Panelists included Ruth DeGolia, Executive Director of Mercado Global; Cesare Maria Ragaglini, U.N. Ambassador to Italy; Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Strategic Planning; Franca Sozzani, Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief and F4D Goodwill Ambassador; Evie Evangelou, co-founder and Global Chair of F4D; Ray Chambers, Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Advocate and Special Envoy for Malaria; Ilaria Fendi of Carmina Campus and Fendi Family; Karen Giberson, President of the Accessories Council; and Janice Sullivan, CEO of Edun.
“Where you succeed with women, you will succeed with your goals,” expressed Mr. Orr. “Our most under-utilized asset is engaging women in leadership roles. For decades we have known but failed to meet the needs for women. The answer is to create a movement of peoples comprised of members of philanthropy, civic leadership, industry, and government.”
“I think the fashion industry will lead the emergence of so many of the developing economies,” Mr. Chambers said. “So the leadership of the fashion industry could not have come along at a better time.”
Ms. DeGolia highlighted Mercado Global’s work in Guatemala. “We work in communities with low levels of literacy, high levels of chronic childhood malnutrition, and a widespread lack of access to basic healthcare. We use a non-profit funding model to enter these communities and teach these women a trade, help them launch sustainable businesses of their own, and connect them to the U.S. market.”
“Right now over 300 women are benefiting from our work and 2,000 children are in school and receiving adequate food and healthcare due to our programs. We are proud to announce our commitment to doubling the number of women and children we work with over the next three years. We are launching our Educate to Empower Campaign to bring this model to more communities in Guatemala’s highlands and recruit more major retailers in the U.S. to join with our current sales partners in having profits through principles and leveraging their market power to source products that sell well while also helping advance the Millennial Development Goals.”
“Imagine the progress we could make towards the MDGs if all of the major U.S. retailers were sourcing products that helped women and children as a core part of their business strategy?”
About Mercado Global
Mercado Global is a social enterprise with an innovative approach to fighting poverty and empowering women in rural Guatemala. By providing business development support and connecting artisan cooperatives to sales opportunities in the U.S. on an unprecedented scale, Mercado Global partner artisans are a source of change in global sourcing practices.
Each Mercado Global collection starts with a journey to the highlands of Guatemala where Mercado Global designers partner with indigenous women artisans to develop unique pieces that combine Mayan craftsmanship with modern design. From one of the most marginalized populations in the world, Mercado Global’s partner artisans are rising to become leaders in their communities and are sending their children to school, often for the first time.
Mercado Global's partners include Levi Strauss, Anthropologie, and ABC Carpet and Home, among others. For more information about Mercado Global, its partner communities, and to view the current collection, please visit www.mercadoglobal.org