Empower a woman to improve her life and her family's well-being, and to benefit her entire community.
When a woman has access to capital and the education to use it well, she becomes the instrument of her own change - and more. Women so empowered improve living conditions not only for themselves, but also for their families and their communities. By offering women a means to self-employment and self-sufficiency, we inspire them to become leaders, and the results are nothing short of amazing.
Rural, indigenous Guatemalan women often lack the educational and economic opportunities to create their own solutions to poverty. Less than 70% of all girls in Guatemala attend primary school, and less than 50% attend secondary school. 37% of Guatemalan women are unable to read or write.
Capital from a microloan and education in relevant life skills can change a woman's life forever. Loan recipients use these funds to start a new business or advance current businesses: they may purchase additional supplies, remodel storefronts, or hire staff. They also receive educational training sessions that are relevant to their daily lives; for example, training to develop a business or to manage money effectively. They learn to have confidence in themselves and their abilities, to make decisions, share ideas, and speak up for themselves, becoming community leaders and agents of powerful social change.
Make a difference for a woman in Guatemala! Your donation through this Gift That Gives More™ helps fund a microloan and training for a Guatemalan woman in need. Better still, your donation will touch the lives of many women in an amazing cycle of giving. Because the recipient of the microloan repays the amount she was given, the returned money can become a brand-new microloan for yet another woman in need, creating a "pay it forward" effect that touches many lives in a truly international bridge of friendship.
Recent Stories from Microloan Recipients
Yolanda, a 36-year-old woman from rural Quinche, Guatemala, leads a cooperative of twelve artists (pictured to the right). Yolanda has been weaving since she was a little girl, staying up late with her mother and working by candlelight because they didn't have any electricity. Today, she uses the skills she learned as a child to provide for her family. The microloans your donations helped fund have allowed Yolanda to invest in raw materials and expand her weaving business. She is now able to export her work to the U.S.! Friendship Bridge gave her the education and training necessary to have a successful business— training like budgeting, management, and sustainable business growth. Driven and determined, Yolanda has changed not only her life, but the lives of everyone in her community.
"Even though I didn't graduate from school and don’t have a real job title, I have meaning in my work. I love to make different designs and when I go to sell I feel happy because everyone says 'Wow, it is beautiful,' and they are impressed with the work that I’m doing. I feel accomplished and happy. I am really proud that I am a weaver." —Yolanda
Friendship Bridge client Juana Mendoza grew up in a rural community in the department (state) of Quiché, Guatemala. Most of the people in her community work in agriculture or raising livestock, and many women produce textiles and traje (traditional Guatemalan clothes). Juana’s father was a bricklayer and her mother sewed to provide for their family. Juana also learned to sew from a young age so she could support their family economically. Like many girls in Guatemala, she only attended school through the sixth grade. At age 17 Juana got married and started her family; she and her husband have two sons. However, after their second son was born, there was a shortage of work in their community, and Juana’s husband traveled to the United States to pursue work opportunities. Since her husband has been gone, Juana has found a community of support in her Friendship Bridge Trust Bank, Las Mariposas de Panajxit, along with an opportunity to provide for herself and her sons. With her first loan, Juana bought raw materials to weave corte (traditional fabric for skirts) on her foot loom. She purchased a variety of higher quality threads so she could create items to sell at a higher price point. With time, she has increased her profits and has been able to purchase a second foot loom to increase productivity. She has suppliers who purchase her products weekly, selling them across the region. Her Friendship Bridge loans have helped Juana move forward in her business and provide for her sons. In her words, “Finding Friendship Bridge was a great relief because I found the financial support I needed. I have also received training about how to invest my loan and run my business.” The generous support of Friendship Bridge partners like Greater Good makes stories like Juana’s possible. Thank you for investing in Juana’s future and allowing her to build a better life!
Vicenta grew up during Guatemala’s 36-year Civil War, and she lost her father in this conflict that devastated the country – particularly its indigenous communities. Like many indigenous Guatemalan women, weaving has been a tradition in Vicenta’s family for generations, and Vicenta started working with artisan groups at age 10 to help support her family economically. When Vicenta got married and had children, she decided to form her own artisan cooperative to help provide women in her community much-needed income. Most artisans in Guatemala only sell their products in local markets near their home villages. Vicenta, with her training from Friendship Bridge’s artisan program, has been able to reach a larger national clientele in the tourist markets in Antigua, Guatemala, and she is producing products for export to U.S. wholesalers, including for Friendship Bridge’s own online store. Vicenta credits the artisan training with increasing her confidence as an artisan and businesswoman. Through her increased income she has been able to keep all seven of her children in school and hire and empower four employees.
About Friendship Bridge
Friendship Bridge is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that provides microcredit and educational programs so women and their families can create their own solutions to poverty. The organization promotes women's empowerment through access to education and capital; offers a means to self-employment and self-sufficiency; and inspires women to become leaders and agents of change. Rooted in the belief that when offered microloans, education and encouragement, women embrace the hand-up they desire to make a better life for themselves, their families and their communities, Friendship Bridge currently empowers nearly 16,000 women in Guatemala.
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