The indigenous women we partner with are the heart and soul of Mercado Global. Our mission and vision originated with the goal of empowering women to break the cycle of poverty and become rural entrepreneurs.
We would like to introduce you to Lorena, an inspiring young woman who has utilized our microloan, education, and technical training programs to transform her life as well as her family’s.
My name is Lorena Chiroy Pixtay and I am 23 years old. I grew up in a small community called La Fe with 11 siblings. Family is everything to me, everything I do is so that they can have a better life.
When I was 10 years old, I had to drop out of school to support my family. With a large farm, we needed as many hands as possible to harvest our crops. Our livelihood and the importance of maintaining the farm were my family’s main priorities and education quickly became an afterthought.
When I wasn’t helping on the farm I worked in Guatemala City, two hours from my home, at a tortilla shop for 12 hours a day to earn more money for my family. The job required me to cook over a hot stove, making hundreds of tortillas a day. I always daydreamed about another life for myself but I never thought it would be possible.
One day, my mother was invited to join a weaving cooperative and work for Mercado Global. After working with them for a year she seemed so much happier. I didn’t realize that work could inspire that kind of fulfillment, but I soon found out exactly what she meant.
My mother’s cooperative expanded and I was able to leave the tortilla shop and join the cooperative with my sisters. We finally had a reliable income and shorter hours working as sewers for Mercado Global. Soon we were introduced to their free education and skills training program, where I learned about health, leadership, entrepreneurship, and personal savings. I couldn’t believe after ten years I was able to continue my education, for free!
During my first year with Mercado Global I was able to take out a loan as part of their microloan program and I now have my own sewing machine at home. After a year of working I was able to pay off the machine and now I own it. This microloan allows me to also earn extra income making aprons and traditional huipile blouses for people in my community.
I feel like I am setting an example for my younger siblings and creating a path for them to follow. With the income I earn from Mercado Global orders, I can help pay to send my younger siblings to school. This alone gives me more pride than I can put into words.
I am very happy with where I am in life. I am constantly learning and developing new skills while earning an income to support my family. To think that just three years ago I was working at a tortilla shop seems like another life. Now when I look to the future it seems so much brighter. I know I am an integral part of the Mercado Global team. Working hard to become one of the lead sample makers, I feel a sense of belonging and support that I always dreamed of finding for myself.