Last updated February 8, 2013

Partner Description:

History

Friendship Bridge (FB) was established in 1990, having first worked in Vietnam and then shifting its focus to Guatemala in 1998. Headquartered in Lakewood, Colorado, Friendship Bridge has a staff of seven in the U.S. and a team of 83 at its six branches, two satellite offices, and headquarters office in Guatemala. Intentionally employing staff that represents the demographics of its clients, FB’s employees are 67% women and 60% indigenous. In addition, 9% of staff members are former clients.

Friendship Bridge currently provides microcredit and education to women throughout 10 departments in Guatemala.

Friendship Bridge Microcredit Plus Program

Friendship Bridge’s Microcredit Plus program offers Guatemalan women renewable microloans – averaging $350 for a four-to-twelve month loan cycle – and non-formal, participatory education lessons on business, money management, self-esteem, women’s rights, health and children’s education.

FB targets impoverished women living in rural areas of Guatemala that are characterized by extreme poverty and high levels of illiteracy. The majority of Friendship Bridge’s client households live on less than US$3.52 a day and depend on income from temporary employment. 42% of clients self-report being pre-literate (according to a 2011 PPI study). Friendship Bridge’s facilitators (loan officers) speak both Spanish and the local Mayan language of their communities (currently nine of the 24 indigenous languages spoken in Guatemala).

While participating in the Microcredit Plus program, Friendship Bridge clients start, expand or diversify their businesses, which range from weaving to raising livestock or poultry to roadside vending to growing fruits and vegetables for sale at the local markets. Friendship Bridge clients borrow as a group, forming Trust Banks – groups of 7 to 25 women who serve as co-guarantors of the loan and act as a self-regulating network of support.  

As loans are repaid, they are re-loaned, creating a continuous cycle of opportunity for Guatemalan women, their families and their communities.

Microcredit Program

Friendship Bridge’s Microcredit Plus program is a hand-up, not a handout, offering many benefits for women.  Loans provide self-sufficiency, income generation and consistent cash flow. As a result, women gain self-confidence and respect from their families and communities.

This access to capital for women, who would not normally be eligible for loans at traditional banking institutions, provides them with the opportunity to participate more fully in the economy and to gain self-worth. Many of Friendship Bridge’s clients have stated that their husbands support their involvement with Friendship Bridge, because the husbands themselves are unable to access capital.

Friendship Bridge’s average microloan is $350 for a four-to-twelve month loan cycle with a 2.6% monthly flat interest rate, including all administrative fees. Friendship Bridge maintains a loan repayment rate of 98%. During 2011, Friendship Bridge clients used their loans in the following ways: commerce – 61%; textiles (production/sales) – 23%; animal husbandry – 8%; agriculture – 3%; services – 3%.

Trust Bank Leadership

Friendship Bridge's Trust Bank model provides participants with an opportunity to practice and develop leadership skills. All members of the Trust Bank are involved in determining a regular, monthly meeting time and location that accommodates them all, as well as electing its own board of directors – a president, vice president (optional), treasurer and secretary.  Responsible for the management and leadership of the larger group, the board helps address attendance and/or repayment issues with individual members, ensures that meetings are run effectively, and handles banking tasks on behalf of the group.

An important distinction in Friendship Bridge’s model is that the loan officers do not collect loan payments, but rather the Trust Bank board of directors is responsible for the collections role.  Two members (rotating monthly to mitigate risk), including one officer, take all of the collections to the bank for deposit. This structure provides decision-making roles for Trust Bank members, further aiding in their empowerment and leadership development.

Non-Formal Education Program

Friendship Bridges monthly loan repayment meetings are coupled non-formal participatory educational trainings – offering lessons on topics previously determined by FB’s clients.  In 2008, clients were surveyed and determined the primary curricula topics that interested them, which have since been developed into Friendship Bridge’s educational program. The topics include business, money management, health, business management, and self-esteem.

In 2011, Friendship Bridge added training on violence against women in response to a UNICEF report that cited Guatemala as "one of the most dangerous places for women in all of Latin America... where 98% of crimes against women go unpunished." In 2012, the organization added another topic on over-indebtedness -- how to calculate, how to avoid, and the perils -- for which it won an award from Citi Bank.

At the start of each year, which correlates with the beginning of the Guatemalan school year, the monthly lesson stresses the importance of children’s education and offers tips on how to be a supportive parent to a child in school.  Interactive methods of teaching, including rotafolios, a flip-chart style learning tool that includes illustrations or actual client photographs, are used to deliver the lessons to our primarily pre-literate client base.

By requiring attendance at these meetings, FB creates an opportunity for women to develop bonds with their fellow Trust Bank members, while learning new skills that are applicable in their everyday lives.  With most clients having only a few years of formal education, the trainings offer a learning experience that is generally otherwise unavailable to them.

The Building Bridges video captures the impact made by Friendship Bridge’s Microcredit Plus program.




Please visit www.friendshipbridge.org for additional information and to read some of the personal success stories of Friendship Bridge’s clients.


Repayment Performance on Kiva

    This Field Partner All Kiva Partners
  Start Date On Kiva May 7, 2007 Oct 12, 2005
Total Loans $1,371,450 $587,357,225
Amount of raised Inactive loans $0 $588,950
Number of raised Inactive loans 0 506
Amount of Paying Back Loans $574,900 $120,516,975
Number of Paying Back Loans 144 127,444
Amount of Ended Loans $796,550 $466,251,300
Number of Ended Loans 356 592,934
Delinquency Rate 0.06% 4.77%
Amount in Arrears $234 $3,778,832
Outstanding Portfolio $407,963 $79,211,559
Number of loanDelinquent 1 20,687
Default Rate 0.00% 1.14%
Amount of Ended Loans Defaulted $0 $5,336,912
Amount of Ended Loans $796,550 $466,251,300
Number of Ended Loans Defaulted 0 16,802
Currency Exchange Loss Rate 0.00% 0.08%
Amount of Currency Exchange Loss $0 $480,684
Refund Rate 0.35% 0.77%
Amount of Refunded Loans $4,800 $4,496,750
Number of Refunded Loans 2 5,041

Loan Characteristics On Kiva

    This Field Partner All Kiva Partners
  Loans to Women Borrowers 100.00% 74.16%
Average Loan Size $364 $418
Average Individual Loan Size $421 $656
Average Group Loan Size $3,798 $1,829
Average number of borrowers per group 10.5 8
Average GDP per capita (PPP) in local country $4,155 $3,432
Average Loan Size / GDP per capita (PPP) 8.75% 12.19%
Average Time to Fund a Loan 3.85 days 5.58 days
Average Dollars Raised Per Day Per Loan $94.51 $74.97
  Average Loan Term 10.59 months 10.32 months

Journaling Performance on Kiva

    This Field Partner All Kiva Partners
  Total Journals 316 293,430
  Journaling Rate 71.94% 42.43%
  Average Number of Comments Per Journal 0.66 0.08
  Average Number of Recommendations Per Journal 9.50 1.89

Borrowing Cost Comparison (based on 2012 data)

    This Field Partner Median for MFI's in Country All Kiva Partners
  Average Cost to Borrower 44% PY 31.00% PY 33.64% PY
  Profitability (return on assets) -12.7% 4.5% -1.40%
  Average Loan Size (% of per capita income) 8.50% 18.00% 41.35%

Country Fast Facts

Field Partner Staff

Astrid Cardona
Rebecca Cueto
Frisly DeLeon
Marta Julia Ixtuc Cuc
Nelson Moreno
Caitlin Scott
Evelyn Ivonne Nineth Tzurec Bixcul
Voluntario Voluntario