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.