EWI 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.
We 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.
One 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!
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.