Sharmila Khushalani Karamchandani, a native of Mumbai, India, said that her “life completely changed” after completing Empowered Women International’s (EWI) Entrepreneurship Training for Success (ETS) class. She learned how to promote herself and her work (jewelry and henna designs), and has since also become a professor of graphic design at the Art Institute of Washington. “[The program] has nurtured my soul. Really, as the name suggests, I feel empowered.” Sharmila pointed out EWI’s uniqueness: the opportunity to hone so many of her skills through one organization.
In today’s economy, loans and financial backing for entrepreneurial businesses are increasingly scarce – especially for women. For entrepreneurs with little or no training in how to run a business, just getting off the ground can be difficult. EWI offers students programs in entrepreneurship, multicultural arts, and financial empowerment, providing immigrant, refugee, and other women in need tools to create and market successful businesses in the arts and mentoring to make wise financial decisions.
Within the entrepreneurship program, the women have access to EWI’s ETS class, micro-enterprise program, and marketing coaching. These classes and seminars teach essential skills for successfully starting and running businesses without relying on loans and other forms of outside financial backing.
I participated in a social media marketing and promotion workshop offered by EWI. Around twelve media and communications students met with nine women to set up blogs, Facebook pages, and websites for their businesses. It was truly amazing to hear the creative ideas these women have and to see the opportunity they have to make their dreams a reality because of EWI. These inspiring women found a way to participate in and offer their unique talents to American society. EWI has many success stories from women who have already completed the program.
Mekbib and Meseret are husband-and-wife professional artists from Ethiopia. Not only did they learn the skills needed to grow a successful business through the business incubator program, but they continue to be supported by EWI by using its gallery space service to display and sell their art. Of selling art with EWI, Meseret said, “This was the first time we sold our work to customers in a professional business setting. That was the moment we really knew that we could make it here in America as artists.”
EWI’s support doesn’t end with the wonderful programs they offer. For those with an EWI membership (cost depends on household income and other financial factors), services available include free listing in EWI’s Online Member Directory, space to sell their goods, discounted advertising, and free coaching and consultation.
EWI strives to offer any woman the opportunity to support herself and become empowered, which means EWI often accepts half or even none of the tuition for their programs. Please help EWI continue their important work by sponsoring a student or just making a donation. You have the opportunity to change a woman’s life.
by Cara Gluck
Cara Gluck is a senior marketing communications major and business minor at Emerson College. Through The Washington Center, she is a marketing intern at Keppler Speakers. Cara chose EWI as her civic engagement project because she believed in the organization, and wanted to use her knowledge to help women succeed.