I have been a supporter of Friendship Bridge for several years, and recently joined a board committee. This summer, my daughter was a volunteer intern with FB in Guatemala. I know the director fairly well, starting before she joined the organization. Karen is a business powerhouse and is doing great things for the organization. She is also very visible and well connected in the community. Previously she had a very high powered job in the equipment leasing division of Key Bank.
I am a finance person, and have looked at the organization's 2012 Form 990. The net cash flow is positive and the balance sheet looks fairly strong with over $1 million of cash reserves. I have visited women that they serve in Guatemala, who had used loan proceeds to start small businesses and were very appreciative.
I am very involved in the non-profit world and am completely impressed by this organization.
Review from Guidestar
It is an absolute truth that when you educate girls and women and provide them with the opportunity to better themselves through business, they will lift their family, even their entire village, out of poverty. Friendship Bridge follows through on their promise to educate and empower women in rural areas of Guatemala through microcredit. Their success rate shows in the smiling faces of the women who have taken advantage of the microfinance opportunities offered by Friendship Bridge. This organization follows through by offering textile shows in the States, and educational opportunities in the villages of Guatemala. Women who use the resources provided by Friendship Bridge are seeing their children attending school and even achieving goals such as graduation from high school and college. These families are learning the tools to lift themselves from poverty, a skill that can be passed on to generation after generation. My experience as a donor to Friendship Bridge has been wonderful. They are responsive to the requests of donors, and I find that the operational expenses are well within the acceptable range. I know my money is going to directly benefit a woman in Guatemala who will use it to the betterment of her family and her village. If I had any criticism, it would be that I would like to see Friendship Bridge expand beyond the borders of Guatemala - but I understand that it is most beneficial to focus on one area than to spread beyond their means and become less effective.