Navroze S. Mehta and his daughter, Sonali Mehta Rao—the co-founders of MyMela—named their online marketplace after the festive gathering of sellers and buyers common to an Indian town square. Though they envisioned the store as a means by which to empower India’s artisans and forge meaningful connections among people separated by geographies, Navroze recently told Forbes that their inspirations were also personal. “Growing up in India, I was surrounded by the beauty of handcrafted products for both decorative and everyday use,” he says, and Sonali’s internship experiences in India showed her how desperate the makers of those beautiful products had become. Through MyMela, they work together to build a bridge between India’s master craftsmen and America’s customers—one that harnesses the power of a global economy to benefit both sides.
When they purchase their one-of-a-kind necklaces, picture frames, rugs, and other artisanal items, customers can also choose to help fund MyMela loans, a program that supplies interest-free loans to artists who then use the capital to continue their work and increase their quality of life.