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Pricing Strategy 101: A Present from Capital One!

18 Dec

Capital One’s John Villar, Vice President of Business Banking, and Kate Marty, Manager of Business Banking, gave our entrepreneurs another reason to be grateful this holiday season. They opened up a recent ETS class with a much-appreciated presentation on pricing strategies for products and services. Professionally, their department helps small businesses grow into larger businesses, which made them ideal counselors to our aspiring entrepreneurs. They gave us an inside look into how to price products and services, understand expenses, and ultimately increase revenue.


Cynthia King with John Villar and Kate Marty

Thanks to Capital One, our entrepreneurs had the opportunity to receive one-on-one advice from John about their businesses. For example, Cynthia King, an ETS student creating a property management business, spoke with John about her business plan. He applauded her for taking the initiative to renovate a family property that had been sitting idle. In starting her business, Cynthia considered her assets and looked for creative ways to use them to generate income. John was impressed by her initiative. Finding undiscovered areas of opportunity and capitalizing on them is, after all, the cornerstone of business success!

Receiving positive feedback from John gave Cynthia more confidence as an entrepreneur and opened up a conversation about the quantitative aspects of her business model. Already looking ahead, she estimated that she will be profitable in two years’ time and wanted to know how to use that profit to expand her business. John recommended that she first pay herself back for her initial personal investments in renovating the property. After that, she could look towards broader options such as making the property a short-term vacation rental or a bed and breakfast.

Capital One with the ETS class

Capital One with ETS Mentors, Trainers, and Students

Overall, John’s advice was to the class was:

  •  Protect yourself – Invest time in setting-up your infrastructure
  •  Understand your identity – find your niche in the market
  •  Communicate with investors quantitatively – use mathematical models
  •  Build a loyal base – focus on customer service and retention

Sharmila Karamchandani, ETS Lead Trainer, thanked John and Kate at the end:

“You both did a wonderful job in asking all the women of our businesses and pulled out some good examples to explain stuff in detail. Also, I thank you for extending your time to our women and agreeing to meet with them beyond the session tonight or ask any further questions.”

EWI appreciates Capital One’s support of local entrepreneurs. Many thanks to John Villar and Kate Marty for spending their evening with us!

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.

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

“Still Sassy After Cancer” Gala

5 Jun

We are proud of our ETS alumni Jane O. Smith who is launching Still Sassy After Cancer” Gala on Sunday, June 16, 2013 from 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm in Germantown, MD.


Jane O. Smith founder of "Still Sassy, LLC."

Jane O. Smith founder of “Still Sassy, LLC.”

Jane is a breast cancer survival and seasoned communications specialist. She founded “Still Sassy, LLC” to helps clients who are living a “new normal” due to health or cultural shifts, to renew and re-launch with delight. This event celebrates the spirit of National Cancer Survivor’s Day – and brings joy, smiles, laughter and encouragement for all who are touched by cancer.

Please come celebrate the National Cancer Survivor’s Day and join Jane and all of the strong extraordinary women who they or loved ones have been affected by breast cancer. To register click here.

Thank You Woman’s National Democratic Club for Your Support!

3 Jun

When people think about social change, many envision political revolution, a mass social movement, grass-roots mobilization or anything that’s done grandiosely.

Social change can have many features, and one of them is simply envisioning a world where women: moms, wives, daughters and sisters come together to transform themselves and their surroundings with a gentle touch of creativity, talent, and skills.

The theme behind Marga Fripps’ presentation Empowering Women and Creating Social Change Through Entrepreneurship at the Women’s National Democratic Club was primarily about nurturing the creative skills of women who for a long time have felt powerless and disoriented in a world that’s been engorged by mass-production and loss of the unique items or small services.

Marga presenting "Empowering Women and Creating Social Change through Entrepreneurship"

Marga presenting “Empowering Women and Creating Social Change through Entrepreneurship”

Many women who come to the US  looking for ways to fulfill their American Dream, often stumble head over heels with the reality of unemployment and language barrier. The education they acquired or skills they have developed in their respective countries are often unmatchable with the entrenched systems here  and thus become either disillusioned or discouraged. EWI understands these challenges because these women’s backgrounds are the backbone of our organization.

Marga standing and ETS alumni Paulette Mpouma

ETS alumni Paulette Mpouma sharing her story

Dianne Lorenz speaking about Marga's work

Dianne Lorenz speaking about Marga’s work

Our esteemed Board Chair Dianne Lorenz was responsible for bringing WNDC and EWI together on May 9th for the luncheon and presentation. We are also grateful for this collaboration to Michael Lee Beidler, Anne Martin and Sharon Newsome of the WNDC, who graciously hosted EWI and made this program possible.

Marga was able to take this cause to a vibrant and enthusiastic audience by sharing her own story. Marga’s challenge of adjusting to the system and fulfilling her American Dream is one reason why we are here – helping immigrant, refugee, and low-income women become the entrepreneurs they always desired to be. Joining Marga were our ETS alumni Aida Mady, Paulette Mpouma, and current student Cleopatra Magwaro, who shared some of their extraordinary stories and talked about the changes EWI had brought in their lives. One of the highlights of the event was the artisan marketplace displaying a selection of unique jewelry, handmade bags and cards, Cleo’s book A Season’s Assemblage, and Paulette’s games, bracelets and dolls, and Aida’s display for her catering business, Cooking and Beyond. Of course, we can’t forget Aida’s delectable baklava which was served as dessert during lunch …social change through entrepreneurship was gleaming!

Aida Mady showcasing her delicious baklava

Overall, the generous reception we received from WNDC and the audience gives us hope that social change can be acquired from bottom up if one is given a platform to address the issues that matter. We are gratified by their support and help connecting EWI to the great people of DC and beyond.


Paulette Mpouma showcasing her African Memory Game, with Mary Louise Marino (EWI staff) arranging Cleo Magwaro’s books.

EWI board members, staff, students, alumni, and WNDC guests in group photo


EWI gets visibility through RaiseForWomen Campaign Milestone and The Huffington Post

20 May

MAY 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about the prizes here.

IRC Hosts 1st Annual Job Fair

15 Apr


EWI was honored to have been invited by the International Rescue Committee to participate in their 1st annual Job Fair in Silver Spring, MD. The International Rescue Committee or “IRC” provides opportunities for refugees to thrive in America. Each year, thousands of refugees are invited by the U.S. government to seek safety and freedom.  Forced to flee conflict or persecution, many have survived for years against incredible odds. They step off the plane with next to nothing but their dignity, hope and determination.  In Silver Spring and many other regional offices, the IRC helps them rebuild their lives.

 In addition to over 103 refugees and asylees, 16 local area businesses set up tables with displays, giveaways, and plenty of job applications to  fulfill their hiring needs. EWI brought a slightly different offer to the table: a chance to utilize the skills and passions they bring as individuals to start-up their very own micro-businesses.


There was initially confusion as it was explained that EWI was not looking to hire, but rather to inform about the opportunity to be a part of EWI’s “Entrepreneur Training for Success” as well as the new “Grow My Business” program. Once the reality that they too, as refugees, had the opportunity to launch and sustain micro-businesses and micro-services, their eyes lit up with joy! Many refugee women have tremendous skills, talents, and educational backgrounds but are living in isolation and poverty.

Empowered Women International is thrilled to have a hand in creating jobs, sustainable livelihoods, entrepreneurship and leadership among immigrant, refugee and other women in need by providing the business acumen, self-confidence and market opportunities needed to launch and sustain micro-businesses in the cultural industry.

Thanks to the efforts of the IRC and all who were involved, the Job Fair was a wonderful success. We are looking forward to seeing the growth of this fantastic event in the years to come!

-Empowered Women International


Join us this weekend at the MCC Modest Beauty Day!

4 Apr

If you’re thinking of how to enjoy this Saturday’s beautiful weather, come join us at the 2nd Annual Muslim Community Center’s Modest Beauty DayMBAD3 on April 6th in north Silver Spring, Maryland.  This exclusively women artisan marketplace (and women only allowed at the venue) will host vendors coming from different parts of the world exhibiting and selling their creative and artistic products and services.

EWI will be present featuring its very own graduate entrepreneurs Mariam Mohamed, Aida Mady, and Kamila Barbour with their own exhibit tables. As you search for the perfect item you can also stop by Rina Hafiz’s to get free facials, or be part of a women empowerment workshop or just sit back, and enjoy the fashion show presenting the latest trends and handmade textiles coming from the Middle East, India and many more. We hope to see you there!

Location: Muslim Community Center (MCC) 15200 New Hampshire Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20905
Time: 2-7pm

Facebook: Modest Beauty

“Unseen Leaders” Spark Conversation & Create Change

2 Apr

Event Details: “Unseen Leaders of DC”

Where: Policy, 1904 14th Street NW
Washington DC

When: Wednesday, April 17
from 6:30-9:30 pm


Partnering with #SocEntDC, DC+acumen is honored to present the first “Unseen Leaders of DC” panel event. This exciting evening will highlight 5 innovative social entrepreneurs in the Washington, DC area, all of whom aim to inspire positive change within the local community via social business.

Velma Crawford, founder and creator of “Veez Ties That Bind“, will represent EWI as a panelist. She brings to the panel wonderful insight and experience with EWI’s Entrepreneur Training for Success program as a former student and graduate.

Veez ties that bind

These social entrepreneurs may not currently be in the public eye, but they certainly deserve the spotlight for their efforts to create an impact in the city in which we all live.

As a chapter, DC+acumen aims to spark conversation about the local effort to create change. This event will be an open dialogue with the opportunity to hear from the panelists, ask questions, and interact with other attendees. We promise you will walk away motivated to pursue your own wildest ideas and have a stronger sense of the community that exists in DC.


Price of admission includes extended happy hour food specials until 8 pm, $3 to $5 drink specials until 9 pm, specialty cocktails, music by DJ Kyle Knauff and more. All proceeds will go towards Acumen Fund.


6:00 PM     Doors open

7:00 PM     Panel begins

8:30 PM     Post-panel Happy Hour co-hosted by #SocEntDC. Free for all #SocEntDC members and  partners.


Hanae Baruchel, Venture Director at Ashoka


Brian Carome, Executive Director, Street Sense

Christopher Bradshaw, Executive Director, Dreaming Out Loud

Alia Peera, Site Director, BUILD

Velma Crawford, Founder & Creator of Veez Ties That Bind & Entrepreneur Training for Success Graduate,  Empowered Women International

Thank You Hilltop Microfinance Initiative!

1 Apr

Last week was the first financial empowerment class and it brought out the best of both our students and our guest speakers, much to the delight of all of us here at EWI!  The session entitled “Building and/or Repairing Your Credit Score” aimed at informing our women on how to manage personal finances before making a leap in the complex entrepreneurial world. As they think about their creative products or services and their marketing skills, needless to say finance will play a great role in their future success.

2013-03-27 05.38.27

Dawn, Chris, David, Mike, Sankalp, Laura and Alyssa from The Hilltop Microfinance Initiative, a team of highly professional Georgetown University students were there to present some powerful slides on how to interpret those daunting credit reports among other things. Leaving out jargon and intimidating financial concepts, our guest speakers were able to convey simple yet powerful ideas and approaches on how to fix credit scores, how to deal with debt collectors, and most importantly how to manage finances on a daily basis.

2013-03-27 05.38.37

With fresh poise and a dynamic energy, our guest speakers were able to engage our students, patiently answer their questions and share their knowledge in a lively and interactive manner.

Giving accolades to The Hilltop Microfinance Initiative team, lead trainer Sharmila expressed, “You were very approachable and broke down some very intimidating aspects of the financial world into simple-to-understand words… It was a very powerful…positive and engaging session on such a topic most people have a difficult time to speak about.” In concurrence with Sharmila, Marga also noted how the team “all did an outstanding job presenting, engaging and addressing complex questions and real life experiences our women clients are dealing with.”

2013-03-27 05.34.31

Overall it was a life changing, community building, and an uplifting session that will lead our students and most of us to financial freedom. Thank you Hilltop Microfinance Initiative!

By Hanna Yamir, Program Associate Intern

A Shout Out to our Friends at LEDC!

12 Mar

Over the past couple of months we’ve been conducting of our Entrepreneur Training for Success interviews at the Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) office in Wheaton, MD. LEDC is a community-based organization that works to advance low- to moderate-income Lations to financial independence and become leaders in their communities.

Rossana Espinoza, the office manager, has been especially wonderful! Originally from Bolivia, she says the best part of her job is the multi-cultural Latino community she is surrounded by. They all share a common language with all its variety of accents and a common love of food from all over South America.

Thank you Rossana and the entire team at LEDC for giving us the space on those Friday afternoons for interviewing women to our program.