Friendship Bridge

Empower Women. Eliminate Poverty

aka Friendship Bridge   |   Lakewood, CO   |  http://www.friendshipbridge.org

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 info

1990

President and CEO

Ms. Karen Larson

Main address

405 Urban St Suite 140

Lakewood, CO 80228 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

84-1141078

NTEE code info

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.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2019, 2018 and 2017.
Register now

Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Indigenous women in rural Guatemala face challenges around credit access, bankability, education (more than 60% of indigenous Guatemalan women are illiterate), and access to health services, mentorship, and empowerment. The women we serve live in rural areas where the rate of poverty is the highest (59% of the population lives in poverty). Our mission is to create opportunities that empower Guatemalan women to build a better life. Our clients, indigenous women who were deemed ‘unbankable,’ started or expanded small businesses and began creating their own sustainable solutions to poverty. We believe that microcredit must be combined with education and preventive health services to help clients build resilience and pursue opportunities.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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

Microcredit Plus

Generally speaking, microcredit is the lending of small amounts of credit to self-employed people who live in very poor conditions. Friendship Bridge believes that for best results in eliminating poverty, microcredit must be combined with education. We call this our Microcredit Plus program.

Friendship Bridge’s average loan size is $313 over nine months with a 3% monthly interest rate, and our clients maintain an above 98% loan repayment rate. To borrow through Friendship Bridge’s Microcredit Plus program, women must first form groups of 7-25 members called Trust Banks. Each Trust Bank co-guarantees individual member’s loans and participates in the Non-Formal Education sessions that are part of every monthly loan repayment meeting.

Education has and will always be a critical component of Friendship Bridge’s 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 children, and their communities.

Friendship Bridge has created non-formal, participatory education lessons on topics clients identified as most important — such as business, money management, self-esteem, women’s rights, health, and children’s education. Friendship Bridge’s 60 Facilitators (loan officers) deliver the Non-Formal Education lessons at each Trust Bank’s monthly loan repayment meetings. Each month, Friendship Bridge’s 22,000+ clients in 3,000 Trust Banks receive the same monthly curriculum, which Facilitators adapt to their particular clients’ lives.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work

Awards

4 Star Charity 2009

Charity Navigator

Leader 2019

TrueLift

4 Star Charity 2019

Charity Navigator

4 Star Charity 2020

Charity Navigator

Central America 2020

Great Place to Work

Central America 2021

Great Place to Work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of job skills training courses/workshops conducted

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Women and girls, Indigenous peoples, Economically disadvantaged people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of loans issued to clients

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Women and girls, Indigenous peoples, Economically disadvantaged people

Related Program

Microcredit Plus

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

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

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Health, Social and economic status, Ethnic and racial groups

Related Program

Microcredit Plus

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This number reflects individual health education services conducted.

Total dollar amount of loans issued

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Women and girls, Indigenous peoples, Economically disadvantaged people

Related Program

Microcredit Plus

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of borrowers served through the nonprofit's programs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Women and girls, Indigenous peoples, Economically disadvantaged people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of clients who report general satisfaction with their services

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Women and girls, Indigenous peoples, Economically disadvantaged people

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

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

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. 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. 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 8 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.

Strategy Plan 2021-25
1)Responsible Growth: Strategic targeting to acquire new clients and geographies, improved retention rates, and expanded reach and depth of our programs and services.

2)Innovation and Technology: Be a nimble, responsive, and learning organization that is quick to respond to client and market needs. New technologies will allow both Friendship Bridge and our clients to prosper.

3) Puente al Éxito/ Bridge to Success : Provide appropriate products and services to Entrepreneur clients to support the creation and/or expansion of their businesses, increase empowerment, activate business development, and create jobs in rural areas of Guatemala.

4) Social Impact: Contribute to creating positive generational change and community transformation for clients, their families, and Friendship Bridge employees.

2021 Initiatives
1. Growth - take advantage of our position and the market situation to rapidly recover and grow the portfolio, bringing our impactful services to more clients in our target market
2. Digital Transformation – strategically implement technology to become a more efficient and agile organization and to achieve excellence in client services and operations
3. Puente al Éxito – implement research & design and pilot phases of the 3-year project plan, utilizing Grant partnerships
4. Social Impact: Utilize Intranet to provide communication around opportunities for employees, utilize technology to regain traction with Client Advisory Committees.

We had met and exceeded many of the goals in our three-year Strategic Plan that ended in 2019. In 2019, we served more than 30,000 clients who were making outstanding progress. As of December 2019, our portfolio quality continued to be one of the best in the industry, with write-offs and delinquencies of 1.7% and .51% respectively; our client retention rate exceeded 80% for clients with more than 2 loan cycles; the loan portfolio surpassed $9 million for the first time in our history; and we proudly earned the certification of a Great Place to Work™ by committing to an outstanding work environment for our employees. Our past successes will only help us meet the demands of current challenges.
As of December 2020, nearly 95% of our clients continue making their loan repayments. In 2020, our staff innovated and created solutions quickly to support each client with remote education and resources. We invested in new technology to support the current need to communicate with clients from afar and utilize a more efficient way to do business. We also provided emergency food relief for those clients and staff who are struggling to feed their families during the pandemic. Together, we will build a resilient future for women in Guatemala.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Our average client is a 37-year-old Mayan woman whose household earns between $1.11 - $4.49 a day. She has just 3.4 years of formal education, cannot read or write, and is unlikely to speak Spanish. All of this adds up to an inability to secure a loan from traditional banks that might better her situation.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Our clients expressed that they were ready to move away from group loans and to become eligible for individual loans. In order to provide this service, we have been developing our new loan program, Puente al Exito- Bridge to Sucess, which will provide individual loans and business mentorship.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Being Client-centric has deepened our clients' trust and loyalty to our programming. Our clients have said they understand we see them as women, rather than just as borrowers. We remain committed to our mission of empowering them to build better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection,

Financials

Friendship Bridge
lock

Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.

Subscribe

Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights?
Learn more about GuideStar Pro.

Operations

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

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Friendship Bridge

Board of directors
as of 9/22/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

James Wood


Board co-chair

Susan Zimmermann

Susie Miller

Caroline Rodriguez

Paula Farrell

Paul Kovach

Paolo Leiva

Meryle Melnicoff

Dawn Olsen

Carolina Roca

Sandy Younghans

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and 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? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 05/28/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/28/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.