Recently at Mercado Global, we came across this quote: “If women everywhere had the power to determine their futures, the world would be forever transformed.” These words by Melinda Gates were highlighted by CNN in an article focused on women’s empowerment and the upcoming Women Deliver conference in Kuala Lumpur.
Her statement could not be more true--we’ve seen this impact firsthand through the growth and empowerment of partner artisans here at Mercado Global. Investing in women has the ability to change lives and communities and create a positive cycle that continues generations into the future. Indigenous women in Guatemala are part of a demographic that has historically been marginalized, and creating better opportunities for their success will in turn create positive social change in Guatemala.
As an organization, we are currently in the process of expanding our credit program to offer more opportunities for income generation to partner artisans. By offering loans with a low interest rate along with flexible payment schedules, Mercado Global gives artisans the opportunity to purchase industrial sewing machines, helping them increase their production capacity and allowing them to work with a larger variety of materials - including heavier fabrics, like leather, that their older machines are not capable of sewing.
Nicolasa, a partner artisan at Mercado Global, has gained an industrial sewing machine and has been able to improve her production rate. For every seven bags she makes with her industrial machine, her sister is able to make only one bag with a smaller machine. She often lends her machine to her sister but hopes that through MG credit program, she can take another loan to help her sister buy an industrial machine of her own - helping her work more easily and efficiently and increasing her income.
Petrona, another artisan, has also seen the impact of these industrial machines in her cooperative and is hoping to receive credit soon for her own machine. She says, “The credit is great for us as artisans, and helps us a lot. We don’t have the economic resources to buy a machine like that … and with small machines, the work can’t be done - you can’t work with leather. Mercado Global has helped us with credit to be able to do so.”
When asked about the impact of working with MG on her life as a whole, Petrona added, “Mercado Global has helped me a lot. With my family, my children…they really help us. If I wasn’t working with Mercado Global, life would be very complicated. But when you are working with Mercado Global, you see things differently. Right now, I am seeing good results.”
Through such Mercado Global programs, women like Nicolasa and Petrona can better support their families, invest in their children’s education, and be positive role models in their communities.
Investing in women offers hope that the cycles of poverty affecting indigenous people and women in Guatemala will be broken—because without a doubt, these investments are ones that will reap returns for generations.