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Friendship Bridge began in n 1990 with the mission to send medical supplies to impoverished populations in Vietnam.
In 1994, they shifted their focus from medical supplies to microcredit and began offering small loans to impoverished women as a sustainable solution to ending hunger and poverty. Their clients, women who were deemed 'unbankable' in their communities, have started or expanded small businesses. Most reinvest their money into their children's education.
In 1998, Friendship Bridge expanded its work to Guatemala, another country suffering from extreme poverty and offering limited opportunities to women.
Believing local partners could make more of an impact in Vietnam, Friendship Bridge transferred its Vietnam loan portfolio of $258,000 to local partners in 2000.
Since then, they have focused solely on Guatemala. By 2003, almost 3,000 clients were borrowing from Friendship Bridge; by 2006 the number tripled to 9,000 clients; and today, they reach over 17,000 women through the Microcredit Plus program.
How Friendship Bridge Works
Earlier this year, 7NewsDenver featured Friendship Bridge in this report about how the nonprofit's loan program works:
GreaterGood supports this and other efforts to lift women out of poverty at The Hunger Site.