our story

We all want the same things – health, something to believe in, prosperity, to belong, and a better future for ourselves and for our children. AND EVERYONE HAS A STORY TO TELL. The most effective way to solve the root causes of poverty and inequality, and to support everyone’s right to dignity and agency, is to provide opportunity. This is how Malena began. We are a global community that shares these stories, connecting you with people around the world through the goods they create, the stories of how they came to create them, and ideas about how our partners’ work gives them a chance for a brighter future.

We partner groups of people who have come together, often overcoming enormous odds, and who create beautiful designs and EMPOWER THEIR ARTISANS ECONOMICALLY. Malena supports these groups and individuals through growing their commercial enterprises, giving them a global market for their goods, and sharing their skills, their craft, and their stories with you. In investing in them and their work, we are investing in a better future for them, and for us all.




Flynn is an international human rights lawyer and social entrepreneur. Her background is in human rights, international trade law, war crimes, political reconciliation, and improving access to justice through education.

While living and studying in Chile, she also worked with a women’s cooperative, helping to create an international market for their “arpilleras,” tapestries that depicted the era of dictatorship and allowed a group of women to come together to heal as a community, create beautiful goods rooted in cultural traditions, and learn business and leadership skills. When Flynn brought these arpilleras to the US, and shared their story, they were immediately embraced by people enthusiastic about the gorgeous designs and the way to support these artists.

These experiences, along with having conversations with people around the world, have formed Flynn’s belief that we can have a positive impact on people’s well-being by amplifying their economic agency, so that they can make their own choices about their lives. That may mean advocating for trade policy changes, breaking down barriers for underserved communities, utilizing technology to empower people, upholding an artistic tradition passed down from generations, or bringing goods to new markets so that community members can better afford healthcare and education for their children, so those children can go on to choose among yet more opportunities.

Investing in people and their creative and entrepreneurial endeavors, so they can become economically independent, is the foundation for Malena.


Virginia Lucas Hart, Tracy Swift, Betty Krenek, Kristen Hilkert, Kiki Royaards, Patty Kirby,
Eskinder Fasil, Jean de Dieu Byukusenge, Cydney Puro, Shanti Wilson, Vrnda Dalal, Megan Fisher, Jen Carlomagno, Susan Mbabazi, Genevieve Casey, John Garnett, Jorge de Leòn, Traynor Downey, Melissa de Mata

“malena” comes from the
mapuche (indigenous chilean) word for “girl.”