Archive | March, 2013

Welcome The New ETS Spring Class!

27 Mar

The New ETS Spring Class of Entrepreneurs!

On Saturday, March 23, Empowered Women International hosted a Meet & Greet, the first session of the Entrepreneurship Training for Success (ETS) class. ETS is a series of 23 classes, including business and financial literacy labs, a business plan pitch, and final graduation, which are a part of a three-month intensive entrepreneurship program.

The range of businesses in this class include arts, crafts, apparel, writing, publishing, jewelry, consulting, organizing, cleaning, film, translating, health, child care, cooking, sustainable housing, and irrigation systems.


Marga Fripp, President, discussing the finer points of the ETS program, with Sharmila Karamchandani, Lead Trainer, on the right.

The focus for the Meet & Greet session was on getting to know everyone, as well discuss the program itself, and on spiritual transformations as the beginning of the empowering process. Founder Marga Fripp shared a powerful TED Talk by Ric Elias, a passenger of Flight 1549: the plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River in New York in January 2009, at the beginning of afternoon session.


Following this video, the ETS students shared with the group their transforming moments, which got them to this point in their life and why they wanted to be a part of ETS. It is only when a person is ready to make a change in their life that they are really able to change and become empowered.  This time for self-reflection and introspection was a wonderful way for the women to bond together.


Mentor Marcela Kogan and ETS student Kira Washington


ETS students Charmelle Clark and Jane Mwinuka, Mentor Chris Ollis, and ETS student Cleopatra Magwaro

We are so excited to welcome the new class of entrepreneurs. Onward and Upward Spring ETS class!

By Sara Seavey, Monitoring & Evaluation Intern

Mentors Get Oriented to Spring

26 Mar

Spring is here, and our ETS Mentors are more than ready to jump-start the season with radiating enthusiasm and a sense of fulfillment as they look forward to sharing their knowledge and ideas with our new Spring ETS students. On Monday, March 18, our returning and new volunteer mentors got together to introduce themselves, discuss the program, and how to create an environment of support.


Deborah Blank, Mentor Coordinator, leads the orientation.

The orientation and discussion outlined some of the major components of the program, as well as the importance of building a community of mentors with an emphasis on networking, interacting, and empowering women to express their thoughts, ideas, and boosting their confidence. Along with training women to be business savvy, the focus will also be on supporting their creativity and pushing them to develop clarity with their products and services.

One of the most important lessons I learned from the discussion was how determined women, equipped with the right ideas and creativity, can uplift not just their selves and families but the entire community and nation. While the program will serve as a medium to discover their full potential with their business (with the extraordinary support of our mentors, trainers, and guest speakers), it motivates them to surpass any challenge along the way, and in turn, be more civically engaged.


Clementine Simmons (Mentor), Chris Ollis (Mentor), Eileen Kessler (Mentor), Alexandra Standal (Development Associate), Sharmila Karamchandani (Lead Trainer), Charlene Gatewood, Deborah Blank (Mentor Coordinator and Board Advisory), Mariam Mohamed (2012 ETS Graduate), and Marcela Kogan (Mentor)

Thank you to all our amazing mentors and the time and talents you’re giving to our new class of women entrepreneurs!

By Hanna Yamir, Program Associate Intern

Upcoming Featured Event – Spring 2 Action!

15 Mar

APRIL 17 – Get Ready for Spring2Action I One day online giving

Remember last year when we reached out to you nonstop for one day to help us raise funds to support our work? For a whole twenty-four hours on one day, the whole city of Alexandria sprung into action and gave and gave to all us charities… It was a great day. Because of you, our donors and supports and volunteers. You helped make EWI history.

We exceed our own goal in dollars raised and donors rallied. EWI placed 2nd with the most number of donors and 3rd place for the most dollars raised. We raised $24,000 in one day. ACT for Alexandria is taking us all to task again this year with their exceptional fundraising marathon, set for April 17th.

This year we’re raising the stakes because we believe in the power of your support, the power of our capacity, and the power of the women we support.

Are you ready? We ARE. Read more

EWI and Marga Fripp featured in Be Inkandescent

13 Mar

Hope Katz Gibbs

A heartfelt thank you to Hope Katz Gibbs, the publisher Be Inkandescent: The online magazine for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs.

In January 2010, founder and president Hope Katz Gibbs, a journalist since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communications in 1986, launched the e-publication to spread the word about the great entrepreneurial businesses and ideas her clients were spearheading.

The online magazine also offers useful tips to other entrepreneurs who are either new to the “work for yourself” world, or are looking to take their companies to the next level.

Read Marga’s Story on BeInkandescent’s Truly Amazing Women column.

We’d like to thank the ladies of Sip with Socialites!

12 Mar

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to the wonderful women behind Sip with Socialites for organizing a Spring benefit for EWI! The event will be this Thursday, March 14th from 7-10pm in Georgetown.

Founded in 2011, Sip With Socialites is a best friend to trendsetting professionals. In addition to their habit-forming blog, Sip With Socialites hosts monthly fundraisers for our pet charities and causes. Local DC celebs, scenesters, publicists, bloggers, politicos and philanthropists will be in attendance.

To find out more about the event and RSVP, visit their facebook page here!

We hope to see you there!


A Shout Out to our Friends at LEDC!

12 Mar

Over the past couple of months we’ve been conducting of our Entrepreneur Training for Success interviews at the Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) office in Wheaton, MD. LEDC is a community-based organization that works to advance low- to moderate-income Lations to financial independence and become leaders in their communities.

Rossana Espinoza, the office manager, has been especially wonderful! Originally from Bolivia, she says the best part of her job is the multi-cultural Latino community she is surrounded by. They all share a common language with all its variety of accents and a common love of food from all over South America.

Thank you Rossana and the entire team at LEDC for giving us the space on those Friday afternoons for interviewing women to our program.

EWI Women Holding up Half the Sky…

11 Mar

Dear Readers,

“Women hold up half the sky” the Chinese saying goes.

   Women also hold together our communities…

I see them in their actions as the keepers of our stories, celebrating our traditions, keeping our history alive and contributing to the cultural fabric of this nation.

   Women are at the forefront of our local economy…

Whether this means they own the corner flower shop or the small neighborhood bakery, or they teach kids in after school programs, women prove to be incredible innovators, problem solvers, and community leaders.

At EWI, we seek those women who might not have the resources needed to make ends meet, yet they have indomitable spirit, determination, and human potential.

We’ve learned that by making a direct investment in women through entrepreneurship, mentoring and support services, often in a time of challenge or opportunity in their lives, we set a new course for their future.

Seventeen women are now enrolled in our Spring Entrepreneur Training for Success.

The program starts on March 23 and is offered in two locations, in Alexandria, VA and Bethesda, MD.

A few more spaces are still available to an immigrant, refugee or a low-income woman ready to launch her micro-business. Scholarships are offered to low-income qualified applicants.

Know of someone who is in need of our assistance? Now is the time to send her our way!
Here is the link to our online application to pass along.

You are about to change someone’s life!

Thank you for all your support.

Onward and Upward!

EWI Sipping with Socialites on March 14th!

8 Mar

We’re thrilled and honored to be selected as the charity of the month by Sip with Socialites. Local DC celebs, scenesters, publicists, bloggers, politicos and philanthropists will be in attendance. Thank you Natalie Zajicova and Melissa Reitkopp for making this possible. Learn more!

EWI on the Road to Richmond!

7 Mar

mbl image 2EWI went on the road last week and ventured off to Richmond for the Micro-Business Lending Conference. Imagine a few carloads of empowered women, packed in with storytelling aprons, silk floral arrangements, Tanzanian cloth bags, gluten-free cupcakes, Egyptian spices and baklava, felt hats and pillows, and a stack of EWI promo material. Away we went! We had too much fun.

mbl image 3We also learned a great deal about the new world of micro-business lending — B-corporations, sustainable statewide efforts to build lo      cal micro businesses in rural areas, the local-investment movement, and more. It was an eye-opener to people and organizations doing innovative work to build local economies.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond gave us the floor to set up our Artisan Showcase, a opportunity to exhibit the diversity and creativity that exists in micro business. The women entrepreneurs all had a chance to briefly tell their stories, talk about their business, and how EWI helped them along the way.

mbl image 4One of the highlights was during the two-day event was the Kickstarter panel discussion with Marga Fripp and Lisa and Jim Jacenich. Both Lisa and Jim shared their newbie experience with Kickstarter and their amazing success! We were brought to tears by their endearing story of the people who they came in contact with while raising money to support their trip to Mongolia to help felt artists there. The homemade film was so delightful we wanted to give them our contributions right there, even though the campaign ended months ago. By the way, they made it to Mongolia and back. More stories ensued!

Mariam and Lizzie

Aida Clemmie small

Thank you to EWI Artisan & Food Entrepreneurs!
Velma Crawford, Apron Designer & Storyteller
Clementine Simons, Floral Arrangements
Mariam Mohamed, Handmade Tanzanian Bags
Lisa and Jim Jacenich, Felted Handmade Clothing and Accessories
Elizabeth Coker, Gluten-free Cupcakes
Aida Mady, Egyptian Cuisine

A gigantic thank you to Jen Giovannitti and Karen Huffman and the wonderful staff (and security team!) at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond for organizing an engaging and enlightening conference for everyone.

Maggio+Kattar Founder’s Day Benefit Honoring EWI

5 Mar

The benefit will highlight the work of
EWI graduates in the fields of the culinary arts,
fine arts, and music including:
Egyptian cuisine catered by Aida Mady
Fine art by Nadia Janjua
A global artisan marketplace