In response to the global crisis, Mercado Global pivoted to help meet the immediate needs of our partner artisans, as well as our global community. As cases continue to steeply rise in Guatemala, the situation there is dire and food shortage is only part of the problem. While tourism and remittances have been the primary revenue sources in the rural Indigenous communities we partner with, now our programs are often the only income for entire regions. Our innovative home-based production model ensures partner artisans can stay safe and quarantine.

By mid-March we had laid the groundwork for long-term impact and support:

  • Covid-19 health and awareness campaign: To prevent the spread of misinformation and help keep our communities safely prepared, in March our team began regularly reaching out to each partner artisan via video and phone calls, texts, and social media, updating them on the current health, hygiene, and nutrition recommendations.
    We have created a guide that is constantly being revised as more research shows how to slow the spread of the virus. Partner artisans are sharing this critical information not just with their families, but with entire communities. As of now, none of our partner artisans have tested positive for Covid-19, even though the region has been deeply impacted.
  • Operational restructure and delivery system: To ensure artisans do not have to travel and can safely work while they home isolate, we have shifted to a delivery system and transferred raw materials to artisans, so they can continue working without having to visit our offices.
  • Food distribution: To combat the country-wide food shortage and price hikes, we partnered with organizations to donate emergency food supplies to communities as we pick up and drop off materials and have distributed 15,000 pounds of food to those in need.
  • Mask initiative: To provide critical income to rural communities at a time of urgent need and extreme poverty, we launched our mask initiative in mid-March. This has been a transformational initiative for the organization and a lifeline for the women and families we serve.

Thanks to our donors and our buy-one, give-one collection, our masks have been donated to epicenters of the virus throughout the Americas – to hospitals and retirement homes, postal workers, housing authority residents, at-risk communities affected by HIV/AIDS in Mexico and Brazil, migrant farmworkers and their children throughout the U.S., migrant communities in Texas and New York City, social justice organizations in Brooklyn, and Indigenous communities in Guatemala - the home of Mercado Global artisans.

IN 2020:


Recruited an additional hundred women who have been virtually trained and are earning critical income through Mercado Global


Donated and distributed 120,000 reusable face masks to high-need communities


Launched four new collections with 172 styles including bags, accessories, and masks


Collaborated with ten major retailers including Levi’s®, Free People, Stitch Fix, and Shopbop

Our Covid-19 relief efforts have been strategically implemented to position ourselves for even stronger growth and impact post-pandemic, while providing immediate assistance to those who need our support the most in these challenging times.


For the first time, our partner artisans have become the breadwinners in their households. Since rural Guatemala’s main revenue is tourism, most people have lost their jobs and are struggling with food scarcity. Isabel, who has worked with us for 13 years, is now the only one in her family with a source of income since her husband has been unemployed since March – and has seen transformative change.

“Before, only men had rights, but Mercado Global helped us see that we’re equal. We can do anything. When I have a lot of work [through Mercado Global], my husband will do the cooking or the cleaning. I feel blessed to be working… Mercado Global has helped us so much."

“A lot of people don’t have enough food. Maybe they can only eat 1 or 2 times a day. It’s hard. My husband and I share potatoes with our neighbors who don’t have any food. We have to support each other.”

Every day, we hear what our work has meant to our partner artisans – like Virginia, who lives on the southwest shore of Lake Atitlán. She has two children to care for, but after having her arm amputated, struggled to find work. In February 2020, she joined Mercado Global and has said that as long as masks are needed, she will continue making them.

“With Mercado Global, I have learned how to overcome what I thought was a limitation. I have a job when I thought I couldn’t work, especially during quarantine when I can’t leave my home. But now, at a time that I might feel depressed or overwhelmed with the issues of the world, I feel useful and I have a sense of purpose.”