Kiva conducts regular, ongoing monitoring of all Lending Partners, but only posts status updates here in response to relevant, major changes at the partner.

Status Update - July 2020

Kiva has been in contact with Friendship Bridge to understand how we can best support their business and borrowers during the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to prioritize the safety and well-being of all staff, borrowers and their families as this global pandemic continues.

While country-specific responses to the crisis vary, most governments have imposed curfews, travel restrictions, and nation-wide shutdowns. Guatemala has imposed temporary moratoriums on loan payments, affecting not only microfinance, but the economy as a whole. 

As a result, borrowers and Friendship Bridge may experience difficulty making and collecting loan repayments due to the aforementioned restrictions or fallout effects of the virus. Over the coming months, it’s possible that lenders will see a delay in repayments and new loans posted by Friendship Bridge. As an impact-first funder, Kiva is committed to serving our Lending Partners, as in past crises. We are sympathetic to temporary increases in repayment delays and delinquency in order to help Lending Partners and borrower communities recover. 

Kiva is working closely with Friendship Bridge to support them and their borrowers through the COVID-19 crisis. Friendship Bridge is sending regular updates to Kiva, and we'll update Partner Pages as we learn more. 

On behalf of Kiva and Friendship Bridge, we’re grateful for your continued support through this difficult time. 

Status Update - June 11, 2018

On June 3rd, Volcan Fuego in Guatemala erupted sending pyroclastic flows down its south-eastern slopes which engulfed several villages such as San Miguel de Los Lotes and El Rodeo. More than 100 people have lost their lives and more than 200 are still missing as search & rescue efforts are on-going amidst renewed volcanic activity emanating from Fuego. 4,000 people have also been evacuated. We have contacted our partners in Guatemala and both field staff and their families are safe. Our partners are in the process of contacting their clients to ascertain the gravity of the situation and initiate disaster relief activities. We will be in touch with our partners to assess how best we can help their borrowers recover in the event some of them have been affected. 


Partner Description:

About Friendship Bridge

Friendship Bridge currently provides microcredit to women clients throughout 13 departments in Guatemala, as well as free Non-Formal Education and preventive health services at six branches. It was established in 1990, initially in Vietnam and then shifting its focus to Guatemala in 1998. Headquartered in Lakewood, Colorado, Friendship Bridge has a staff of 12 in the U.S. and a team of nearly 250 employees across 12 branches, two satellite offices, and two administrative offices in Guatemala. Intentionally employing staff that represents the demographics of its clients, Friendship Bridge’s employees are 57% women and 52% indigenous. In addition, seven staff members are former clients.

Microcredit Plus Program

Friendship Bridge’s Microcredit Plus program offers Guatemalan women renewable microloans—averaging about $400 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.

 Friendship Bridge focuses on 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 $3.68 per day and depend on income from temporary employment. Friendship Bridge’s loan officers speak both Spanish and the local Mayan language of their communities.

 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 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 (at a 2.6% monthly flat interest rate, including all administrative fees), they are re-loaned, creating a continuous cycle of opportunity for Guatemalan women, their families, and their communities. Friendship Bridge’s loan repayment rate exceeded 99% throughout 2022. 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.

The Trust Bank Model

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 addresses attendance and 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 loan officers do not collect loan payments, but rather the Trust Bank board of directors is responsible for the collections of its members. 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.

Monthly trust bank meetings are coupled with Non-Formal Education training sessions, offering lessons on topics previously determined by Friendship Bridge’s clients.

Bridge to Success: Our Latest Program

Bridge to Success is the newest of Friendship Bridge’s programs which focuses on empowering women Entrepreneur clients in rural Guatemala with intensive business development training, individual microcredit loans, technical assistance, connections to peer networks, and access to new markets. These women are highly motivated, have an economically viable business model poised for growth, and are drivers of economic development and new jobs in their communities. Since launching Bridge to Success in 2021, results show that clients with more than four months in the program increased their income by 24%, profits by 31%, and number of employees by 29% on average.

Awards and Recognition

Friendship Bridge has received a consistent four-star rating with Charity Navigator and has been certified as a Best Place to Work for Women® in Central America and the Caribbean. See other recent achievements, learn about social performance visit www.friendshipbridge.org.


A Note on Friendship Bridge’s Portfolio Yield:

We care deeply about the cost that Kiva borrowers pay for their loans, which is why fair pricing is a core part of our initial due diligence process for Lending Partners. With Kiva's 0% capital, many of our Lending Partners are also able to add additional value to their loans by reducing interest rates, offering non-financial services or creating new loan products.

For partners with reported portfolio yields or average APRs higher than 50%, Kiva takes steps to check that the high rates are justified by the impact of the loans. Kiva also verifies that the partner is not generating unreasonable profits or paying inflated salaries, and that the partner’s elevated operating costs are justified by its operating environment and/or the design of its loan products.

We seek to support loans that don’t impose an unjustifiable cost burden on hard-working borrowers. We nevertheless recognize that in order to reach vulnerable and excluded people with high-impact products and services, some of our partners incur high costs that necessitate charging higher-than-average costs to borrowers in order to allow for sustainability and scale. 

Factors that drive up the costs that this partner organization charges its borrowers include:

  • They provide very small loans. This leads to higher operating costs, since providing each individual loan presents a minimum per-unit cost.
  • They provide more than just cash to many of their borrowers, including costly wraparound services such as healthcare, financial or business training, agricultural extension services, insurance or access to education.
  • They’re based in an area with a high cost of living and doing business. This is often due to the high demand and low supply of adequate housing and goods.
  • They work extensively in rural areas, which requires their employees to engage in costly travel to find and serve their clients.

Repayment Performance on Kiva

    This Lending Partner All Kiva Partners
  Start Date On Kiva May 7, 2007 Oct 12, 2005
Total Loans $22,023,375 $1,960,970,195
Amount of raised Inactive loans $0 $385,125
Number of raised Inactive loans 0 245
Amount of Paying Back Loans $2,631,775 $155,006,285
Number of Paying Back Loans 578 179,895
Amount of Ended Loans $19,391,600 $1,775,538,270
Number of Ended Loans 4,940 2,382,292
Delinquency Rate 0.78% 11.53%
Amount in Arrears $11,089 $10,730,796
Outstanding Portfolio $1,159,069 $93,051,115
Number of Loans Delinquent 24 45,519
Default Rate 0.42% 1.82%
Amount of Ended Loans Defaulted $80,683 $32,353,228
Number of Ended Loans Defaulted 126 84,927
Currency Exchange Loss Rate 0.00% 0.49%
Amount of Currency Exchange Loss $0 $12,023,738
Refund Rate 0.14% 0.54%
Amount of Refunded Loans $30,500 $10,526,300
Number of Refunded Loans 9 9,596

Loan Characteristics On Kiva

    This Lending Partner All Kiva Partners
  Loans to Women Borrowers 99.98% 78.24%
Average Loan Size $512 $392
Average Individual Loan Size $1,937 $589
Average Group Loan Size $4,118 $1,892
Average number of borrowers per group 8.2 8.3
Average GDP per capita (PPP) in local country $5,300 $5,599
Average Loan Size / GDP per capita (PPP) 9.65% 7.00%
Average Time to Fund a Loan 13.61 days 8.93 days
Average Dollars Raised Per Day Per Loan $37.61 $43.86
  Average Loan Term 11.12 months 11.47 months

Journaling Performance on Kiva

    This Lending Partner All Kiva Partners
  Total Journals 7,105 1,181,539
  Journaling Rate 93.06% 42.25%
  Average Number of Comments Per Journal 0.04 0.02
  Average Number of Recommendations Per Journal 0.64 0.57

Borrowing Cost Comparison (based on 2017 data)

    This Lending Partner Median for MFI's in Country All Kiva Partners
  Average Cost to Borrower 54% PY 31.00% PY 27.02% PY
  Profitability (return on assets) 1.3% 4.5% -3.10%
  Average Loan Size (% of per capita income) N/A 18.00% 0.00%

Country Fast Facts

Lending Partner Staff

Elena Coj
Tracie Cordeiro
Frisly DeLeon
Leticia Ibate
Amy Kuark
Alejandra Mercedes Lemus Mejia
Florinda Xinico