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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

Our New Logo: Redesign to Redefine

2 Oct

Last year EWI reached a milestone, celebrating ten years of accomplishments and empowerment! As the organization heads into its 11th year, EWI felt it was time to re-envision the empowered women.


EWI marketing materials featuring the old logo

You may have already started to see the new logo on some of our announcements and marketing material and wondered what the story was to prompt the update. Here’s the story:

Throughout EWI’s history the logo has been a symbol of power, strength, vision, and opportunity. Although the old logo had received a tremendous amount of positive feedback over the years, as EWI grows and expands, we wanted to give the empowered women an opportunity to re-define herself as well.

As Marga Fripp, EWI founder, explained to me, “Stylistically, the old logo was created in a stamp-like form that did not posses many shapes. In the new logo, shapes and forms are highlighted in order to visually represent the empowerment in the women on the logo. This empowerment can be seen through the waves and movement in her hands and body – she posses a glow from inside because she is transformed in the way she appears. The stars in the logo have also been given an update. The logo has evolved over the years and Sharmila Karamchandani, ETS Lead Trainer & Volunteer Extraordinaire, added the stars about five years ago. The new logo provides color and meaning to the stars. The gold star represents the American dream of opportunity. The green star represents entrepreneurship and the blue star represents creativity.”


The new and improved EWI logo!

EWI’s website will also be receiving a facelift! While speaking to Mary Louise Marino, I came to understand that the site has been evolving organically for years but recently it became apparent that it needed to be presented in a more streamlined, clear, and simple way. The new website is being created by Omni Studio and as Mary calls them, The Dream Team: Eileen Kessler (who’s also an ETS Mentor) Emily Rauch, Dillon Powel, and Elisabeth Harpe. It was also Omni Studio’s Dream Team that re-defined EWI’s new logo that captures so powerfully all women reaching for the stars and realizing their dreams. We want to extend a special thank you to them for doing such a fantastic job on updating EWI’s brand appearance!

EWI is excited to share our changing and evolving logo and our upcoming new website as our organization grows and expands. Stay tuned as we roll out more in the coming weeks and months!

Written by Ciara Salg, Marketing & Communications Intern

My Day at the Alexandria DiverseCity Fest

27 Sep
Entrepreneur Julie ready for an empowering day!

Entrepreneur Julie ready for an empowering day!

On Saturday September 14, 2013 EWI had the privilege of participating in the Second Annual Alexandria DiverseCity Multicultural Fest in Arlandria, Virginia. This event was designed to bring community members together and celebrate Alexandria’s diversity. “Nearly a third of Alexandrians speak a language other than English at home,” said Debbie Hodnett, festival chair. “The city of Alexandria is proud to celebrate these diverse cultures by highlighting the variety of music, dance, crafts and cuisines that make Alexandria so vibrant.”

Amoy showcasing her beautiful jewelry
Amoy showcasing her beautiful jewelry

As the new Community Partnership Intern at EWI and it being my first event I was thrilled to be taking part in such a culturally diverse festival; however what is a cultural fest without the culturally diverse artists and entrepreneurs of EWI and their equally diverse artifacts? On this occasion we were fortunate to have four of our Alumni with us which included Charmelle Clark, Mariam Mohamed, Julie Hyo Park, and Amoy Stephen, as well as our wonderful volunteer Su Hlaing Win Nu, who helped me make this event possible. EWI was proud to be there to support our Alumni and I was equally excited to be able to promote more awareness in the community about EWI and its mission.

Mariam keeping busy

Mariam keeping busy

When I first got to the festival I was nervous about what the day ahead would bring. It being my first time at an event representing EWI there were times when I questioned if I had what it took to share with people what a great organization we truly are. But working alongside such wonderful women, hearing their stories, and seeing their passions, I immediately realized how far dreams can actually go when you have the right tools and the right people by your side. At that point I wanted to get up on stage and let the whole fest know about EWI, but I held back only because Melodica Oriental, the Salvadoran and Honduran band was playing such a catchy tune that many were dancing and giggling, and that only made me the more joyful to be there!

Peruvian drumming !

Peruvian drumming !

The day could not have been any better. I enjoyed sharing about EWI and I enjoyed going around Arlandria and posting flyers, dropping of postcards, and even using my bilingual skills to let many shop owners know about EWI. Many of these show owners were very interested in our organization and shared with me their own stories and struggles about starting their own businesses, many exclaimed how helpful and less stressful it would have been to have an organization like EWI by their side back then.I was happy the day ended on such a positive note and happy I was able to take part in such an event. After such a wonderful experience I felt only the more empowered to take on the next event and keep spreading the word in order to help more dreams and passions turn into realities.

Written by Tatiana Sandoval, Community Partnership Intern

Marga Fripp Among Those Honored at Walker’s Legacy

25 Sep

In the early 1900s, Madam C. J. Walker carved a path for both women and African Americans with her philanthropy and relentless ambition in her entrepreneurial ability, becoming the first female self-made millionaire in the United States.

A century later, on September 18th, Walker’s Legacy hosted the first Business & Civic Leadership Awards designed to honor and recognize outstanding professional women who have demonstrated achievement in business and civic engagement.

The honoree panel (from left to right): Tecoya Gordon, Marie Johns, A' Lelia Bundles, Natalie Maderia Cofield, Maria Cardona, Marga Fripp, Ricki Fairley.

The honoree panel (from left to right): Tecoya Gordon, Marie Johns, A’ Lelia Bundles, Natalie Maderia Cofield, Maria Cardona, Marga Fripp, Ricki Fairley.

EWI’s Founder & President, Marga Fripp was one of the chosen speakers and honorees for the event. She was featured on a panel where she shared ideas, provided advice to young entrepreneurs, and further connected and promoted women in business, along with other distinguished women for their business endeavors.

The Walker Legacy honoree panelists included moderator Shelia Stewart, an award-winning journalist and host on Radio One. Others were Marie Johns, president of L&L Consulting and Maria Cardona, political strategist, CNN Contributor, and Principal at the Dewey Square Group.

At one point, Stewart asked the panel how they maintained their balance as women in modern day business. “While juggling family, responsibilities, and growing an organization,” Fripp replied, “I believe that I am a global women, and because of that, I have a responsibility to be level headed and act as one. Finding your center—whether mental, body, spirit, or business center—in every single circumstance is extremely important.”

EWI Board Melissa Reitkopp and Dianne Lorenz, with Marga Fripp

EWI Board Member Melissa Reitkopp and Board Chair Dianne Lorenz, and Marga Fripp with Bruno Mazali of Zoe Ventures, LLC

EWI would like to thank Walker’s Legacy for organizing such a special event and honoring exemplary women. EWI hopes to continue the connections made and share the wisdom presented to better empower women around the world.

Written by Ciara Salg, Marketing & Communications Intern

Be a Heroine! Become a Mentor!

22 Aug

2013 Spring ETS Mentor Orientation

Ser un héroe hoy! Be a heroine today! Join the ranks of other stellar mentors who have accompanied the women entrepreneurs of Empowered Women International (EWI) on their journey to pursue their dreams. We are an organization that channels the entrepreneurial drive and creative talents of immigrant, refugee, and low-income women, and mentors are vital to the success of our women entrepreneurs.

Be inspired working alongside women who have refused to let adversity define or limit them. Our mentors find Entrepreneur Training for Success (ETS) mentoring program extremely rewarding and a mutually beneficial commitment for them and the women they mentor. Many particularly relish the opportunity to learn about the extraordinary cultural stories of the women enrolled in the program. And many mentors discover unlocked talents and hidden strengths from within themselves!

What does it take to become a mentor?

  • Pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit
  • Demonstrated success in business and/or leadership
  • Passion for empowering women entrepreneurs
  • Cultural competency, empathy, and good mentoring abilities

Mentor Deborah Blank discusses business plan with student

ETS is an intensive three-month business start-up training program that prepares underrepresented women to launch and grow their own micro businesses, through entrepreneurship training, mentorship, and business support services. We are particularly encouraging bilingual or conversational Spanish speakers to apply! Classes are offered in Alexandria, VA and Wheaton, MD and start in mid October to early February.


2013 Spring ETS mentors, staff, and former student pose for photo (Listed from left to right Clementine Simmons, Christine Ollis, Eileen Kessler, Alexandra Standal, Charlene Gatewood, Deborah Blank, Mariam Mohamed, Marcela Kogen, and Hanna Yamir)

Excited about this opportunity? Click the links to read testimonials from former ETS mentors here: Marcela Kogan, Howard Feinstein and Christine Ollis, & Deborah Bank, Charlene Gatewood, and Clementine Simmons.

If you want to make a difference in the lives of women who strive to persevere, visit EWI’s Become a Mentor Page or call Mary Louise Marino, Outreach & Operations Manager, at 571-312-4781 or email her at

We look forward to hearing from you!

Written by LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern

Apply Now for EWI’s Business Training Course!

20 Aug

Tenisha Campbell and Jane Mwinuku, Spring 2013 ETS graduates.

Have a business concept that you need help getting off the ground? Want to channel  and transform your talents into a sustainable, income-generating business? Don’t have the tools or know where to start?

Empowered Women International (EWI), an organization that channels the entrepreneurial drive and creative talents of immigrant, refugee, and low-income women, may have just what you need! Join the long-standing legacy of women who have enrolled in EWI’s Entrepreneur Training For Success (ETS) course.

ETS is an intensive three-month business start-up training program that helps prepare women like you to launch and grow their own micro businesses, through entrepreneurship training, mentorship, and business support services. Here, women receive individualized support from successful mentors and experts in their respective fields. They also have the opportunity to build life-long relationships and strong friendships with women with similar backgrounds while sharing their unique stories in a positive and encouraging atmosphere.


ETS students discuss their businesses

Applications for Fall 2013 ETS term are being accepted now! Classes are held in Alexandria, Virginia and Wheaton, Maryland starting in mid October.  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

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

EWI participates in Women and Wine

30 Jul

On Wednesday July 17th, EWI participated in the Women and Wine of Alexandria event in Alexandria, Virginia. Women and Wine is an organization that facilitates meetings with the larger community to discuss various contributions of local women to their communities over wine tasting. This event afforded EWI the opportunity to socialize, network with, and recruit like minded women to their Business Corps Volunteer Team.

Women from different arrays of businesses,  got together for a fun evening of networking amongst themselves as well as with a charity that serves the Alexandria area. EWI was the charity of their choice this month.  Recent alumna Charmelle Clark was able to showcase her work, network with potential clients and partners, and share her personal experience in the EWI program. For EWI’s Community Partnerships intern Virlen Reyes the experience was eye opening. “It really showed how versatile an individual becomes after putting our (EWI’s) skill set and life skills model into practice.”


Charmelle showcases her work

EWI Staff member Alexia Muchisu Wendel expressed satisfaction in seeing how, empowered, confident and successful of one of the  Entrepreneurs for Success graduate, Charmelle was at networking, presenting her business and selling her products at this event.  EWI is extremely thankful for their alumni’s investment in the program even after graduation. Their testimonial truly highlights the powerful and positive ways in which EWI has impacted their lives and ours.

EWI had an amazing experience at Women and Wine of Alexandria event and looks forward to participating in future events hosted by this organization.

Thank you for supporting Empowered Women International.

By LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern

Briggs Chaney Community Day 2013

23 Jul

Paulette Mpouma displays her products

On Saturday July 13th, EWI had the privilege of participating in the Second Annual Briggs Chaney Community Day Event in Silver Spring, Maryland. This event catered to vendors and non profit organizations allowing them to showcase their services, products, and public contributions. The event created numerous opportunities for community cohesiveness by stimulating future partnerships, broadening networks, and inviting local businesses and the community to come together to speak about pressing issues.

Community Partnership Intern Virlen Reyes was grateful to see open dialogues about the challenges faced by refugees trying to reconstruct their lives in the United States and how the future of services provided for them by the government, local vendors, and non profit organizations may look. Virlen noticed how dedicated the county government was to the commitment of being present in the community as well as providing better services. Of course this event wouldn’t be complete without some EWI Alumni, Paulette Mpouma and Mariam Mohammed were on hand to sell their products, share their personal stories and their EWI stories. “This event was really impressive. It really gave me an appreciation of the organization (EWI) and how they help students market their businesses.”

EWI is delighted to be a part of such a great event that emphasizes community outreach and hopes to continue their participation with this event in the future.

Thank you for your continued support of Empowered Women International.

By LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern

Summer Picnic Sensation

18 Jul

EWI Student shows off face design

Infused with fun and a bit of casual mingling, EWI kicked off its first annual summer picnic this past Sunday with a kid-friendly picnic at Valley Mill Park in Colesvile, Maryland. The event was indistinguishable from your typical family reunion as alumni, board, staff, and their families and friends shared hugs and laughs. Everyone had stories about their lives and gave updates on their businesses.

A lot of people voiced the power of word of mouth marketing to their awareness and successful recruitment into the program. It was amazing to see the strong connection that alumni have to the program and the emphasis they and staff put on making sure that invaluable resources are shared with other women.

Some, like Mariam Mohamed, who specializes in custom made handbags even took advantage of the opportunity to promote her new handcrafted natural soap by offering free samples and asking for customer feedback. Others leaped back into childhood getting their faces and bodies painted with intricate patterns, flowers, and pretty convincing animal designs led by Sharmila Karamchandani and Marga Fripp.

Founder Marga Fripp indicated that at events we always get so caught up in catching up, that at the end we forget to take group pictures. Thankfully this time around, our wonderful photographer, Jen Cubas, was able to change that and capture one essence of what EWI stands for: family.


EWI Staff and Students pose for group photo

Thanks to everyone who came to our first annual picnic and contributed to making it a delightful afternoon with great stories and super cookout food!

By LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern