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Flowers of Clementine

17 Sep

Mother, grandmother, and 2012 Entrepreneur Training for Success (ETS) graduate Clementine Simmons spent numerous years dedicating her IT services to the federal government. During this time, she also began to dedicate some time in fashioning floral designs and realized she was astoundingly gifted in it!

She took her talents to market, selling her works at craft shows and churches and to private individuals. With her success, she enrolled in the ETS program where, with the help of mentors and staff, she steadily improved her business structure and focused on reconstructing her brand.

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Clementine stands near floral arrangement

Through the recommendation of a close friend, Clementine sought out EWI for support and motivation. Clementine knew that this would be a great opportunity to become more business savvy and give her old business a fresh start, especially with a gang of EWI cheerleaders rooting for her every step of the way. She needed help developing a business plan and determining her target market, and EWI had the tools for her to do just that.

Clementine knows from experience that sometimes the most difficult aspect of building your own business is that inner voice of doubt. She stressed that regardless of any shortcomings or challenges faced during your journey, people in her shoes must not give up on themselves. She even stated that, “You should continue to press forward and improve on yourself as well as the product you are selling. Believe that as you press on and the right doors will open for you.”

Beautiful addition to the entryway!

Clementine delivers one her custom floral designs to Deborah Blank.

This epiphany is ultimately the reason she enrolled in the Grow My Business program. Clementine saw this course as another stepping-stone to success. In this program, she is placed in the position to challenge herself to expand her networks and forge partnerships with fellow business owners. She is also able to get advice and expertise from like-minded individuals.

Interested to find out how you can turn your talents into a business?

Applications for Fall 2013 ETS term are being accepted now! Classes are held in Alexandria, Virginia and Wheaton, Maryland starting October 21.  Openings still available for our Alexandria class. Scholarships are also available for qualified low-income applicants. For more information, click here to find out more and apply. You can also contact our office at 571-312-4781 and speak with Alexia Muchisu Wendel, Entrepreneurship Program Manager, or email her at alexia@ewint.org.

Written by LaNesha Kearse, Social Media Writer

Be a Heroine! Become a Mentor!

22 Aug
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2013 Spring ETS Mentor Orientation

Ser un héroe hoy! Be a heroine today! Join the ranks of other stellar mentors who have accompanied the women entrepreneurs of Empowered Women International (EWI) on their journey to pursue their dreams. We are an organization that channels the entrepreneurial drive and creative talents of immigrant, refugee, and low-income women, and mentors are vital to the success of our women entrepreneurs.

Be inspired working alongside women who have refused to let adversity define or limit them. Our mentors find Entrepreneur Training for Success (ETS) mentoring program extremely rewarding and a mutually beneficial commitment for them and the women they mentor. Many particularly relish the opportunity to learn about the extraordinary cultural stories of the women enrolled in the program. And many mentors discover unlocked talents and hidden strengths from within themselves!

What does it take to become a mentor?

  • Pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit
  • Demonstrated success in business and/or leadership
  • Passion for empowering women entrepreneurs
  • Cultural competency, empathy, and good mentoring abilities
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Mentor Deborah Blank discusses business plan with student

ETS is an intensive three-month business start-up training program that prepares underrepresented women to launch and grow their own micro businesses, through entrepreneurship training, mentorship, and business support services. We are particularly encouraging bilingual or conversational Spanish speakers to apply! Classes are offered in Alexandria, VA and Wheaton, MD and start in mid October to early February.

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2013 Spring ETS mentors, staff, and former student pose for photo (Listed from left to right Clementine Simmons, Christine Ollis, Eileen Kessler, Alexandra Standal, Charlene Gatewood, Deborah Blank, Mariam Mohamed, Marcela Kogen, and Hanna Yamir)

Excited about this opportunity? Click the links to read testimonials from former ETS mentors here: Marcela Kogan, Howard Feinstein and Christine Ollis, & Deborah Bank, Charlene Gatewood, and Clementine Simmons.

If you want to make a difference in the lives of women who strive to persevere, visit EWI’s Become a Mentor Page or call Mary Louise Marino, Outreach & Operations Manager, at 571-312-4781 or email her at mary@ewint.org.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Written by LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern

Apply Now for EWI’s Business Training Course!

20 Aug
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Tenisha Campbell and Jane Mwinuku, Spring 2013 ETS graduates.

Have a business concept that you need help getting off the ground? Want to channel  and transform your talents into a sustainable, income-generating business? Don’t have the tools or know where to start?

Empowered Women International (EWI), an organization that channels the entrepreneurial drive and creative talents of immigrant, refugee, and low-income women, may have just what you need! Join the long-standing legacy of women who have enrolled in EWI’s Entrepreneur Training For Success (ETS) course.

ETS is an intensive three-month business start-up training program that helps prepare women like you to launch and grow their own micro businesses, through entrepreneurship training, mentorship, and business support services. Here, women receive individualized support from successful mentors and experts in their respective fields. They also have the opportunity to build life-long relationships and strong friendships with women with similar backgrounds while sharing their unique stories in a positive and encouraging atmosphere.

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ETS students discuss their businesses

Applications for Fall 2013 ETS term are being accepted now! Classes are held in Alexandria, Virginia and Wheaton, Maryland starting in mid October.  Scholarships are also available for qualified low-income applicants. For more information, click here to find out more and apply. You can also contact our office at 571-312-4781 and speak with Alexia Muchisu Wendel, Entrepreneurship Program Manager, or email her at alexia@ewint.org.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Written by LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern

Nishat Launches New Catering Website

14 Aug
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EWI Founder Marga and Nishat pose for photo

Meet Spring 2013 Entrepreneurship Training for Success (ETS) graduate Nishat Siddiqui. Nishat has turned her passion for cooking into a business. With thirty years of cooking experience under her belt, Nishat is sharing her family’s traditional and original Pakistani and Indian recipes. Nishat is really passionate about cooking and loves that the people she cooks for not only enjoy her food but also appreciate her hard work and effort. Prompted by her husband’s own health issues, she is now focusing her energies on using all natural ingredients in her scrumptious concoctions and providing services for her customers during the holiday seasons.

Even when faced with limited ingredients and strong dietary constraints Nishat still manages to create delectable recipes from scratch. Her private cooking lessons includes a three course meal with a dessert and wine. Coupled with a consultation, Nishat buys all of the groceries and brings them and instruction for families to enjoy.

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Nishat’s yummy Butter Prawns

Persuaded by the family-like nature of the program, Nishat dove head first into building her business plan to propel herself into the cooking industry and through the  ETS program. She was amazed by the dynamics of the program. Not only was the instruction extremely easy to follow, she felt very supported by readily available EWI staff, coaches, students, and mentors. “It’s kind of like being in a large family and I’m really happy and really thrilled that I joined EWI.”

She has recently enrolled in the Grow My Business (GMB) course seeing this new program as a great opportunity to continue networking with experts in her industry and receive stable support in the management of her business. She also mentioned how helpful her support has been from people, like Empowered Women International staff member Alexia Muchisu Wendel, who also have a background in the food industry in really helping her polish her brand.

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Nishat prepares a homemade dish

You can now learn more about her business by visiting her new website Nishat’s Kitchen or liking her Facebook page Nishat’s Kitchen Facebook Page. Have a special occasion or holiday gathering coming up? Not only can you see a preview of her delightful dishes you can also book her catering services and private cooking lessons!

Do you want to know more about our entrepreneurship programs? The Fall 2013 Entrepreneurship Training for Success (ETS) starts in mid October and we’re currently accepting applications. Click here to find out more and apply. You can also contact our office at 571-312-4781 and speak with Alexia Muchisu Wendel, Entrepreneurship Program Manager or email her at alexia@ewint.org.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Written by LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern

Paulette Mpouma, Following Her Passion

13 Aug

Meet Spring 2011 ETS alumni Paulette Mpouma. Paulette entered into the program with global ambitions following the invention of her African board game. Already successfully selling board games, Paulette needed organizational direction and the support of other exceptional women with similar hardships. She viewed ETS as an excellent opportunity for her to track her progress and meet influential and decisive people.

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Paulette and County Executive Ike Leggett pose for photo

Moved by her desire to educate people around the world, especially her children, about the marvels of Africa, she created a game to provide the safe space for individuals to engage in healthy dialogues about controversial topics such as race and world economies. But first and foremost, this board game was intended to help expel many of the misinformed and harmful stereotypes that so many in the Western world seem to have about Africa. Noticing that school curriculums in America were devoid of diverse perspectives and voices, Paulette created a game to make learning about Africa informative, empowering, and fun.

Paulette stumbled into EWI following her exhaustive search for a women’s support group. She craved an atmosphere that encouraged the building of strong relationships amongst like-minded women, emphasized the significance of cross-cultural competency, and understood the unique experiences of women living in a foreign culture.

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Paulette’s Afrique’enjeux board game

Now that she has successfully infiltrated international markets selling over 4000 board games worldwide, she is ready to take the next big step in her entrepreneurial career. Not only has she been working tirelessly to modify her existing products and introduce her new line of African inspired dolls to stores, she has enrolled in EWI’s new Grow My Business (GMB) course. She sees GMB as an opportunity to collaborate more effectively with experts who can help her focus her talents on the distribution, managing, and marketing aspects of her business. She is also extremely grateful to have a program that supports women beyond the developmental stages of their business; a program that will provide her with the knowledge on how to manage her time and resources more efficiently for her clients’ satisfaction.

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Paulette showcases her dolls

When asked what advice she would give to inspiring business owners like her, she stated “When you choose your product you have to have a passion for what you’re doing. You have to be convinced by your own product because then and only then can you fight for it.” She emphasized the need to create something fulfilling a personal passion and a societal need and discussed how ETS and GMB can help phenomenal women like herself do just that.

Support Paulette’s Test Your Africa IQ campaign! Help bring her learning tool to schools and global communities. A portion of the proceeds will go to funding the Children Diabetic Center in Yaounde, Cameroon! Visit Test Your Africa IQ Campaign now to learn more!

Want to know more about our entrepreneurship programs? The Fall 2013 Entrepreneurship Training for Success (ETS) starts in mid October and we’re currently accepting applications. Click here to find out more and apply. You can also contact our office at 571-312-4781 and speak with Alexia Muchisu Wendel, Entrepreneurship Program Manager or email her at alexia@ewint.org.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Written by LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern

EWI Opens New Maryland Office

2 Aug
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Alexia and Tess poss for picture in new office

EWI has a physical second office location in Montgomery County, Maryland! The new office is operated by our partner, the Gilchrist Center, and is strategically placed to expand awareness of EWI and its services and collaborate with like–minded organizations.

Located on the first floor of Wheaton Library, EWI is excited to have another location to recruit future Entrepreneur Training for Success (ETS) and Grow My Business (GMB) program participants, garner more support for EWI’s mission, and serve as a face in another community in the D.C. metropolitan area. This office location will also more conveniently serve current and future EWI students and alumni who do not live near our Alexandria office.

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Doorway to new EWI office

Alexia Muchisu Wendel and EWI volunteers have worked tirelessly to organize the space to make it fully functional and conduct meetings with prospective partners, clients, and county entities. With the help of Montgomery County Executive, EWI has raised half of its $50,000 expenses through grants and intends to continue raising funds to support a full year of programming to service talented low income, immigrant, and refugee women in Montgomery county. Office hours will be held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursday from 9:30 am to 5:00pm so please stop by!

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EWI’s new office

We are extremely grateful to the Gilcrist Center and Montgomery County for helping us obtain this new space and look forward to welcoming our supporters into the space at a tentative date in September of this year.

Thank you for your continued support of Empowered Women International.

By LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern

EWI participates in Women and Wine

30 Jul

On Wednesday July 17th, EWI participated in the Women and Wine of Alexandria event in Alexandria, Virginia. Women and Wine is an organization that facilitates meetings with the larger community to discuss various contributions of local women to their communities over wine tasting. This event afforded EWI the opportunity to socialize, network with, and recruit like minded women to their Business Corps Volunteer Team.

Women from different arrays of businesses,  got together for a fun evening of networking amongst themselves as well as with a charity that serves the Alexandria area. EWI was the charity of their choice this month.  Recent alumna Charmelle Clark was able to showcase her work, network with potential clients and partners, and share her personal experience in the EWI program. For EWI’s Community Partnerships intern Virlen Reyes the experience was eye opening. “It really showed how versatile an individual becomes after putting our (EWI’s) skill set and life skills model into practice.”

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Charmelle showcases her work

EWI Staff member Alexia Muchisu Wendel expressed satisfaction in seeing how, empowered, confident and successful of one of the  Entrepreneurs for Success graduate, Charmelle was at networking, presenting her business and selling her products at this event.  EWI is extremely thankful for their alumni’s investment in the program even after graduation. Their testimonial truly highlights the powerful and positive ways in which EWI has impacted their lives and ours.

EWI had an amazing experience at Women and Wine of Alexandria event and looks forward to participating in future events hosted by this organization.

Thank you for supporting Empowered Women International.

By LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern

Briggs Chaney Community Day 2013

23 Jul
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Paulette Mpouma displays her products

On Saturday July 13th, EWI had the privilege of participating in the Second Annual Briggs Chaney Community Day Event in Silver Spring, Maryland. This event catered to vendors and non profit organizations allowing them to showcase their services, products, and public contributions. The event created numerous opportunities for community cohesiveness by stimulating future partnerships, broadening networks, and inviting local businesses and the community to come together to speak about pressing issues.

Community Partnership Intern Virlen Reyes was grateful to see open dialogues about the challenges faced by refugees trying to reconstruct their lives in the United States and how the future of services provided for them by the government, local vendors, and non profit organizations may look. Virlen noticed how dedicated the county government was to the commitment of being present in the community as well as providing better services. Of course this event wouldn’t be complete without some EWI Alumni, Paulette Mpouma and Mariam Mohammed were on hand to sell their products, share their personal stories and their EWI stories. “This event was really impressive. It really gave me an appreciation of the organization (EWI) and how they help students market their businesses.”

EWI is delighted to be a part of such a great event that emphasizes community outreach and hopes to continue their participation with this event in the future.

Thank you for your continued support of Empowered Women International.

By LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern

The EWI Writers Group is here!

11 Jul

“And for me, the unexpected is always the best. With it comes unlimited opportunity to grow, learn, and live. I am invigorated and the words flow.”

dicey_amoy_sushmitawritersgroupThat was written during the warm-up exercise at Tuesday evening’s inaugural meeting of EWI’s Writers Group. The Writers Group is a program organized by EWI Mentor and Board Member  Howard Feinstein, although it has been made clear that the group has no one in particular in charge and will be self-run. It was formed in order to invigorate the EWI community and create a space for all the talented and passionate writers that help make up EWI. It is for those wanting to be in the company of other writers, learn more about both the art and business of writing, and engage with other members of the ‘Empowered’ family.  The group is run by the people in it and will include discussions and teachings of a variety of topics to be decided upon by the group. This will include concepts such as free-writing, self-publishing, and incorporating story-telling and individual cultures into writing.

EWI’s founder, Marga Fripp was present at the meeting and gave the welcoming address. She touched upon her personal background in writing; a journalist and producer in Romania, she wrote pieces on women’s rights among other topics. She read one of her own stories entitled “The Brink of the River” to kick off the meeting.

IMG_0014The members discussed why they wrote, what began their experience with writing, and what they hoped to get out of the group. They emphasized the fact that every writer is different and each person has their own story to tell, so encouragement and positive energy is key. In a group with such a large range of cultures and languages, as is the essence of EWI, this became an important point of the night. The group hopes to provide support for each member’s unique writing style, story, and encourage one another to grow in all areas of life.

The EWI Writers Group will plan to meet once a month and will include an online component.

If you are a member of EWI and would like more information about the Writers Group please contact Alexia at alexia@ewint.org.

Written by Tess Stansbury, Non-Profit Management Intern

Make a Loan to EWI’s first Borrower!

9 Jul

We are excited to announce that EWI has recently endorsed its first borrower, our very own ETS graudate, Sushmita Muzumdar. Sushmita is raising a loan of $5,000 through Kiva Zip to rent a studio space, what will be known as Studio PAUSE, where she can teach everyday people to get creative exploring art, writing, and celebrating community.

Loan Sushmita $25 now, and help her open a studio!

Kiva Zip is an experimental site, launched by Kiva, that enables you to make direct loans to entrepreneurs in Kenya and the United States. You can make a loan today for as little as $5. Over time, as your loan is repaid, you get your money back, and you can then withdraw it, or relend it to another entrepreneur.

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Sushmita holding up one of her homemade story books

Empowered Women International is excited to take part n this new endeavor that has the potential to grow and promote the businesses of our empowered women graduates. EWI  has become a Trustee on the site and will support the borrowers that we believe in.

All the best to Sushmita and Studio PAUSE. EWI is very proud of what she is accomplishing and how she is using her talents to better the community around her. We hope to endorse more empowered women in the future and use this this innovative resource to further our goal of transforming lives and promoting women-owned businesses.

Written by Tess Stansbury, Non-Profit Management Intern

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