After a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, in 2010 to learn about poverty in the slums, Kristen Welch founded Mercy House Global, a nonprofit organization supporting impoverished women around the world. Mercy House Global Market, located on FM 1488 in Magnolia, opened last fall as an extension of the organization.

Going global[/caption]

“When you shop at the Mercy House Global Market in Magnolia, 100 percent of that money is going to women to empower them,” Welch said.

The retail store offers fair-trade items, handmade by artisans from 26 countries, Welch said. The store includes high-end gift items, such as handcrafted shoes and leather bags, as well as a variety of small gift items costing less than $10.

“Everything has a story, so if you’re looking for a good gift, our staff can tell you the story behind the gift or the person who made it,” she said. “We create a fair-trade version of things that are trendy, and then we take that to the artisan groups [to produce].”

Welch said Mercy House Global stocks inventory from 52 artisan groups worldwide, including women in Africa, the Middle East, South America and the U.S. Every purchase from the Magnolia store funds the work of Mercy House Global in Kenya in addition to employing the women who make the products for sale, Welch said.

“When we’re able to provide work, we’re also providing dignity [to women in poverty],” she said.

The organization began with a focus on rescuing young mothers from dangerous environments before expanding to fair-trade production and retail three years ago as a means of poverty prevention, Welch said. Mercy House Global’s staff in Kenya operates two maternity homes and one transition home for young mothers and their children. Residents learn to make fair-trade products and receive health care, spiritual development and an education.

“When you shop at our stores, you’re literally helping women around the world,” Welch said.

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Mercy House Global Market
5814 FM 1488, Magnolia
Hours: Tue.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Sun.- Mon.