Exchange • Women tour Park Silly Sunday Market to shop for business ideas.
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Park City • Twenty-one women entrepreneurs from around the world mingled with thousands of people during the Park Silly Sunday Market, a street festival and open-air gathering of 160 vendors selling handcrafted wares, art and food.
But rather than browse through handmade skirts, the women focused on how the market's co-founder, Kimberly Kuehn, draws 10,000 visitors to each Sunday event.
"You start with your own community, and you write a business plan a boring business plan, preferably with a bottle of wine nearby," Kuehn explained to the laughing entrepreneurs brought to Utah as part of the U.S. State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program.
Lorna Aquino Volquez, of the Dominican Republic, saw the humor in getting through a detailed plan by means of an alcoholic beverage. But she immediately understood the importance of neighborhood markets where women in her country could sell handcrafted work.
"There's no outlet for them," she said of her female counterparts on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean region. "Women don't have opportunities to earn as much as men, get a loan or start their own business. You may have similar problems in the United States, but in my country the problems are much more stark."
Aquino is making her own way with Green Love, a recycling business in a nation that throws virtually everything away. Hers is a family-owned business that each month recycles tons of discarded materials, such as cardboard, plastic and cans. She's interested in meeting other entrepreneurs to share ideas and success strategies.
Arlinda Dudaj, CEO of Dudaj Publishing House in the southeastern European nation of Albania, said she is amazed at the resources offered in the United States to entrepreneurs hoping to start their own businesses, from start-up information to help in securing a loan. On a more personal note, she was struck by the many different cultures of people in the United States who live peacefully and get along.
"You are very fortunate," said Dudaj, who speaks Albanian, English, German and Spanish.
Women entrepreneurs from 19 nations were escorted by the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote global understanding. Each year the group welcomes nearly 500 emerging leaders from around the world to Utah for professional and cultural exchanges.
A typical international visit is about three weeks and includes visits to four U.S. cities.
This group also will be meeting with the Governor's Office of Economic Development, Salt Lake Community College, the Utah Small Business Administration and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. They leave Wednesday for Los Angeles.
Park Silly Sunday Market
Event • An open-air market and street festival
Location • Held on Park City's Historic Main Street
Hours • Every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Sept. 23
Cost • Free