Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes met with participants of IRI’s Creating Economic Growth to Strengthen Democracy project during her recent visit to Peru.  The project, which encourages disenfranchised groups to take full advantage of the market economy, provides courses on entrepreneurship, creation of business networks and corporate social responsibility to youth, women and minorities.  
Recognizing that economic development was paramount to helping democracy deliver, Hughes encouraged the creation of more such programs and praised the guests’ optimism and the country’s impressive economic environment.  She stressed that close economic ties with the U.S. will improve people’s lives in both countries.

Gerard Luque Stuart, who is a graphic and jewelry designer, talked with Hughes about his hopes to expand his business to foreign markets and thanked IRI for the opportunity to participate in the trainings.  On behalf of the entire group, Luque along Cecilia Ramirez presented Hughes with a pair of silver earrings and a ring that Luque designed.  
During the visit, Hughes met with Betsabe Ardiles Lopez who is 25 and the owner of a print shop; Cecilia Ramírez Arguedas, 33, a management professional and sales person; Frank Lazo Aguilar, 35, owns and manages a fast food shop; Gerard Luque Stuart, 35, a graphic designer and jewelry designer; Jorge Taype Mamani, 25, established a recycling shop and produces organic produce; Lourdes Salcedo Altamirano, 22, owns and manages a catering company; Saúl Mesner Zegarra, 23, a student and an independent sales person; and Vanessa Tapia Basurco, 28, owns and manages a farm.

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