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“Purpose is what drives our passion to empower women!”

27 Jan

2013 was an extraordinary year for growth, transition, learning, and finding purpose. We met new people, partnered with like minded organizations and people, shared the stage with influential change makers, organized and participated in events, opened our second office in Wheaton, MD…in a nutshell it was a rewarding and tremendously encouraging outlook for Empowered Women International and the year ahead of us.

Marga’s words in our January newsletter, The Year of Transformation and Women’s Empowerment!, captures not only where we’ve been, but where we’re going:

“Purpose is something really extraordinary. It’s something hard to find but easy to discover in times of crisis, in vulnerability… and perhaps, in the darkest corners of our existence…”

These words were part of my TEDx Talk in December, a TEDx Bethesda Women event organized by Jane Smith, our graduate entrepreneur of Class 2011.

Purpose is what drives our passion to empower women. Purpose inspires our women to find their own voice and overcome challenges.  

We help women transform crisis and challenges into opportunities, and seize their chance to blossom and thrive.

With your support, over the last years we’ve proved that when given the right educational training, mentoring and support services even the most vulnerable women can turn their lives around and transform themselves, their families and communities.

This transformation is what inspires each of us at EWI to pursue this mission and seek greater and more effective approaches to social change.

2014 was branded as the year of transformation, and we are already seeing it taking place…

Our new office in Montgomery County located in the Wheaton Plaza North Office Building is now open and our team is working with clients at this new location.

This year we see a stronger focus on partnerships and leveraging resources and community assets to create greater impact on the lives of immigrant, refugee and low-income women.

Together with our community partners and funders, we’re exploring an integrated approach to delivering comprehensive and holistic services that lead clients to full transformation and economic opportunity.

We’re excited about the possibilities ahead and look forward to working with you to create new opportunities that build resilient and fulfilling lives and livelihoods.

Onward and Upward!

Marga C. Fripp

Founder & Chief Visionary
Empowered Women International

Creatively Charming Goes to Kansas!

10 Dec

Charmelle with new friends and future entrepreneurs

In early October, Charmelle Clark, founder of Creatively Charming, and her mother set out on an ambitious five day road trip to Wichita, Kansas. As one of two speakers, Charmelle was invited by Agape Ministries at Grace Presbyterian Church to address issues of domestic violence. The mission was not only directed at survivors of domestic abuse but also at young women around the age of 18 to raise awareness in order to prevent more victims of domestic abuse.

When Agape Ministries reached out to EWI asking for a women to speak about overcoming domestic violence through entrepreneurship, Charmelle proved to be the perfect candidate. Charmelle jumped at the opportunity to share her experiences and empower others. This gave her the motivation to drive 19 hours to Wichita (but a drive she is likely to never want to do again)!

While at the event,  Charmelle met with several women and spoke to them about her journey to entrepreneurship and inspiring a new partnership. “We created a connection between women in both areas”, says Charmelle. “We talked about ideas to implement a program similar to EWI’s in Kansas to help empower women in the area.” Charmelle spoke about the desire to create an annual conferences between women here and in Kansas to promote empowerment and entrepreneurship.


Charmelle in front of Grace Presbyterian Church

When asked if she found the trip successful she replied, “If you reach one, you make one achieve.” Charmelle and EWI hope to continue reaching women nationally and internationally to continue empowering women.

Charmelle also explained how important it is for alumni and current members to use the EWI’s resources and network. “People need to maintain that connection because it is an active, growing network and EWI is behind you 100% to make sure you succeed.”

Thank you, Charmelle! We wish all women entrepreneurs, here and in Kansas, inspiration for continued empowerment and the means for overcoming domestic abuse.

By Ciara Salg, Marketing & Communications Intern

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

Hear Marga & Kate at TEDx Bethesda Women!

11 Nov

Screen shot 2013-10-30 at 12.22.52 PMkate-stevenson

TEDx is coming to Bethesda! EWI’s founder Marga Fripp and Kate Campbell Stevenson, EWI’s former board chair, are in the line up of powerful speakers for TEDx Bethesda Women.“Sassy: Lively and Spirited” will be explored by riveting women, focusing on women and about women’s issues. Jane Smith, owner of Still Sassy and ETS alumn, is the inspiration and lead organizer for the event.

December 5th, 2013
9:30A.M. – 4P.M.
Imagination Stage
Bethesda, MD

Buy your tickets here!

What is TEDx? TED brings together the world’s leading thinkers and innovators to share their ideas on a wide array of subjects including design, science, entertainment, business, development, and technology. TED speakers spark thoughtful discussions, make connections and get people talking. TED created TEDx, a local and self-organized version of the annual event with the goal of exposing their global audience to smart local thinking. TEDx Bethesda Women is one of many TEDx events happening around the globe on December 5 that will expand on the ideas brought up at TEDWomen.

“Our TEDx Bethesda Women’s line-up is a buffet of talents, struggles, lessons learned and bodacious risks. Each presenter will enlighten us with her unique style, story, and strength,” Jane highlighted.

We are incredibly excited and honored that both Marga and Kate have been invited to speak at TEDX Bethesda Women!

Don’t miss out on this powerful event. Seating is limited! Tickets are $100 for a full-day of presenters, including lunch, networking and more!

See you there!

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

Marga’s First Day in Papua New Guinea

5 Nov

 “It’s a privilege to be here in the making of this historic event and work with these women to fully empower them to pursue their highest vision, aspirations and ideals,” says Marga Fripp on her first day in Papua New Guinea after meeting with the most vibrant and determined women of PNG.

Marga will have the opportunity to witness the launching of the Papua New Guinea Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PNGWCCI) on Wednesday, Nov 6th.  The First Lady of PNG, a businesswoman herself, and the most influential change maker women of the country will attend the event, and Marga will be the keynote speaker. It’s an exciting time to be there for Marga as the event symbolizes the fruition of a women-led social movement after year’s worth of struggle to achieve empowerment, political representation, financial and economic independence and much more. The organization will create an opportunity for women to voice their concerns, to engage policy makers in addressing the most volatile social and economic issues that are preventing women from achieving success and empowerment.

All women in the middle are the founders of Papua New Guinea Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Left to right Natalia (US Embassy), Theresa, Linda, Avia, Amanda, Janet, Susan (US Embassy).

Marga’s role in PNG, besides coaching and mentoring entrepreneurial skills, is to inspire and encourage women to speak up about their concerns, obstacles, drawbacks and doubts that are hindering them from achieving their goals in life. It’s conventional wisdom that change can only come when we identify our stumbling blocks and when we make the effort to address it to whoever is willing to listen, and with 20 plus years of experience under her belt Marga knows that the most important step in achieving change is to listen first. These are extraordinary women with extraordinary stories to tell and they represent not just women in PNG but women globally.

This is how Marga felt on her first few day in PNG.

“I met some of the strongest and most determined global women. I had dinner last night with the founders of the first women’s chamber of commerce in PNG. Much like at EWI we shared our stories, and how we have been helping immigrant, refugee and low-income women become self-determined and empowered entrepreneurs through our rigorous 3-month ETS programs.

The women I met are determined to change the status quo, they are women of change, they know where they came from, they sacrificed a lot to become who they are and they are now paving the way for other women and generations to come.

It’s a privilege to be here in the making of this historic event and work with these women to fully empower them to pursue their highest vision, aspirations and ideals. I am confident that their vision, courage and determination will transform both the policy agenda for women’s economic empowerment and the role and condition of women in PNG and globally.”

Written by Hanna Yamir, Program Associate

Chizoma Cluff’s Secrets to Success

4 Nov

Chizoma Cluff, motivational speaker, self-esteem speaker, confidence speaker, style speaker, and women’s issues speaker

What do Tyra Banks, Catherine the Great, Sonia Sotomayor, and Jennifer Lopez have in common? They’re what self-confidence coach Chizoma Cluff calls TRAILBLAZERS – powerful, accomplished women who have made a name for themselves. Sitting among the Entrepreneur Training for Success participants on the first day of class, I said my own name aloud and felt far from the likes of a supermodel or a Supreme Court justice. As class wore on, though, I felt more encouraged thanks to Chizoma’s secrets to success.

The first secret: success starts with you! Self-care is essential to creation, something our 26 female entrepreneurs must listen to in order to build and maintain a fruitful business. We shared our favorites with one another: yoga, journaling, connecting with friends, listening to a favorite song, sipping tea, and walking in nature, all activities that heal the soul and allow us to give back during the day. Some classmates wondered how they could find the time. A past ETS participant, now a mentor, encouraged us to start small, five minutes even, and work up to at least twenty minutes, and before you know it you’re succeeding.

Secrets two and three are more challenging: goal-setting and time management. Chizoma encouraged us to be creative and think differently about what’s possible. She gave the example of trying to break through a piece of paper with the sheer force of one’s forehead. Needless to say, it doesn’t work! With time, tools, and a little ingenuity can we cut the paper, connect the pieces into a loop, and step right through it. Similarly, our entrepreneurs must start where they are now and remember that every step towards their future success counts!

Dressing for success and communicating effectively are the last secrets for our entrepreneurs, who must independently gain contacts and clientele. We can control how we are perceived and command attention with style. Cost can be a deterrent, but, as one participant mentioned, the wealth of thrift and consignment stores in the area that make organizing your image more affordable. A put-together ensemble is complemented by a professional way of communicating. Our participants were reminded to be precise with their language, show personality in their e-mail signature, and respond timely to all requests. Eye contact and a genuine smile never hurt, either!

At the end of the class, one student doubted that she could be as strong and confident as Chizoma. Yet, reflecting on her accomplishments, she realized she had already overcome much in her life by learning to speak English, for example. With the support of her peers and the program’s mentors, I have no doubt that in a few short weeks she will rise proudly and say her name with all its worth.

Written by Kimberly Barton, a guest blogger who’s a new Alexandria resident. She recently graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and is interested in local programs that empower, educate, and support women. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

She Did It! Charlene Tells Her Story of the Marine Corps Marathon

30 Oct
This past Sunday, October 27th was the BIG DAY. Charlene Gatewood, our very own and very dedicated ETS mentor, ran the 38th Annual Marine Corps Marathon to support the professional and educational goals of women with her fundraising campaign, Charlene’s Race to Empower Women. We are so proud of her and enormously grateful! In her own words, she shares her story of that day:
Dear Friends and Family,
Well, it’s over and this is my last email on the subject, so forgive me if it’s a bit long.  Yesterday started off very cold.  When I picked up my race packet at the Expo, I received the official marathon shirt, a long sleeved gray shirt with lots of emblems and the MCM logo commemorating the occasion.  I layered that shirt under my light-weight jacket to ensure that I stayed warm.  I had gloves and wore some panty hose under my yoga pants.  My fanny pack was loaded with paper towels for my runny nose and Clif Mocha Gel Shots for energy – I was ready.
We got to the Crystal City parking garage about 6:50 am and the line of runners and their families waiting for the shuttle buses was already down the sidewalk and wrapped around the circumference of the garage.  We parked and got in line.  The buses were taking runners first and when enough family members were gathered, they would get on a separate bus.  Walter was 2 buses behind me.
When we got to the Pentagon parking lot, I immediately started walking toward the starting line.  As I walked, I saw 4 parachutes floating down – 2 with humans and 2 with the U.S. flag.  It was quite a sight to see the flag unfurled and blowing in the wind and floating down to earth.
There were so many people and many of them were skimpily dressed, some with plastic bags over them to keep them warm.  I was very comfortable. There was music blaring and camera panning the crowd. The gun went off for the wheelchair racers and a few minutes later for the runners.  It took over 3 minutes for me to cross the start line.  As we ran up Lee Highway, I took off my gloves.  I could see that runners were discarding clothes in the street, but I was determined not to leave anything I brought with me.  Just as we were climbing the hill toward Spout Run, I realized I had on too much.  I tried to unzip my jacket, but the zipper got stuck and wouldn’t move no matter how hard I tried.  I was less than 3 miles in and knew that I couldn’t run the whole race that way.  So, I stopped, pulled the jacket over my head and pulled the shirt over my head.  At that point I’m standing in the street with only my sports bra, but I really didn’t care.  I put the jacket back on and tied my MCM shirt around my waist and ran the hill.
The spectators had some very interesting signs.  Most stated that we were “running better than Congress” but my favorites said that “this was the worst parade ever”!
The course turned right at West Potomac Park.  By mile 12 I felt my bladder would burst, but every porta-john I passed had long lines and I couldn’t waste time or slow my momentum.  As I entered the West Potomac Park, I saw a large tree with branches and leaves all the way to the ground. I ran over, went into the seclusion of the leaves and came out relieved. The shoulder of West Potomac Park was lined with the photographs of fallen Marines who died between 2011 and 2013. It was very sobering and sad.
I continued running nonstop and got to mile 17 in 3 hours and 30 minutes. I knew that I was doing well.  I walked about half of the next 3 miles but got to mile 20 (on the 14th Street Bridge) at 12:35, still not bad.  I anticipated finishing in another hour and a half.  However, that’s when I decided to stretch – bad idea.  I must have pulled something because when I started to walk I had pain in my right hip.  It was less painful when I ran but I was so tired by then my running was sporadic.
When I finally made it to the finish line, I reacted the same way that I did 11 years ago.  When the young female marine put the medal around my neck I burst into tears.   When I looked up, a woman at the end of the lane took my picture – it was of my ugly cry face, not the pretty one, but I really didn’t care.  It as over, I was done, mission accomplished!
I would like to thank all of you who contributed your financial support to Empowered Women International and those of you who supported me emotionally. God bless you!  A very special thank you to my love, Walter, who singlehandedly raised $2,460 though his Masonic affiliations and my beloved daughter, Saronda, who gave $325. My total is now $3,870, only $130 shy of my goal.
My biggest contributors:
Columbia Commandry Knights Templar $2000 (Walter’s affiliation)
Lafayette Dupont Lodge $460 (Walter’s affiliation)
Saronda Gatewood-Royster $325 (my lovely daughter)
There is still time to give.  Empowered Women International operates 12 months out of the year serving women in need.  Please consider supporting this organization in the future.  You can mail your contribution to Empowered Women International at 320 S Henry Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314.  Don’t wait for my next marathon, because there won’t be one; I’m done! 
By the way, I beat my 2002 time by 3 minutes and 50 seconds!
Love you all and thank you,

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.

Four New Faces: Meet EWI’s New Interns!

4 Oct

From left to right: Ciara Salg- Marketing & Communications Intern, Kim Booher- Program Associate Intern, Brenda Yoboue- Non-Profit Management Intern, and Tatiana Sandoval- Community Partnership Intern.

This fall, EWI is powering forward with the dedicated support of four new amazing stars: Kim Booher – Program Associate Intern, Tatiana Sandoval– Community Partnership Intern, Brenda Yoboue– Non-Profit Management Intern, and myself, Ciara Salg– Marketing & Communications Intern.

The interns have attended the University of Minnesota, Lock Haven University of PA, George Mason University, and American University. They come from three different continents and have lived in over 10 countries collectively. They hold a variety of knowledge and experience that they are excited to bring to EWI. Above all, the interns have a passion for giving back to the community and making a difference in the lives of women.

When I asked the other interns how their time at EWI has been so far I heard “challenging and intense but exciting and interesting” over and over again. Brenda, our Non-Profit Management Intern, elaborated that although challenging, it’s a great learning experience and is definitely not your average internship. I completely understood what Brenda meant by this. EWI allows you to learn and develop new skills, but also leverages all our strengths. Working with EWI is by no means your stereotypical coffee and copy making internship. The experience is hands on, challenging, and rewarding. When talking to Kim, our Program Associate Intern, she explained how nice it was to come into such a welcoming community. She continued with, “I appreciate the people I work with, am passionate about the EWI mission statement, and love the work I do.”  Tatiana, our Community Partnership Intern, continued by saying “My favorite part of the internship so far is the interaction I get to have with all the entrepreneurs. They are such a great group of women who all have amazing stories. It’s by far my favorite part of the job.”

Speaking on behalf of all the new interns, we are so excited to be working at Empowered Women International. We are all passionate about the work we are doing here and hope to assist EWI in continuing to empower women and making a difference in their lives.

 Written by Ciara Salg, Marketing & Communications Intern