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Good Things Come to Those Who…Come Early!

15 Nov

IMG_0095evelynCome early to EWI’s 1st Annual Holiday Gift Marketplace on Sunday, November 24, 2013 at The Whittemore House, from 11AM-5PM. First 100 guests will receive one of Evelyn Brook’s special Peruvian seed charms at the door!

What makes these little seeds so special? Why not join us on Sunday with a friend, or two, and find out for yourself! You won’t regret it!

To learn more about Evelyn Brooks please visit,

To find out more about the marketplace please visit us at

Look Who’ll Be at the Holiday Gift Marketplace!

6 Nov

The marketplace is a unique shopping experience for holiday gifts and  a crowd-sourcing platform for engaging customers in providing ideas, connections and services that support local businesses.

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

Mariam Mohamed
Bahari Creations

Miriam Mohamed

Miriam Mohamed

Tanzania native Mariam came to the U.S. with an independent and creative spirit.  She married her textile experience with her creative hunger to create handbags made from the East African fabric, kanga.  The handbags are as versatile and beautiful as the cloth they are made from.   In order for Mariam’s handbag business to prosper, she needs the expertise of a business minded individual like yourself, who would know how to help her copyright her designs and ideas.  Surely, someone knows a good supplier from whom she can purchase zippersScreen shot 2013-10-31 at 4.55.19 PM and closures.  Last, but not least Miriam could use a good marketing expert to help her package her handbags and sell them to boutiques and yoga studios.  EWI’s 1st annual holiday market is a great place to meet Miriam, see her lovely handbags and help her take her business to the next level.

Dinelles Sakyi


Dinelles Sayki

Dinelles inspiration for UnFORgettables came from sheer boredom during a pregnancy bed rest.  She created a diaper cake for her baby shower which resulted in others requesting her fun and lovely gift packages. Dinelles went on to expand her creativity for gift design to include holiday gift baskets

Screen shot 2013-10-31 at 5.12.09 PMand  towel cakes.  UnFORgettables could soar to new heights if she could get assistance with setting up a website, serious investors and a solid business coach to build her entrepreneurial confidence.  Why don’t you stop by the EWI 1st annual holiday gift market to help lift Dinelles to new heights!


Michele Black & Kathy Kemerait
Mountain Bird Designs


Kathy Kemerait


Michele Black

An artistic duo on a mission to create with a purpose!  Meet Kathy and Michele,  two talented women who have put their ideas into action by collaborating with a fair pay textile manufacturer and are committed to partnering with eco-friendly American manufacturers in order to bring textile jobs back to Appalachia.   Using various mediums, to include textiles, beads, paper and clay, their art brings the simplest items to life. From their signature women’s business handbag to the holiday gift market promotional materials, their ability to artistically capture the true essence of womanhood is beyond amazing.  Though, what good is such rich and Screen shot 2013-10-31 at 5.15.25 PMincredible talent if it can’t be shared with the world?  Your connections to investors, high profile contacts and solid textile industry experience are where their art and your business savvy collides.   Let’s make Kathy and Michele’s artistic endeavors a successful business at EWI’s1st annual holiday gift market.

Free Admission

Let us know you’ll be there and RSVP NOW!

Written by Ciara Salg, 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

Celebrating World Refugee Day with the IRC !

27 Jun

One of the art displays at the IRC event recognizing the influence of how many refugees live in the United States to date

It was a great honor for EWI to be invited to this year’s World Refugee Day Celebration hosted by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) at the Silver Spring Civic Building this past Tuesday. The day consisted of celebrating the worldwide and nationwide goal of increasing advocacy for refugee survivors who seek to succeed in creating a better life. “Celebrating Resilience”  was the motto for the event, commending all efforts in the refugee cause. What better way to hear and see this than from the local refugee community through entertainment, demonstrations, arts and crafts, community information tables and art exhibitions. It was truly enlightening to see such determination, preference, and hope.

Hand-crafted art and jewelry made by participants of IRC

Hand-crafted art and jewelry made by participants of IRC

The IRC creates opportunities for refugees to prosper in America. Every year thousands of refugees are encouraged by the U.S. government through agencies like the IRC to effectively learn how to navigate in a new country and resettle. Many have created new livelihood against many challenging odds. At the IRC’s Suburban Washington Resettlement Center in Silver Spring, they help refugees rebuild their lives through critical assistance programs that focus on new life skills and experiences to rebuild their self pride. This event honored the courage and strength of the many women, men, and children who are have been forced to flee their country under threat of persecution or violence. It was through numerous interpretive and interactive presentations that showed the life of a refugee individual. As each IRC participant shared his or her personal story, powerful applause followed.

Some of the beautiful items sold to benefit the National World Refugee Fund

Some of the beautiful items sold to benefit the  World Refugee Fund

Our team was highly inspired and have great admiration for anyone who is new to this country, who discovers ways to integrate to a new home, and through perseverance and passion finds ways to thrive here. It’s a mission close to our hearts! 

We would like to give a special thanks and gratitude to the IRC for inviting us to their World Refugee Day event. Also, thank you to Julie Hyo Park, our recent spring graduate and artisan entrepreneur for participating with us at our EWI outreach table to lead the crafts demonstration!

It was such an amazing experience!

Written By Virlen Reyes, EWI Community Partnership Intern

Thank You Woman’s National Democratic Club for Your Support!

3 Jun

When people think about social change, many envision political revolution, a mass social movement, grass-roots mobilization or anything that’s done grandiosely.

Social change can have many features, and one of them is simply envisioning a world where women: moms, wives, daughters and sisters come together to transform themselves and their surroundings with a gentle touch of creativity, talent, and skills.

The theme behind Marga Fripps’ presentation Empowering Women and Creating Social Change Through Entrepreneurship at the Women’s National Democratic Club was primarily about nurturing the creative skills of women who for a long time have felt powerless and disoriented in a world that’s been engorged by mass-production and loss of the unique items or small services.

Marga presenting "Empowering Women and Creating Social Change through Entrepreneurship"

Marga presenting “Empowering Women and Creating Social Change through Entrepreneurship”

Many women who come to the US  looking for ways to fulfill their American Dream, often stumble head over heels with the reality of unemployment and language barrier. The education they acquired or skills they have developed in their respective countries are often unmatchable with the entrenched systems here  and thus become either disillusioned or discouraged. EWI understands these challenges because these women’s backgrounds are the backbone of our organization.

Marga standing and ETS alumni Paulette Mpouma

ETS alumni Paulette Mpouma sharing her story

Dianne Lorenz speaking about Marga's work

Dianne Lorenz speaking about Marga’s work

Our esteemed Board Chair Dianne Lorenz was responsible for bringing WNDC and EWI together on May 9th for the luncheon and presentation. We are also grateful for this collaboration to Michael Lee Beidler, Anne Martin and Sharon Newsome of the WNDC, who graciously hosted EWI and made this program possible.

Marga was able to take this cause to a vibrant and enthusiastic audience by sharing her own story. Marga’s challenge of adjusting to the system and fulfilling her American Dream is one reason why we are here – helping immigrant, refugee, and low-income women become the entrepreneurs they always desired to be. Joining Marga were our ETS alumni Aida Mady, Paulette Mpouma, and current student Cleopatra Magwaro, who shared some of their extraordinary stories and talked about the changes EWI had brought in their lives. One of the highlights of the event was the artisan marketplace displaying a selection of unique jewelry, handmade bags and cards, Cleo’s book A Season’s Assemblage, and Paulette’s games, bracelets and dolls, and Aida’s display for her catering business, Cooking and Beyond. Of course, we can’t forget Aida’s delectable baklava which was served as dessert during lunch …social change through entrepreneurship was gleaming!

Aida Mady showcasing her delicious baklava

Overall, the generous reception we received from WNDC and the audience gives us hope that social change can be acquired from bottom up if one is given a platform to address the issues that matter. We are gratified by their support and help connecting EWI to the great people of DC and beyond.


Paulette Mpouma showcasing her African Memory Game, with Mary Louise Marino (EWI staff) arranging Cleo Magwaro’s books.

EWI board members, staff, students, alumni, and WNDC guests in group photo


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 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!