LAKEWOOD, Colo. — A Lakewood nonprofit is helping Guatemalan women become more financially secure. Friendship Bridge is a nonprofit that provides educational, economic, and health services to women living in rural Guatemala.
“So many people ask, 'Why Guatemalan women?' So one of the reasons is that women generally give 90% back to their family. And so that means that they are ensuring that their kids are going to school and that they have nutritious meals,” Friendship Bridge Chief Financial Officer Tracie Cordeiro said. “Another reason is Guatemala ranks 122nd out of 153 countries that are most unequal…in terms of the opportunities that women have, the amount of money that they receive, the support that they receive through social services.”
Cordeiro said the organization supports a lot of artisans and teaches them about quality control and international markets.
“We provide small loans to groups of women who borrow collectively to finance a business,” Friendship Bridge Chief Strategy Officer Caitlin Scott said.
At the corporate office in Lakewood, Friendship Bridge has a store that only sells handmade products made by their clients in Guatemala.
Scott said in many cases, the organization can change their clients’ lives.
“We have so many women who tell us about their children being able to stay in school for a lot longer than they were able to themselves. They learned how to support their children in school, even though maybe they only have one or two years of school themselves,” Scott said. “We have stories about women who have grown a business from a small, foot-based business, carrying their businesses on their shoulders to having multiple stores and employing others…. Those are very common stories with more than 25,000 clients in Guatemala.”
Cordeiro said a study the nonprofit commissioned showed 94% of their clients earn more income after receiving help from Friendship Bridge.