The United Nations recently held the Thematic Debate on Entrepreneurship for Development in New York. As described by the UN News Center, the discussion highlighted the key role entrepreneurship plays in global development. Officials participating in the event advocated the importance of nongovernmental organizations, particularly socially-minded enterprises, in supporting the United Nations’ development agenda. In his remarks, General Assembly President Vuk Jeremić contended that entrepreneurs “must be encouraged to stand at the frontline of socio-economic change, in the service of sustainable development.”

Ruth DeGolia, Founder and Executive Director of Mercado Global, explains, “In partnering with Mercado Global to create internationally marketable artisan products, these women transform into entrepreneurs and business owners, earning more than three times the average daily wage while working with major retailers.”

Maria, a partner artisan, organized a textile cooperative in her community and has witnessed the powerful impact of her actions. Speaking in her native language through a translator, she says, “Mercado Global has given me work and lots of experience. Now I have money to buy what I need, and I can send my children to school. This is very important to me.” She continues, “Without Mercado Global, my children could not continue in their studies – we could not afford it. Now I know how to save money, and I'm learning many other things as well.”

Candelaria, another partner artisan, also exemplifies the effect artisans have on development in their communities as entrepreneurs. With the increased income she earns with Mercado Global, Candelaria now supports five of her siblings, providing them with the means to attend school. She also recently applied for a loan through Mercado Global’s Economic Empowerment Program, and was able to purchase foot looms and a roof for her cooperative’s community center.

At the Thematic Debate on Entrepreneurship for Development, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated, “We should encourage, educate, and empower… entrepreneurs.” Mercado Global is one step ahead. They are revolutionizing the global development landscape with a business model that epitomizes the benefits of sustainable sourcing. In partnering with Mercado Global, artisans like Maria and Candelaria transform into entrepreneurs who break the cycle of local poverty via the global marketplace.

The United Nation’s renewed focus on entrepreneurship illuminates the importance of Mercado Global’s work. Partner artisans are enabled to think globally and act locally; a connection to the global marketplace provides them with the resources to create sustainable development in their local communities. As the Secretary-General declared, supporting entrepreneurs – Mercado Global’s partner artisans – is key to furthering crucial global development.

Alex Zafran is an MG Youth Ambassador and spent three weeks interning at Mercado Global’s office in Panajachel, Guatemala this summer. She is a student at Castilleja School in Palo Alto and has contributed to social enterprise efforts in Kenya, the Bay Area, and Central America.