Imagine you’re a weaver or leather-worker in Guatemala. You labor intensely over a product — let’s say a bag featuring textiles unique to your heritage — and sell it to an American tourist for $35. It’s worth a good deal more, you think, but the American drives a hard bargain and considering 65 percent of your nation lives below the poverty line, something is always better than nothing.
You make the sale.
A few months later, you stumble across the bag you made selling online for nearly $300 on an American website that claims to be benefiting artisans like yourself. The website may feature a picture of yourself that you never gave the visiting tourist permission to take or use, or it may feature a picture of a weaver you’ve never met from another village.
It’s a maddening scenario, but unfortunately one that’s extremely common for a group of skilled craftspeople whose work is in high demand on a global scale, but whose access and knowledge about how to create their own e-commerce avenues has been lacking. I decided to make a change by offering help.