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Our Story

Patricia Krause

The idea for MayaWorks began in 1990 when Patricia Krause, a volunteer with the Behrhorst Partners for Development, agreed to carry a suitcase of weavings back to the U.S. with the hope of opening a market for the work of poor Maya women in Guatemala. The weavings in that suitcase sold quickly and soon she was carrying many suitcases from Guatemala back to the U.S. Before long, larger shipments were arriving to be processed through customs and then distributed to volunteers for selling.

Buyers in the U.S. were excited by the idea that purchases directly supported the development of poor Maya artisans, their families and communities. As U.S. sales increased, additional weavers were employed and the range of artisan products broadened. It became clear that this international partnership which supported economic development of Maya women in Guatemala needed to be formalized.

In 1996 a Board of Directors was established and MayaWorks was incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 corporation. The volume of sales generated enough income to pay artisans a fair market price for their products, generated on-going work for them, and created funding for special projects.

Today MayaWorks partners with over 125 artisans in six communities along the Central Highlands of Guatemala. We have two offices, one in Guatemala staffed by local women who work directly with the artisans and one in Chicago that distributes and markets the product. To date, artisans have received over $2 million in wages. Trainings have allowed the artisans to expand their skills and create new and more complicated products. Literacy classes provide the artisans with new found confidence as they learn to read and write in Spanish. Scholarships allow daughters of artisans to attend school and microcredit loans are available for artisans to create their own small businesses.

Our Story



Our First Video Produced Completely in Guatemala!

Learn about MayaWorks’ mission, the stories of our artisan partners and the impact volunteers and our customers make on the daily lives of our artisans and daughters.