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Mercado Global

Mercado Global is a social enterprise with an innovative approach to fighting poverty and empowering women in rural Guatemala. By providing business development support and connecting artisan cooperatives to sales opportunities in the U.S., Europe and Asia on an unprecedented scale, Mercado Global is helping its partner artisans be a source of change in global sourcing practices.

Founder Ruth DeGolia has been recognized for her role in founding and supporting a variety of programs and organizations related to international development and poverty alleviation. She has also received honors for her academic work on the impact of globalization on political and economic development in Latin America, including the William H. Orrick prize at Yale University and was named among the “World’s Best Emerging Social Entrepreneurs” by the Echoing Green Foundation and selected as one of the “15 People Who Make America Great” by Newsweek magazine.

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Tell us about your creative process, from conception to final product.

Each Mercado Global collection starts with a journey to the highlands of Guatemala where our designers partner with indigenous women artisans to develop unique pieces that combine traditional Mayan craftsmanship with modern design. Different communities throughout Guatemala specialize in weaving different fabrics using specialized skills. The bag is then assembled and all of the final details are added at our office in Panajachel for consistency.


How does your company create social impact?

Through business education and leadership programs, we help women create community businesses to support themselves and their families. By designing collections for the international market while using traditional local weaving techniques, we are changing the status quo for women, communities, and the industry.


A friend is taking a weekend trip to Guatemala. What should they do in 48 hours?

Saturday: Explore all of the small villages around Lake Atitlán by boat. Learn about textiles in San Juan La Laguna, experience a Mayan ceremony in San Marcos La Laguna, take in the views and colorful buildings in Santa Catarina Palopó and finish the day in San Antonio Palopó learning about local pottery.

Sunday: Go to the Chichicastenango market, the largest market in Central America.