Helping Third World women |

Helping Third World women

by Daniela Martins
summit daily news
Special to the Daily/Friendship BridgeMicroloans allowed this woman in Nebaj, Guatemala to open a small store.

Over 80 percent of women in the Guatemalan village of Las Tampas are categorized as poor. About a quarter of them make less than $1 a day.

As scary as these facts may sound, people from all over the world can start changing this situation. Including people in Summit County.

Summit residents can help lift women from poverty supporting a non-profit and non-governmental Friendship Bridge fundraiser today at Denver Kickers Sports Club in Golden.

The Friendship Bridge concept is about providing microcredit and educational programs for poor women around the world so they can start their own business. It’s not charity, it’s a loan which benefits both sides.

With funds that vary between $100 and $300, poor women can start an economic activity to improve their lives ” such as raising livestock, farming fruits and vegetables or making clothing. According to the organizers, the payback rate is generally over 95 percent.

The Friendship Bridge also helps the borrowers meet their loan obligations through periodic meetings, monitoring progress, problems and issues.

Jim Felton, Frisco resident and a Friendship Bridge supporter, has no doubt about the efficiency of this kind of organization.

“The one single best thing one could do to improve world is improve the plight of women in Third World countries.” Felton said “As you know, the microloan concept won some guy nicer and cooler than me the Nobel.”

And so it did. In 2006, the Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize for their pioneering use of microcredit to improve development among the poor. Now, this successfully model has been exported for organizations like the Friendship Bridge, which continues to bring help for those who need.

Grace Felton, Jim’s daughter, may be young but is already engaged with the Friendship concept. The 16-year-old Summit High student has very clear opinions about the microloan and the poverty in Third World countries.

“I’ve already had the opportunity to go to some countries like those, and meeting these women made me want to give back as much as I can” said Felton. “I feel like in America we are so lucky in having the same opportunities, like in education, and they don’t.”

Jim and Grace Felton will be present at the fundraiser this Friday.

The Rockin’ Out Poverty event will be held from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. The Will Rockit band will provide the entertainment and Excellence Catering Services will offer a gourmet taco bar.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children under 12, with larger donations accepted. For more information about the event and the organization, go to

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