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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

Flowers of Clementine

17 Sep

Mother, grandmother, and 2012 Entrepreneur Training for Success (ETS) graduate Clementine Simmons spent numerous years dedicating her IT services to the federal government. During this time, she also began to dedicate some time in fashioning floral designs and realized she was astoundingly gifted in it!

She took her talents to market, selling her works at craft shows and churches and to private individuals. With her success, she enrolled in the ETS program where, with the help of mentors and staff, she steadily improved her business structure and focused on reconstructing her brand.


Clementine stands near floral arrangement

Through the recommendation of a close friend, Clementine sought out EWI for support and motivation. Clementine knew that this would be a great opportunity to become more business savvy and give her old business a fresh start, especially with a gang of EWI cheerleaders rooting for her every step of the way. She needed help developing a business plan and determining her target market, and EWI had the tools for her to do just that.

Clementine knows from experience that sometimes the most difficult aspect of building your own business is that inner voice of doubt. She stressed that regardless of any shortcomings or challenges faced during your journey, people in her shoes must not give up on themselves. She even stated that, “You should continue to press forward and improve on yourself as well as the product you are selling. Believe that as you press on and the right doors will open for you.”

Beautiful addition to the entryway!

Clementine delivers one her custom floral designs to Deborah Blank.

This epiphany is ultimately the reason she enrolled in the Grow My Business program. Clementine saw this course as another stepping-stone to success. In this program, she is placed in the position to challenge herself to expand her networks and forge partnerships with fellow business owners. She is also able to get advice and expertise from like-minded individuals.

Interested to find out how you can turn your talents into a business?

Applications for Fall 2013 ETS term are being accepted now! Classes are held in Alexandria, Virginia and Wheaton, Maryland starting October 21.  Openings still available for our Alexandria class. 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

Written by LaNesha Kearse, Social Media Writer

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

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

Incredible Moments at the Graduation Reception & Business Showcase

10 Jul


Entrepreneur Graduates, Class 2013

Entrepreneurs Graduation Reception & Business Showcase Special Moments…

Thank you so much for your support over the past months to help Empowered Women’s immigrant, refugee and low-income women build businesses, create jobs and gain confidence to pursue their dreams.

With your support we graduated a class of 19 entrepreneurs last week at Montgomery College and experienced the powerful transformation of these courageous women.

Highlights from EWI Entrepreneurs Graduation, June 25, 2013
A film production by Ernesto Rivera

Business Plan Pitch Winners!
$2,000 in cash prizes to support their startups

1546Reneta Bennett Winning the 3rd place in the Business Plan Pitch Contest

1st place: Dicey & Nneka Scroggins – $1,000
2nd place: Reneta Bennett – $500
3rd place: Sarah Folts – $250
Runner up: Floralba Camargo – $125
Second Runner Up: Julie Hyo Park – $125

1536A heartfelt thank you to our amazing Business Pitch Judges.
We couldn’t have done it without you!

Lloyd McCormick, ChildFund International
Kevin Kelly, ECDC-Enterprise Development Group
Earl Furfine, CPA, PMP, CITP
Claire Alexander, Palindrome Advisors
Ryan Ulbrich, Raise DC
Tony Alexis, Yamas Restaurant
Lydia Patrick, Webclearly LLC
Adam Kulikowski, Capital One
Anastasia Kadantseva, Capital One
Bo Chipman, Interface Financial Group
Dr. Jayfus Doswell, Juxtopia
Aminta Perez-Gold, IADB
Maria Luisa Hayem, IADB

tacha coleman parr


Tacha Coleman Parr, Spring 2010 Graduate, was Mistress of Ceremonies


100% created a business plan
100% learned pricing strategies
76% improved their money management skills
82% feel they are better role models within their families and communities
100% expanded their social network and support system
75% are in a better position to send their children to college in the future
71% improved their leadership skills
82% improved their self-confidence & self-esteem
70% feel that the program helped improve their products/services
65% created an online presence for business
100% rated EWI program as excellent

1545Mary Louise Marino, Melissa Saucedo, Siobhan Quinn, Karla Silvestre, Marga Fripp, David Sears, and Toya Powell

“I am amazed at all the women who have taken a step to depend on their talents and faith to start a process of self-fulfillment. EWI offered us so much… It was up to us to take advantage of it. I believe in this program. This was one of the best experiences of my life right now! EWI gave life to an idea, and in so doing, gave life to those who were willing to give life to their ideas. In so doing, let us continue to choose life as we will always be ‘life givers.’ Peace and Prosperity!” -Annette McNeil, ETS Spring Graduate


Our deep appreciation to our burgeoning partner Montgomery College for hosting and generously sponsoring this year’s Graduation Reception and Business Showcase at Montgomery College’s Cultural Arts Center.


1547Sarah Folts, Graduate and Marga Fripp


Capital One Bank
The Community Foundation For The National Capital Region
The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia
The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
The Alexandria Commission for the Arts
The Mason Hirst Foundation
In Focus Foundation
ACT for Alexandria
Dalal & Company
The Washington Forrest Foundation
The Giving Circle of Hope Reston
AmeriCorps Vista
The Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation
Cordes Foundation
The Catalogue for Philanthropy
Westminster Presbyterian Church
The William and Sylvia Cohen Family Fund
and generous supporters like you!

1548Mimi Hassanein, Carolyn Bloom, and Marga Fripp


Capital One
In Focus Foundation
Earl Furfine
Yamas Mediterranean Grill

Special Thanks

Ike Leggett
County Executive, Montgomery County

David Sears
Senior Vice President of Advancement and Community Engagement, Montgomery College

Chuck Short
Special Assistant to Montgomery County Executive

Karla Silvestre
Latino Liaison to County Executive Ike Leggett 
& Manager of the
Gilchrist Center for Cultural Diversity

Lindsay Camacho
Office of Congressman Chris Van Hollen

1549EWI Amazing Team of Champions who Make the World Go Round…

Check out more photos from the event


Rebecca Jami
Jami Production & Design

Tacha Coleman Parr, EWI Alumni
Graduation Mistress of Ceremonies

Aida Mady, EWI Alumni
Cooking & Beyond

Ernesto A. Rivera
Video & Photography

Jen Cubas, Photographer
Art Institute of Washington

Marga Fripp Making Headlines!

9 Jul

Marga Fripp with Advisory Board member Mimi Hassanein

EWI was honored this week to be featured in an article in two Pulitzer Prize-winning news organizations’ sites: The Christian Science Monitor and The Huffington Post.  Our inspiring leader and founder of Empowered Women International, Marga Fripp was interviewed and spoke about her time in Romania and how her life’s journey has led her to form EWI and help other immigrant women like herself.

Marga initially spoke with Richard Polt of Communicate Good, LLC, a PR Company devoted to promoting the good work of nonprofits and individuals making a difference. He interviewed her and wrote the piece as part of Communicate Good’s  ‘Talking Good’ series which highlights individuals who “champion causes and lead by example”.  Once published the story was picked up by the Christian Science Monitor and the Huffington Post. Empowered Women International hope these news features will help EWI empower more immigrant, refugee, and low-income women and continue training talented and passionate entrepreneurs. We would like to extend a big thanks to the great work by Rich Polt and all those at Communicate Good who aim to give a voice to noble causes.  The news feature can be found on all three sites below.

Talking Good

The Huffington Post

The Christian Science Monitor

Please share our exciting news with your networks by copying and pasting one of the links above onto facebook or twitter!

Written by Tess Stansbury, Non-Profit Management Intern

Business Plan Pitch Leaves an Outstanding Impression

18 Jun
Students Dicey Nneka Scroggins preparing for their duo presentation

Students Dicey Nneka Scroggins preparing for their duo presentation

As the mid morning approached, so did the powerful anticipation of presenting the determination, hard work, and pride that came into effect at this spring’s Business Plan Pitch.  Taking a glance around the room made it very clear that excitement and enthusiasm was just the beginning. As the guest arrive smiles began to be shared, laughs where initially introduced, and greetings give way to a great afternoon filled with powerful business plan pitches!

At the beginning, everyone was given a moment to spend time with the mentors and friends to whom the students gave aspiration to. It was more than apparent that the mentors at EWI have served as models for inspiration and influence that have touched each student in different ways. What followed were exceptional business pitches that not only centered on the idea of creating a foundation, but showcased innovation by illuminating the dedication each student originated from the very first day of classes.

EWI founder Marga Fripp with Judges Aminta Perez Gold and Kevin Kelly

EWI founder Marga Fripp with Judges Aminta Perez Gold and Dr Jayfus Tucker Doswell

One of the first students that presented was the charming Charmelle Clark, who use her public speaking skills to make her pitch informative, concise, and meaningful to everyone in the room. Every student that preceded demonstrated strong, persuasive and heartwarming stories behind each individual business idea. The transformation happening is more than just a semester, this is a lifetime change.  The poise and eloquence that each individual student put forward gave significant reason for this year’s judges to evaluate and give constructive and positive reviews.

EWI student Cleopatra Magwaro as she presents her Writing and Publishing Company Sevices

EWI student Cleopatra Magwaro as she presents her Writing and Publishing Company Services

After each pitch it was the judges turn to make comments and ideas to enhancing the already prominent business proposals. One constant suggestion that the judges indicated was the use of social media to generate networking opportunities. Another suggestion was the projection of knowing your clientele and competitors, which reinforced to the students that in the world of business, distinction is everything. 

Biz Plan Pitch Judges focusing on the presentations

Biz Plan Pitch Judges focusing on the presentations

Reneta Bennett, founder of Pressing Through Mentoring, made her feelings well-known at the end when she said, “I am thankful for the support that the judges gave me; it helped me a lot to be able to speak about my business and hear what others think.” The judges also had a few words to mention about the experience of analyzing the presentations. Second-time judge Lloyd McCormick expressed his thoughts about the students’ work by mentioning, “This was terrific, wonderful, they were very positive about their goals and there’s a lot of talented and motivated people”.

Final remarks were made by Marga Fripp who defined how motivation and inventiveness made this day special. “After 10 years, it’s really rewarding and re-energizing to see what these women have accomplished and overcome, and this is why I keep doing it”. The overall encouragement and support that filled the air was one-of-a-kind. As graduation for these amazing women is coming into view next week, one thing is for sure… success is a journey, not a destination and the journey will continue to empower them each step of the way.

Group photo of EWI Judges, Students, Mentors, and Supporting Staff

Group photo of EWI Judges, Students, Mentors, and Supporting Staff

We are so proud of you, Spring Class of 2013!

See more photos of the event on our Flickr set here. More Photos
Special thanks and credit to Jen Cubas Photography for the taking all the awesome photos!

ByVirlen Reyes, Community Partnerships Intern

Meet Angela!

13 Jun

Angela Sargent

Angela Sargent


Angela Sargents is a single mother of two sons. She started her business in 2007 after another job lay-off. She graduated from George Mason University in 2000 with a B.A. in Biology. Angela has self published two books. The first book is about her experience with domestic violence. The second book is a satire about the workplace. She is VERY passionate about raising awareness for domestic violence, parental alienation, and breast cancer.

Angela sells hand-knit scarves, hats, cell phone holders as well as greeting cards, inspirational plaques, and books. One holder she makes is a replica of one she made in honor of her friend who passed away from breast cancer. She donates part of the proceeds to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Angela plans to re-publish her book through another venue and donate part of the proceeds to domestic violence organizations.

The vision inspiration for Angela’s business idea came from her two sons. A.I.A. stands for Angela, Isaiah, and Aaron. They inspire her to make the world better and to inspire others to do the same.

Angela says that Empowered Women International has encouraged her to raise her product prices to what they are worth. EWI has also provided support through different speakers and mentors as well as contributed to new product ideas. Most importantly Angela says she has an increased self confidence.

Angela’s favorite things from her time in the Entrepreneur Training for Success course thus far has been the credit counseling class and personal session with Hilltop Initiative. She has also enjoyed all of the different ideas and place to market her work.

By Jami McDowell, Community Partnerships Intern