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Mark Your Calendars: EWI’s 1st Annual Holiday Gift Marketplace!

16 Oct

Sunday, November 24th
The Whittemore House
1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20036
(near Dupont Circle)

The event is not only a unique shopping experience for holiday gifts that support local women entrepreneurs and their businesses, but also a crowd-sourcing platform for engaging customers in providing ideas, connections and services to support local businesses. EWI’s goal is to harness the talents, creativity and networks of the Washington DC area residents and invest them in growing the local economy.

Gifts for Cause screen shot

Entrepreneurs will be marketing and selling hundreds of handmade gifts, fashion accessories, natural skin care products, games, fine art, home décor, baked goods, and specialty gift certificates.

nadia j
Artist Nadia Janjua will be there!

Guests will have the opportunity to meet 25 highly motivated women entrepreneurs and their micro-enterprises, hear their stories and understand their needs for growing these businesses. Guests will have the opportunity to contribute their ideas, services and contacts to help propel these start-ups forward.

All women entrepreneurs participating in this event have launched and grown their businesses with the help of EWI’s entrepreneur incubator, business coaching and mentoring programs.

We look forward to seeing  you there!

The Marketplace is co-sponsored with the Educational Foundation of WNDC.

Since 2002, EWI has helped more than 3,000 women rebuild their lives, establish careers and pursue the American Dream. Empowered Women International (EWI) is an award winning nonprofit organization that creates jobs and economic opportunity for immigrant, refugee, and low-income women in the Greater Washington DC Area. 

Save The Date for EWI’s 1st Annual Holiday Gift Marketplace!

7 Oct

Empowered Women International is excited to announce its 1st Annual Holiday Gift Marketplace on Sunday, November 24th from 11am-5pm at The Whittemore House, 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20036, near Dupont Circle.

There will be hundreds of unique handmade gifts, accessories, natural skin care products, games, fine art, home décor, baked goods, specialty gift certificates, and more, all created by EWI artisan entrepreneurs.

Gifts for Cause screen shot

This is our first public event showcasing top-notch women entrepreneurs who have launched and grown their businesses with the help of our entrepreneurship programs. You’ll meet the entrepreneurs, hear their stories, discover unique gifts for the upcoming holiday season and give the gift of empowerment with every purchase.

Mark your calendars! We look forward to seeing  you there.

My Day at the Alexandria DiverseCity Fest

27 Sep
Entrepreneur Julie ready for an empowering day!

Entrepreneur Julie ready for an empowering day!

On Saturday September 14, 2013 EWI had the privilege of participating in the Second Annual Alexandria DiverseCity Multicultural Fest in Arlandria, Virginia. This event was designed to bring community members together and celebrate Alexandria’s diversity. “Nearly a third of Alexandrians speak a language other than English at home,” said Debbie Hodnett, festival chair. “The city of Alexandria is proud to celebrate these diverse cultures by highlighting the variety of music, dance, crafts and cuisines that make Alexandria so vibrant.”

Amoy showcasing her beautiful jewelry
Amoy showcasing her beautiful jewelry

As the new Community Partnership Intern at EWI and it being my first event I was thrilled to be taking part in such a culturally diverse festival; however what is a cultural fest without the culturally diverse artists and entrepreneurs of EWI and their equally diverse artifacts? On this occasion we were fortunate to have four of our Alumni with us which included Charmelle Clark, Mariam Mohamed, Julie Hyo Park, and Amoy Stephen, as well as our wonderful volunteer Su Hlaing Win Nu, who helped me make this event possible. EWI was proud to be there to support our Alumni and I was equally excited to be able to promote more awareness in the community about EWI and its mission.

Mariam keeping busy

Mariam keeping busy

When I first got to the festival I was nervous about what the day ahead would bring. It being my first time at an event representing EWI there were times when I questioned if I had what it took to share with people what a great organization we truly are. But working alongside such wonderful women, hearing their stories, and seeing their passions, I immediately realized how far dreams can actually go when you have the right tools and the right people by your side. At that point I wanted to get up on stage and let the whole fest know about EWI, but I held back only because Melodica Oriental, the Salvadoran and Honduran band was playing such a catchy tune that many were dancing and giggling, and that only made me the more joyful to be there!

Peruvian drumming !

Peruvian drumming !

The day could not have been any better. I enjoyed sharing about EWI and I enjoyed going around Arlandria and posting flyers, dropping of postcards, and even using my bilingual skills to let many shop owners know about EWI. Many of these show owners were very interested in our organization and shared with me their own stories and struggles about starting their own businesses, many exclaimed how helpful and less stressful it would have been to have an organization like EWI by their side back then.I was happy the day ended on such a positive note and happy I was able to take part in such an event. After such a wonderful experience I felt only the more empowered to take on the next event and keep spreading the word in order to help more dreams and passions turn into realities.

Written by Tatiana Sandoval, Community Partnership Intern

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

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

New Items in Etsy Shop

30 Jul

Preview of EWI’s online shop

Want to see the stunning hand crafted  products of EWI’s current and former students? Visit EWI on Etsy Shop. Etsy Shop is an internet marketplace that connects artisans and small businesses to the wider community and creates a medium for them to pitch their stories. On this site, EWI students can directly sell their products to clientele, profiting more than 95% of their product’s price.

EWI has sold items for two years with proven results. More than eighty two orders have been filled accruing revenues amounting to over $3000. EWI’s Etsy Shop includes handcrafted jewelry, clothing, and more both bought and sold on behalf of our students. Posted with every item are EWI students’ unique stories including the story of Peruvian native Evelyn Brooks who uses South American huayruro seeds as a centerpiece in her pieces. To see fifteen of EWI’s new postings, please click on the following link: Empowered Women International Etsy Shop. Among these new handcrafted items are beautifully painted and culturally inspired silk scarves and cards and much more.

Etsy Shop was created to help communities “reimagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world.” Etsy Shop aligns nicely with EWI’s mission because of its global focus on sharing products and cultural stories from around the world.

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.”


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

Our First Kiva Zip Loan with Sushmita Mazumdar

24 Jul

Sushmita shows off her art

Meet 2007 ETS graduate Sushmita Mazumdar, EWI’s first Kiva Zip Loan borrower. Kiva Zip is an organization that creates opportunities for business owners and potential supporters to make financial assistance more affordable and accessible. Those that want to support business owners can contribute their resources and expect to get them back upon successful payment of the initial loan.

Sushmita left the advertising industry upon discovering her passion for hand crafted illustrative storybooks and uniting people from illustrious cultures around the world. When asked how she intended to teach people about cultures different from her own, Sushmita amicably responded, “You don’t have to be from the culture to help people learn about their heritage. You just have to help people appreciate and celebrate their differences.” Propelled by her desire to teach her son about his heritage, her country’s festivals, rituals, and history are brought to life through her story telling.

Two of her signatures include making books into objects and making words graphic. On display in her current workspace is “Looking for Presidents,” a book about an immigrant woman who has never taken an America class. Tied together by a U.S. flag concept, each element of the book has significance. Whether its Roosevelt’s conservationism prompting her to print the book on recycled paper or leaving empty pages for readers to tell their own stories, Sushmita makes books engaging and interactive.

Sushmita’s goal is to raise $5,000 to open her own Studio PAUSE. Here, individuals will have the space to be creative while exploring art and writing and celebrating community. Classes are designed to be affordable for diverse populations.  Local artists will have an outlet to communicate about their art as well.


Sushmita displays her story book

Sushmita has taken on numerous projects, including her work with the Refugee Youth Project and her “Tell Your Story Make Your Book” class series that she performs in schools, community centers, and the Smithsonian museums. We can also look forward to “Books Around the World,” a series that exposes children in the D.C. metropolitan area to book making and story sharing techniques from around the world.

Sushmita showed her immense gratitude for EWI explaining that without their support and  understanding of her complex identities as an immigrant and a mother, her dreams of opening her own business may not have come to fruition. We are truly enthused to support such an exceptional woman who has really exceled in her trade.

Are you excited about Sushmita’s goal to open her own studio? Help Sushmita get her Kiva Zip Loan by visiting Sushmita’s Kiva Zip Loan!

Thank you for your continued support of Empowered Women International.

By LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern

Briggs Chaney Community Day 2013

23 Jul

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

Written by Tess Stansbury, Non-Profit Management Intern