Archive | August, 2013

Help Odirsa Reach Her Goal!

30 Aug

Odirsa Argueta

El Salvadorian immigrant, mother, and Spring 2013 ETS graduate Odirsa Argueta has recently applied for the Kiva Zip Loan to gain the licensing and tools needed to run her business. Kiva Zip creates opportunities for business owners and potential supporters to make financial assistance more affordable and accessible. Supporters of these business owners donate their resources and are repaid upon successful payment of the initial loan.

After spending a considerable amount of time in the construction business, Odirsa fantasized about the day she would not only run her own business but also serve as a more positive role model for her family. An immigrant to this country, Ordisa wanted to show her children that with a lot of hard work and clearly defined goals they could accomplish their dreams. She also wanted to provide her family with job security, financial stability, and independence. Through business ownership, she understood the possibilities were endless.

Through Kiva Zip, her loan has already been 81% funded!  Only $910 more needs to be raised to reach her goal. Are you eager to help Odirsa succeed?

Click here to make her dreams a reality!

She has described the Kiva Zip loan process as being self assuring and invigorating. Odirsa has taken a leap of faith into a male dominated industry. Her new founded company JR Irrigation & Lighting Company  will offer services like no other. She will work exclusively with clients, both residential and commercial, to provide  consultations and plan their ideal landscaping ideas. She also prides herself on using only the finest products in her projects.


Odirsa pitches business plan to peers

With encouragement and positive feedback from previous clients, Odirsa is excited for the opportunity to provide quality and customer oriented service while inspiring others like her to challenge themselves to venture outside of their comfort zones. She advises other women that opening their own business “won’t be easy but the effort is worth it; you need to have persistence,” and assures them that “it takes time but they can make it happen.”

Odirsa is immensely grateful for EWI sharing their indispensable resources with her. With their guidance and support, she realizes that she will soon achieve her long awaited goal of being a business owner. EWI is gracious to have had the opportunity to build a strong relationship with such a remarkable woman and wishes her much success!

By LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern

Thank you, Tess!

28 Aug

Tess at an outreach event

Tess Stansbury came to EWI as our NonProfit Management Intern this past summer. Not only was she a delightful person to be around, she was a star in everything she did – a quick learner, took initiative, and highly detailed and organized. She came to EWI with an interest to learn more about non-profits, how they work, and to get behind the scenes. It was actually after reading the book Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, that sparked Tess’s interest in women’s empowerment and the crucial part women play in the progress of the world. She felt by being an intern at EWI she would see the reality of that come into play. And she did. Tess made a tremendous impact while she was here, in so many tangible and intangible ways. She returns to West Virginia University to finish her degree in International Development and Latin American Studies, to continue to learn how to change the world.

We asked her to write something about her story and what her internship experience was like at EWI.

“I purposefully turned down my usual summer job last spring to dedicate this summer before my senior year of undergrad to prepare for a career. I wanted to find an internship that had something to do with what I was studying, International Development. Empowered Women International popped up in my Google search in late May, when I was scrambling to find the right place to work this summer. And it was fate.

EWI has been an absolute perfect fit. I have gained so much experience, met so many talented and strong individuals that invigorate me to accomplish my goals in life. EWI gave me a chance to learn and grow as a person while I helped the organization achieve its goals.

I was fortunate to work directly with EWI founder Marga Fripp and see the passion she has for what she does. She instilled in me the knowledge of what ‘drive’ is and how essential it is to a grassroots organization. I was able to learn the ins and outs of what it takes to manage and develop a non-profit, and why it takes special individuals to do so. It is hard, dedicated work, to put it simply.


Tess with EWI staff and board

I would like to work in the non-profit sector after I graduate and this internship has given me the tools to do so. I was lucky to work with caring and intelligent people that help make Empowered Women International what it is, and believe in its mission to give immigrant, refugee, and low-income women the opportunity to learn how to launch their own business and become self-sufficient. I have to thank Alexia and Mary for being great role models in the office, helping me complete tasks, answering my questions, and having such positive and loving attitudes.

I will certainly be back to volunteer when I can and hope I have made a small impact on such an important organization. The passion of EWI’s graduates, staff, and volunteers has no end and I expect only great things in the near future as it continues to empower women and change lives.”

All the Best!


Want to learn the ins-and-outs of a non-profit organization? EWI’s intern positions are all hands-on opportunities for someone who is a self-starter, willing to learn fast, eager to give back and able to commit and get things done. We need you! Check out our listings on Idealist for Non-Profit Management, Program Associate, and Marketing & Communications intern positions. 

Sushmita Opens StudioPAUSE!

27 Aug

Sushmita poses next to her art

Sushmita Mazumdar, writer, book artist, educator and ETS 2008 graduate, is opening her new studio, StudioPAUSE, thanks to her recently funded Kiva Zip loan from supporters like you!  StudioPAUSE was created to provide a safe space for local artists and clients to engage in creative projects while expressing their own personal stories and challenging their own presumptions through art.

Sushmita described the process of applying for her loan to be exhilarating and empowering. People from all over the world were invested in her idea which gave her the boosted self esteem to really stand behind her business. “For the first time in my life I feel like a real business woman. I’m not just an artist working out of my basement anymore,” exclaimed Sushmita when asked how it felt to own her own studio. She is solely responsible for obtaining signage, contacting insurance companies, and other tasks crucial to running a sustainable business and to her that is truly incredible. While a little anxious about the outcome of the loan, she encouraged other women with similar goals to not let that fear stop them from trying.


Sushmita’s art, books, and paintings are moving to a much needed bigger space!

Sushmita will be holding two open houses under the theme of “Black and White and ….” for the Grand Opening on Saturday, September 14 (4-7pm) and her first CommunityPAUSE event on Saturday, September 21, (4-7pm). The new studio is located in South Arlington near I-395 and S. Glebe Road.

There will be fun activities, engaging presentations, and even more entertaining shows. These events are designed to give attendees an idea of how the space will be used, what type of projects will be offered, and much more! Attendees are encouraged to bring an item related to the theme for an exciting demonstration led by Sushmita.


“PEACE” folded book

Look out! Sushmita may be coming to a neighborhood near you. In the future, she intends to bring art to communities with limited resources. College campuses and the downtown corporate areas can expect to see Sushmita driving around with her ingenious ideas and even brighter personality.

Thank you for all of your support in helping Sushmita’s innovative idea come to fruition. EWI is thrilled to be a trustee of Kiva Zip so we can help women entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses. To learn more about Sushmita’s work visit Handmade Storybooks and her new studio StudioPAUSE.

See you at the open house!

Written by LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern

Be a Heroine! Become a Mentor!

22 Aug

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

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.


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

We look forward to hearing from you!

Written by LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern

Apply Now for EWI’s Business Training Course!

20 Aug

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.


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

We look forward to hearing from you!

Written by LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern

Nishat Launches New Catering Website

14 Aug

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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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

We look forward to hearing from you!

Written by LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern

EWI Opens New Maryland Office

2 Aug

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.


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!


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