Every now and then a panel comes along that manages to balance being inspirational with being substantive. Last week’s “Working Across Countries and Cultures: What It Means for Entrepreneurs ” was one of these panels.

Held November 14 at the Westport Plexpod as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week and in collaboration with KCSourceLink, the panel convened amazing people working in diverse entrepreneurial fields.

One panelist, Katie Petty, started her own business at the age of 12, an age when most of her peers’ entrepreneurial aspirations were barely graduated from lemonade stands and strategic lunch swaps. While still in middle school, she was meeting with representatives of large global businesses to build her product, a dog paw-washing tube, which would eventually grow to have overseas factories. She inspired the audience not just with how much she accomplished at such a young age, but also by her stories of overcoming adversity, such as when her warehouse flooded, causing her to lose $90,000 worth of product, which her insurance would not cover. In true entrepreneurial spirit, Katie continued undeterred, and is now in the process of expanding her brand (Wild Heart, LLC ĺČ) to include other animal-care products.

Another panelist, Ximena Pacheco, while having tremendous entrepreneurial experience of her own, humbly spoke of Unbound, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit where she currently works as a regional accountant. At Unbound, she works to finance projects around the world to help others realize their entrepreneurial capacities. Ximena spoke of how the support of people here in Kansas City and around the U.S. can directly influence the lives of families in some of the poorest countries in the world by removing barriers that would otherwise thwart economic growth and entrepreneurial activity.

The third panelist, Conner Hazelrigg, like Ximena, was also passionate about using entrepreneurship to meet global needs. Conner’s business, 1773 Innovation Company, creates “Sunshine Boxes,” which are solar-paneled phone chargers. The levels of entrepreneurship don’t stop with Conner, Conner then works with nonprofits in lower-income countries to get these Sunshine Boxes to local entrepreneurs who can take the box, traveling from village to village, to allow people to charge their cell phones for a small fee. The person transporting the boxes makes up to $1,000 a year from their business, and then the people in the villages are well-positioned to connect to the global and local economy through the servicing of their phones.

Moderated by Gary Logan, a seasoned cultural trainer with entrepreneurial experience of his own, the panel engaged in open and casual dialogue with the audience. From helping attendees to navigate the obstacles of choosing overseas partners, to explaining the nuts and bolts of getting started in international business, the information they provided was invaluable and left many people feeling excited and better-equipped to tackle the formidable task of initiating and sustaining a global enterprise.


About the Author
April Diaz is the program coordinator at the International Relations Council.