How does Mercado Global support its partner artisans?

Mercado Global considers the assistance it provides as a hand-up as opposed to a hand-out. The organization not only works to provide rural Indigenous women with work opportunities through its International Market Access program, but also prepares women with both the knowledge and tools to successfully start their own local businesses that function completely outside of their work with Mercado Global.

Through their work with Mercado Global, women become economically empowered and can make informed decisions that change outcomes for themselves and future generations.

Are Mercado Global’s partner artisan’s employees of the organization?

No – Each Mercado Global partner artisan works in a cooperative that is owned by the women who make up the cooperative. These women do not work for Mercado Global, but instead make the decision to collaborate with Mercado Global when the organization receives an order.

Does Mercado Global employ anyone from the areas in which they work?

Yes – Mercado Global employs around 20 Indigenous women at any given time in a variety of roles. Some of these women are trainers who teach in the organization’s community based-skills program or in the market access training initiatives (such as intensive sewing and weaving classes). Others hold positions on the accounting team, the team that helps artisans participate in sales opportunities, and positions as high as the director of operations in Guatemala. The entire leadership team for Guatemalan operations is composed of indigenous women, with most coming from the same communities where they work. And the director of operations in Guatemala actually began as an artisan before working her way up through Mercado Global’s operations, earning her high school, university and masters degree all while working full time for Mercado Global! You can see the core team here.

How do Mercado Global partner artisans earn an income?

Each product that is produced by Mercado Global partner artisans undergoes a lengthy process (please see the Journey of a Bag diagram and video). This means that no one woman or one cooperative is responsible for the creation of a singular product, instead it is a multitude of people and cooperatives spread throughout the region where Mercado Global is located.

Women earn $17 per day of work with Mercado Global. This wage was set based on what it costs to send their kids to school, provide nutritious meals, and afford health care for their families. As a point of comparison, 75% of Indigenous people in Guatemala are living on less than $2 a day. If artisans were not working with Mercado Global, their primary alternate income opportunity would be to work periodically as day laborers in the fields or on coffee plantations, where they would generally earn $6.75 per day.

In addition to these wages, partner artisans receive the education and tools necessary to start their own local businesses to increase their overall income.


20% – 30% – Artisan Income: Artisans earn an hourly wage for their work weaving, sewing, detailing and packaging with Mercado Global. This income is received by the artisans before the sale process is completed and is not contingent on the sale of the item they worked on. Artisans earn $17 per day for 8 hours of work (see how this rate was established above).

5% – Shipping & Handling: A percentage of the sale is used to cover shipping, taxes and handling of each piece.

10% – 15% – Mercado Global Expenses*: Mercado Global uses a percentage of the sale to offset costs of bringing the product to market. This includes contributions towards the cost of Mercado Global’s production, design and sales team, and marketing costs such as tradeshows and photoshoots for each collection.  

*Mercado Global is a 501(c)3 nonprofit which undergoes annual audits to review its income. The organization’s operations are also audited by Levi’s on an annual basis.

45% – 55% – Retailer Expenses: Retailers collect a percentage of the revenue to cover the cost of selling the piece to the end consumer, including sales staff, retail space and marketing costs. This markup is industry standard and needed to ensure retailers will carry the artisans’ collections on an ongoing basis.

In the case of this collaboration, Liverpool is donating back half of its share of revenue from product sales to Mercado Global’s Community Based Education Program, which funds the business development and technical training we provide to partner artisans.