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Our Sincere Appreciation to EWI’s Generous Donors & Supporters of 2013

22 Jan

Our work is possible because of your dedication to women’s empowerment and the power of entrepreneurship to create opportunity and changes lives.


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

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

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


EWI gets visibility through RaiseForWomen Campaign Milestone and The Huffington Post

20 May

MAY 20

Many thanks to all who contributed to Empowered Women International through the online giving event: RaiseForWomen hosted by The Huffington PostThe Skoll Foundation, and Half the Sky Movement.

With your support, so far, we raised $2,293, and a gift of exposure from HuffPostImpact through their Facebook and Twitter accounts (see the prizes below).

The campaign will continue until June 6, and the next bonus challenge started at today for $4,000. Here’s the deal…

The charity that raises the most by May 27 @ 12pm ET will get an additional $4,000.  

Please share our link with your friends and help us meet our goal of$15,000 by June 6. 

Many thanks for all your support and dedication to the cause of Empowered Women International.

Learn more about the prizes here.

In Letter to the Editor, Good Things Happened on Spring2Action

17 May


The April 17 Spring2Action online philanthropic and giving event was a day filled with excitement, energy and dedication. The whole Alexandria community came together to raise money and left a lasting and meaningful impact on all of the non-profits involved during the event.

Perhaps the most important footprint this special day left was none other than here at the headquarters of Empowered Women International. With the help and support of everyone involved we were able to raise $30,497 and won an additional $2,850 in prizes from ACT for Alexandria.

thumbThis huge milestone for EWI and the women in our Entrepreneur Training for Success was recently documented in a letter Marga Fripp wrote to the editor in Alexandria Times, which was laster picked up by the Nonprofit Roundtable e-Newsletter. The letter, “When city residents get together good things happen,” highlights the mission of EWI and what it stands for, and expounds how people with similar visions coming together can accomplish huge results in a single day. With ACT for Alexandria’s meticulous work, our contributor’s relentless support, and our wonderful board members, volunteers, and staff we have made great strides to make the world a better place leaving a lasting legacy and a community of change-makers.

twitter 165px POWER OF SHE

We thank Alexandria Time’s for publishing the letter and deeply gratified for the generous and continuous support of all who made Spring2Action a day to remember!

To read the letter, please visit:

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

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!