Guest Storyteller: Ruth DeGolia of Mercado Global

We had the great pleasure of catching up with Ruth DeGolia, Founder and Executive Director of Mercado Global, to learn more about the incredible, inspiring artisans behind the organization. Ruth started Mercado Global out of her college dorm room working with just a handful of artisans and has since grown it into a successful non-profit enterprise working with over 360 artisans in 31 cooperatives!

What is your favorite aspect of working with and visiting artisans in Guatemala?

Hands down: seeing the impact our sales and training programs have in the communities with which we work. 

The women we work with are some of the most talented, hard-working and inspiring women I have ever met.  These women are amazing weavers and jewelry makers – skills that have been passed down in their families for generations.  These women don’t want handouts – they want a market.  They want a chance to earn their own income.  And they want what every other mom wants: the ability to send her daughters to school.

It is unbelievably rewarding to see how the women we work with hold themselves with increased self-confidence and pride as we help them earn their own, significant income for the first time.  And, of course, the most important part is seeing their children in school (and knowing that we helped the mothers earn the funds to send their children to school themselves!)  This is, ultimately, why we are all here. 

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Histoire Lesson: Mercado Global

This week, we’re thrilled to highlight one of our newest partners, Mercado Global. Founded in 2004 by Ruth DeGolia, Mercado Global is a nonprofit organization whose distinctive fair trade collections demonstrate the power of partnership to change the world, one purchase at a time. Each Mercado collection starts with a journey to the highlands of Guatemala, where designers partner with indigenous women artisans to develop unique creations that fuse exceptional Mayan craftsmanship with modern design.

To give you some context to Mercado Global’s work, indigenous Guatemalans remain on the periphery of the global economy. 93% percent of the indigenous population lives in poverty and fewer than two out of ten girls complete the sixth grade.  Furthermore, Guatemala has the highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the Western Hemisphere – about 73% of children younger than 5 years old are malnourished.

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