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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

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


Spring2Action on April 17 to Empower Women!

4 Apr

Dear Friends,

Every once in a while we have an opportunity to transform everything; to make dreams happen, and lift out of poverty and isolation more women, families and communities than ever before.

This opportunity is a chance to make a real impact. And you are a critical part of this effort.

Empowered Women

Nadia Janjua, Artist- Fine Art Exhibition and Limited Edition Prints, Jewelry and Accessories

On Wednesday, April 17th, our community will come together for 24 hours of unprecedented giving to support the important work of Alexandria charities through Spring2ACTion. The event is hosted by ACT for Alexandria and ACTion Alexandria dedicated to help Alexandria’s nonprofits solve critical problems.

Help us meet our goal to raise $55,500 on April 17 to provide 30 entrepreneurship scholarships for immigrant, refugee and low-income women.

Each scholarship includes 60 hours of business start-up training, Entrepreneur Training for Success, 30 hours of mentoring, coaching and support services, networking opportunities and access to micro-loans of up to $5,000 per start-up.

S2A 3

Aida Mady, Gourmet Chef Entrepreneur- Egyptian Cuisine from the Ancient Time to the Modern Day

Last year, with your generous donations, we raised $24,000; $15,804 in donations from 414 donors and an additional $7,500 in prizes. We came in first place for individual fundraiser, in second place for most individual donors, and third place for most dollars out of 72 nonprofit organizations.

Spring2ACTion is our opportunity to team up and raise funds that educate and empower women to carve new pathways to independence through entrepreneurship. Learn more about Spring2Action.

S2A 2

From left to right: Ron and Marty Cordes, Marga Fripp, Kate Campbell Stevenson, and Jan Piercy

Make a donation of minimum $10 on April 17th to Empowered Women International. Your tax-deductible gift will give us a chance to win up to $30,000 in grants and prizes.

Together we can ensure that immigrant, refugee and low-income women continue to find meaningful ways to make a living, inspire their children and pursue the American Dream.

Please share this with your friends and networks, tweet about it, share it on linkedin and put it on your facebook page. Thank you very much for all you do to empower women.

Onward and Upward!

Marga C. Fripp
Founder & Chief Visionary
Empowered Women International

EWI Women Holding up Half the Sky…

11 Mar

Dear Readers,

“Women hold up half the sky” the Chinese saying goes.

   Women also hold together our communities…

I see them in their actions as the keepers of our stories, celebrating our traditions, keeping our history alive and contributing to the cultural fabric of this nation.

   Women are at the forefront of our local economy…

Whether this means they own the corner flower shop or the small neighborhood bakery, or they teach kids in after school programs, women prove to be incredible innovators, problem solvers, and community leaders.

At EWI, we seek those women who might not have the resources needed to make ends meet, yet they have indomitable spirit, determination, and human potential.

We’ve learned that by making a direct investment in women through entrepreneurship, mentoring and support services, often in a time of challenge or opportunity in their lives, we set a new course for their future.

Seventeen women are now enrolled in our Spring Entrepreneur Training for Success.

The program starts on March 23 and is offered in two locations, in Alexandria, VA and Bethesda, MD.

A few more spaces are still available to an immigrant, refugee or a low-income woman ready to launch her micro-business. Scholarships are offered to low-income qualified applicants.

Know of someone who is in need of our assistance? Now is the time to send her our way!
Here is the link to our online application to pass along.

You are about to change someone’s life!

Thank you for all your support.

Onward and Upward!

Mondays with Marga. It’s All about Love…

18 Feb

Today is about love; our unique ability to make the world a better place.

A chance to reflect once more on what makes us rise above ordinary… It is not about what we possess, but about what we give. The extraordinary actions we take everyday that change people’s lives.

And that’s just what we do. It’s all wrapped in love.


So, to this note, I want to add without writing a book that these past 6 weeks of the year (when you haven’t heard from me a whole lot) I have been everywhere along with our team making change happen.

EWI is growing by leaps and bounds, and as exciting as it is, it’s also incredibly intense and transformational in all ways.

We’re revising our core entrepreneurship curriculum and the schedule of classes based on feedback from our students, trainers and mentors. This took a little longer than we have expected, but we have some awesome new features in our training.

The revised entrepreneurship training offers more hands-on mentoring with industry experts, a more effective financial planning module and applied learning through guest speaker entrepreneurs, peer support and networking with successful entrepreneurs and women leaders.

Marga and Sushmita

We are also developing a new nine-month business accelerator program to support women entrepreneurs growing their micro-businesses. This program will include monthly group advising sessions with established entrepreneurs, financial advising, one-on-one business coaching, and micro-loan applications.

The ultimate goal is to help our graduates’ startups grow and go the distance. A business pitch contest will complete the program, and graduates will have the chance to win cash prizes to support their business.

As I write to you our team is busy interviewing amazing women for our Entrepreneur Training for Success starting in April.

If you know of an immigrant or low-income woman who wants to make a living working for herself, doing what she loves, send her our way. We provide scholarships for qualified low-income women. Read more and refer her to EWI.

1422We work with a wide community of talented and skilled creative entrepreneurs who start micro-businesses to support themselves, their families and communities. Some are entrepreneurs in art, music, film, food and the beauty industry, and others in education, business consulting, nutrition and wellness, cleaning services and other home based services.

These entrepreneurs are the backbone of our local economy, and their innovations, passion and dedication make the world a better place for all.

Read more in the next sections about amazing EWI entrepreneurs who break societal barriers through their work and inspire us all of us.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you supporting our journey to empower changemakers to act on their passion and skills.

Onward and Upward!

Marga C. Fripp
Founder & Chief Visionary
Empowered Women International

(originally published on EWI’s Newsletter 02/15/2013)

The Journey is Often a Zigzag Line: Marga’s 2012 Commencement Speech

8 Oct

June 23rd, 2012, our president Marga Fripp gave a wonderful commencement speech to our 2012 graduating class.  Luckily, we’ve acquired a copy of that speech!  So please let these wise words of inspiration be a source of strength as we enter into this Fall 2012 season.  And as we near the 10 year anniversary event, may we reflect upon just how much EWI has accomplished in its decade of existence…

“It’s not the destination that matters, but the journey of learning and self-discovery you took to be where you are today.

You’ve come a long way, Empowered Women Class of 2012. You’ve traveled from faraway places – where there were no roads carved for transporting your dreams.  Many of you had to build the road yourself working long hours and often sacrificing days, nights, and time with the loved ones.  The journey of building your own dreams and claiming your freedom is never linear. It’s often a zigzag line.

The pursuit of happiness–a fundamental right we all have in this country– does not come with a remote control where you push a button and it activates your happiness. It’s something you can earn by building yourself, day by day.

I’ve learned through my own pursuit of happiness that nothing is impossible when determination, passion, and creativity meet. The alchemy of these qualities allows people to thrive and empowers them to finally give themselves permission to be creative, to be happy, to make a living doing what they love, and to be fulfilled.  And once you are happy and fulfilled, the world becomes a better place for you, for your family, and for the whole community.

So here is what I hope you will do:

Dream big.

 Don’t be afraid to imagine a world in which you and your children live a fulfilling life. Dreaming at any age gives you a sense of youth and possibility. Inside our souls we’re all dreamers – creatures filled with endless energy, wisdom, and potential.


Always stand up for what’s right! Learn to stand up and speak up for justice, for human rights, for jobs, for women, for peace and opportunity. If there is no law – you must draft one. If the law is broken – you must fix it. If the law has been forgotten – you must bring it back to life. You see, as a leader, you can’t rest. Your cause is your life!

 Be grateful.

Be grateful and always thank all those who are part of your journey and success. Don’t forget that we are not alone; that our successes are made up of millions of small encounters with people who are helping and shaping our ideas and ideal.

Give back to those in need.

Go beyond the here and now of your life. Identify a real need in your community or in the world and do something about it. You will inspire everyone you know to join you and change the world.

Go the distance!

Life is a marathon, not a race! Prepare yourself to train, compete, collaborate, fail, sacrifice, persevere, endure, complete, and excel. Above all, prepare to rise again every time you fail. Without failure there is no learning; without learning there is no growth; without growth we’re empty shells. Prepare to run the marathon of your lifetime!”


See more photos from the 2012 commencement exercises at

View our Flickr album here

Three Reasons to Mentor a Woman

12 Jul

Why mentor a woman? Well, there are many reasons, but I want to share 3 compelling aspects that move most of our mentors.

Passion is infectious.

I often hear our mentors and even donors finding EWI’s passion for social change real and infectious. It’s true that once you meet our women entrepreneurs and experience the passion behind their work, you too will catch the bug and be transformed. We’re in the business of changing lives, but doing this without passion we wouldn’t be the same organization.

Once empowered, women give back.

It’s truly remarkable to see our immigrant or low-income women students struggling to recover from difficult life circumstances, yet working on business models that aim at social change. Income or profit is important for women, but what is most important is the change these women want to see in their communities. And their business enables them to do just that.

Mentoring is inspiring and rewarding.

We all want to feel good about being of help to someone in need. We love to support and invest in people who passionately believe in what they do. We love champions, and being part of their journeys is as rewarding as seeing them reaching the final destination.

Got time to change a life? We have an opportunity for you. Email Marga at

I promise you too will be inspired and rewarded!

Onward and Upward!

Marga Fripp
Founder and President
Empowered Women International

Passion is the Source of Energy. It is when you do everything with passion that you live fully

2 Jul

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the first edition of what will be an ongoing series of posts on our beloved Marga Fripp, the Founder and President of Empowered Women International.  While some of you may have read her bio and seen her speak at events, there is more to the dynamic Fripp than the incredible work she does for women entrepreneurs.

Ask any of EWI’s current interns – this is one empowered woman with great advice and some wonderful quirks.

Or better yet, ask Marga!  That’s what the EWI interns did this month, and we were impressed and surprised by the answers!

Q) How do you keep yourself constantly energetic and empowered?

A) I often tell people that my mantra is that “I love what I do and I do what I love.” It is when you do everything with passion, when you believe in what you do that you live fully. Passion is the source of energy for me. I never, or perhaps rarely do things just to have them done. I do it fully, or I don’t.

My personal philosophy is rooted in Taoism, and it emphasizes living in harmony with Tao. Tao is the “way”, “path” or “principle”.  I draw inspiration and energy from the little things in life; the things that are often forgotten or taken for granted. Picking up a beautiful leaf from the ground after a stormy weather, stopping to smell the flowers and watching the bees work hard for their honey, planting new seeds in the spring, reading poetry, or making art out of scrap paper – all fill me with a renewed sense of purpose and oneness.

Aside of the meditative part of me, I gain energy by dancing, jumping rope, hiking, cooking, and gardening.

Q) What’s your favorite kind of weather?

A) Gosh! I grew up in Romania where the summers are oven-hot and the winters are freezing-cold. Because of this (and many other dramatic changes in my life) I became very adaptive to any environment or climate changes.

However, I love cooler weather and breezy days. These are times when I am in my garden, digging in the soil to seed new plants, harvesting fresh lavender or basil, or picking fresh vegetables for a homemade salad.

Q) If you were a superhero, what would your superhero name be?

A) Oh, this is a fun one. For years I believed I was Zorro!

It all started with a birthday wish when I was 10 years old. I was tired of seeing my younger brother ordered around by older kids. We grew up without a father, and I often felt the responsibility of protecting my family. After I watched Zorro, one of my favorite movies, I wished to become like Zorro.

The wish turned real in my 10 year old mind. When I saw not only my little brother getting in trouble with older boys, but many other kids, I realized it was time to bring out Zorro.  So, I made myself a mask, a cape and a sword – and I started to solve neighborhood problems 🙂

I have been very fortunate not to forget my childhood wish and throughout my life to find ways to make my voice count, and give voice to those seeking justice.

Q) What do you wish you knew more about?

A) So many things… I wish I knew more about my family roots. My great-grandmother who I was very closed to had a fascinating, yet very difficult life.

Her first husband, my great-grandfather, who I have never met, worked for the Royal Family of Romania before WWII. I remember some of the stories she had told me as a child, and many are war stories filled with life lessons, losses and wisdom grown from tough experiences. Later, she married the great-grandfather who I loved as a child. He built brick homes for wealthy people, but eventually lost his vision in an accident and not being able to earn, he became a beggar. He spend the money he begged to buy milk and bread every day for my younger brother and I, and he often gave me a quarter to save for a winter coat…

Because of all this that I know, and everything else I don’t know about my great-grandparents and my past, and I would to spend some time unearthing history and making new memories about these incredible people that are my family.

*The “Monday with Marga” series will be published on the first Monday of every month and will feature questions submitted by YOU!  If you have a question you’d like to ask, simply email it to by the 20th of the previous month (ex. send in a question for August 6th on July 19th).  EWI would like to encourage readers to focus on topics relevant to our mission (such as empowerment, business development and leadership) as well as personal (and appropriate) questions.

Marga Fripp Reflecting on Entrepreneur Graduates Class 2012

12 Jun

… At the heart of every desire is the desire to feel good. And so, the standard of success in life is not the things or the money, but the amount of joy you feel. – Esther and Jerry Hicks

The amount of joy I feel as our 20 micro-entrepreneur women completed their business incubator program and are ready to launch their businesses is immeasurable.

The process was complex and many students had to face their fears right in the eyes. Besides battling medical challenges, financial and emotional crisis, doubt was probably one of the most challenging of the fears.

Would they actually be able to turn something that for the most part of their life was “a hobby with passion” into a business? Would their dreams finally come true despite all realities of not having a steady income, or in some cases a place of their own? Would they have permission to continue to pursue their aspirations after the program?

Four months is not a long time, yet it is enough for women to learn, grow and blossom; forge new friendships, rebuild confidence and develop a renewed sense of possibility.

But then, will they find the right niche, the marketing pitch, and the clients who would love buying their products again and again?

Every step of the way, our trainers, mentors and staff – ensured our women kept on moving on, pursuing their dreams with no compromises. The ultimate goal of this program, beyond the business side – is the journey of self-discovery, learning, and embracing others.

All women graduates are changemakers – women who not only are in business to support themselves and their families, but to give meaning to other people’s lives.

“EWI has led me on a journey of self-discovery, through education, mentoring and empowerment. The program allowed me to gain a clear vision and realization of what I want to change in my own life, as well as what I can do to change the world we live in. One person can make a difference in a community, but a community as a whole can make a significant impact across the world.”  Valerie Fair, Graduate 2012, Owner of Fair Consultants

I take joy in seeing these women reaching new heights, and I can’t wait for all of you to meet them on June 23 at the graduation reception.

You too will be proud, empowered and inspired! Thank you for all your support.

Onward and upward!

Marga Fripp
Founder and President
Empowered Women International