council. In addition, we have
partnered with the Grameen Foundation to utilize the
Progress Out of Poverty Index (PPI). Over the last several
years, we have built a solid foundation to measure these
successes as clients begin to move along the Continuum,
and are currently collecting data on every client. In
2015-2019, Friendship Bridge will publish an impact
report on an annual basis to share our progress over time.

In 2016, Friendship Bridge provided microloans to over 28,000 Guatemalan women.
Roughly a third of those clients were new to
Friendship Bridge. Our clients live in 12 of the 22
departments of Guatemala, in regions that are
predominantly indigenous, impoverished, and rural (see
map on page 7). As indigenous women, they are among the
most marginalized populations in Guatemala and suffer
frequent discrimination because of their gender, economic
status, and ethnicity. As a result, our clients lack access to
healthcare and education and do not have significant
representation in the government. Additionally, like most
indigenous people in Guatemala, many of our clients do not
speak Spanish, the country's official language. Instead, they
speak one of the country's 24 indigenous languages, which
functions as an invisible barrier of communication.

Through poverty targeting, we ensure that we provide services
to the women who need them most. We target clients who live
in households that earn between $1.11 and $4.49 a day, and 87%
of our clients, as measured by PPI®, fall within this range.1
On average, our clients are 38-years-old, largely illiterate, and have
four children. They manage various types of businesses,
mostly as artisans, farmers, and vendors. Roughly half have
completed more than two loan cycles with Friendship Bridge.

Since 2011, we have tracked the poverty rates of our clients and increased the concentration of new clients within our target market.
We boast one of the better poverty penetration rates in the Latin American and Caribbean region,i
meaning we serve a higher
proportion of the poorest populations. However, we feel that we could improve outreach within the areas we serve to reach more
impoverished women, particularly in the departments of Quetzaltenango, San Marcos, and Retalhuleu.

From 2013 to 2014, our results show most clients have been elevated to a place of financial stability, but not necessarily economic
prosperity. Sixty-two percent of our clients did not change in poverty level over the period, while another 20% have experienced
improvements that signal movement out of, or less, poverty.x
Our data shows that the longer a client is with Friendship Bridge, the more likely she is to improve her PPI score.xi The two most salient
drivers of change in poverty are the number of dependent children under age fourteen in the household and ownership of a durable asset.

Ninety percent of clients surveyed reported having taken on a
leadership role in one of these three domains since becoming
a Friendship Bridge client. We found that for each successive
loan cycle, clients are 19% more likely to report that they have
taken on a leadership role,xiii which reinforces our theory that
through continued participation, clients are
aspiring for a better future and more
able to achieve their objectives.

External Reviews

Awards

4 Star Charity 2009

Charity Navigator

Photos

Financials

Friendship Bridge

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

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  • Forms 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2016
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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Not Applicable

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Not Applicable

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Not Applicable

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Not Applicable

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Not Applicable