Tag Archives: Business

Shop for the Holidays While Building Dreams

24 Oct

Look who will be at EWI’s 1st Annual Holiday Gift Marketplace!

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)

Aida Mady
Cooking and Beyond

Screen shot 2013-10-23 at 4.47.49 PMMeet Aida, a baker since childhood who has turned the baking skills learned

Screen shot 2013-10-23 at 4.52.02 PMfrom her mother while growing up in Egypt to create Cooking and Beyond. Aida is excited to share her delectable treats, but she needs a little help with effectively launching her business.  Do you know of an affordable commercial kitchen? Are you a social media guru? Could you be a marketing maven?  Then come to EWI’s 1st annual holiday gift marketplace to meet Aida, purchase her goodies and offer your expertise all in the name of empowering women!

Elizabeth Coker
Ma Lizzie’s Cakes and Catering

Screen shot 2013-10-23 at 5.22.36 PMElizabeth’s compassion led her to bake with the health of others in mind. Saddened by a child having to Screen shot 2013-10-23 at 5.01.21 PMcelebrate his birthday with a loaf of bread instead of a cake, Elizabeth set in motion Ma Lizzie’s, a catering company that delivers delicious baked gluten free cakes and pastries. Let’s help Elizabeth continue to help others by using your business savvy to partner her with larger companies. She could also use some legal expertise for contracts. A small business real estate pro could assist her in finding a store front.  If you or someone you know could help Elizabeth, then EWI’s 1st annual holiday gift marketplace is the place to indulge your sweet tooth and make a difference in a woman’s life.

Paulette Mpouma
The Africa Memory Game

Screen shot 2013-10-02 at 11.34.31 AM Paulette can appreciate Africa’s rich history and she knew that others would too if it was presented to them in a fun, creative way!  Paulette put her love of Africa and her ingenuity to use to create the Africa Memory Game.  Her entrepreneurial spirit has propelled her into the international market, but she could use some help from experienced entrepreneurs to keep the momentum going.   We all know the importance of Screen shot 2013-10-23 at 4.56.46 PMmarketing and distribution of a product.  Or making the right contacts within the media can breathe life into an entrepreneur’s dream.  Better yet, social media is where innovative conversations begin.  Use your entrepreneurial expertise to further Paulette’s business dreams at EWI’s 1st annual holiday gift marketplace.

Free Admission

Let us know you’ll be there and RSVP NOW!

Written by Veronica Hughes, a freelance writer with a passion for global women’s issues and social justice. You can learn more about her over at her blog, Lifestyle and Thoughts


ETS Business Plan Pitch Contest – 3 minutes to win a prize!

3 Jun

With graduation day approaching, Empowered Women International is proud to present the “Business Plan Pitch Contest.” The contest will be held on Saturday, June 15 at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center from 11:30am-2pm in the presence of select judges in the banking, financial, and business industries. This is the occasion when the Spring ETS class will show their business ideas in three minutes.

ETS Spring 2013 Class

ETS Spring 2013 Class with Capital One volunteer business bankers and marketing analysts

There are five prizes, which are sponsored by EWI contributing companies or individuals who donated the cash prize for the business pitch contest:

  • $1,000 1st Prize
  • $500 2nd Prize
  • $250 3rd Prize
  • Two $125 Runner Up

The winners will receive their prizes during our Graduation Reception & Business Showcase on Sunday, June 23 in the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center. All winners will also be provided access to EWI advisory services and KIVA ZIP micro-loan program to support entrepreneurs in their launch of the business idea. Past Biz Pitch contestants have received pro bono financial services, legal services, business advice from professionals and entrepreneurs.

Sara Folts, Charmelle Clark & Nishat Siddiqui

Sara Folts, Charmelle Clark & Nishat Siddiqui

As EWI students prepare to pitch the business plans they built for their start up following their three-month intensive ETS training, the contest will essentially be the report containing their finalized business plans. Some of the topics they have to address are:

  • What is your product or service?  Very simply describe what it is you sell. Be clear, but do not go into excruciating detail.
  • What need does it address? What problem do you solve? What is the compelling need?
  • Who is your customer and how big is the market? Briefly discuss who you are selling the product or service to. How will they buy it and how large of a market does it represent?
  • Who is your competition? Don’t have any? Think again. Briefly discuss who they are and what they have accomplished. Successful competition can be proof that a market exists. 
  • What is your competitive advantage? Clearly communicate how your product/service is superior/different and why you have an advantage over the competition.
  • What is your business model? How do you expect to generate revenue and make money? What is your profit margin?
  • Who will run the company? Tell them a little about you and your team’s capabilities and why you can capture this opportunity.

Our Business Pitch judges are volunteer entrepreneurs – business experts or investors who will score the business plan pitch, provide feedback, advice, and mentorship to EWI student entrepreneurs. Based on the judges’ score and recommendations, EWI will select 5 winners to receive cash prizes.

This is a great opportunity for our ETS students and a good way of witnessing the full evolution of our women entrepreneurs who have transformed their ideas into viable businesses! We’re so excited for them and can’t wait for this incredibly powerful day.


You’re Invited! Micro Business Lending Conference featuring Marga Fripp & EWI Graduates!

16 Jan

EWI Founder and President Marga Fripp

The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond will be hosting Micro Business Lending: Landscape for the New Economy, a conference on micro development and micro business lending on February 25th and 26th and we want YOU to attend!

Empowered Women International’s founder and president, Marga Fripp, will be among a panel of speakers discussing  marketplaces for artists and she will host a panel discussion about Kickstarter.

Also in attendance will be several of EWI’s successful Entrepreneur Training for Success graduates and members of EWI’s Artist Marketplace program: Azeb Yilma, Velma Crawford, Mariam Mohammed, Clementine Simmons, and Lisa Jacenich. Marga will introduce and highlight these women entrepreneurs during the micro business reception on February 25th.

The conference will also feature a keynote presentation by author Michael Shuman, Fellow at Cutting Edge Capital; learning tracks on sustainability, funding, and technical assistance.

Who should attend?
Representatives of micro lenders; small business support organizations; community and economic development and other public agencies; state and local officials.

For more information about the event and to register, visit the registration page found here.
Please note there is a $65 registration fee.

The event will be located at:
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
701 East Byrd Street, Richmond, VA 23219

This event is the result of a planning partnership with the Virginia Microenterprise Network, Association for Enterprise Opportunity, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, Empowered Women International, Virginia Community Capital and On Point Services.

Meet Irina!

7 Dec


Irina enjoys the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of life. She has been a yogi for 15 years and a reiki practitioner for 4 years. Her business is providing Kundalini yoga classes and Reiki energy healing to clients. Kundalini Yoga is similar to other forms of yoga by its series of postures and poses, but it incorporates more dynamic motion, breathing and meditation. Reiki is a healing technique that uses light touch to various parts of the body to ease physical and emotional discomfort. Helping people feel better is very important to Irina, and if she could have it her own way, everybody would be living the best life that they possibly could, devoid of emotional and physical pain. Irina’s roots also account for her holistic and spiritual approach to life—she was brought up in an atheist family in the Soviet Union during the Communist era. Her interest in this field is a part of her own deep need to seek a part of life that she never grew up with and help those around her overcome depression and life difficulties.

Irina originally joined EWI as a mentor for other women, but soon realized that she too had a dream to start her own business and EWI’s course seemed like a comprehensive and helpful program to become involved with. Irina states that her favorite part of the program was that every week, despite the lesson plan or the chaos, there was always at least one moment when a mentor or facilitator reminded the students how much potential they had. “I have taken away that being an entrepreneur is a journey, and not an easy one. It is so much easier when I have a group of supportive fellow entrepreneurs helping me along.”

Her goal is to one day create a community wellness center that incorporates different modalities such as psychotherapy, yoga, massage, and reiki. She wants her business to be a nurturing place for both the staff and the clients. Irina’s loves the number of interesting, conscious people that she comes across in her business, who are constantly integrating more and more into the community here in the Washington, D.C area. The business speaks to Irina’s core and is a field that she wholeheartedly enjoys.

We are touched by Irina’s passion for her work, and highly recommend her to all those in need of spiritual renewal and yoga meditation.

– Mina Alemzadeh
 Alexandria ETS Intern

Graduate Feature: Cake Artists Lyzbeth and Elda

19 Nov

Lyzbeth and Elda met through their daughters, who are both in pre-school. Soon, they became good friends and realized that they both shared the same passions—love for their children and love for celebrations. Both women are self-taught bakers and their company, “D’Ellizia” was founded after many friends urged them to enter competitions, create a business, and seek out wider opportunities to market their spectacular talent. Together, they work to make “dreams out of cakes.” What they love about their business is that it is a fun and unique job and there is never a day that is the same because no cake is alike. They see every cake as a new challenge and every time they come back triumphant!

A Peruvian native, Lyzbeth moved to Arlington 10 years ago, and when she had her first daughter, she knew she wanted to keep the same traditions alive that she grew up celebrating in Peru—particularly when it came to celebration. Coming from a Mexican family, Elda has been surrounded by celebration her whole life, and has always to share with others the wonderful parties she makes for her four children filled with spectacular centerpieces such as piñatas and cakes. Both women knew they had a remarkable talent and made a great team, but were not reaching maximum potential when it came to marketing and sales. That is the moment when Elda and Lyzbeth turned to EWI and began working to make their visions a successful business reality. They have received expert advice on pricing techniques, budgeting, and legal aspects—all of which have contributed to their concrete and modified business plan.  According to Lyzbeth, “I feel that this training helps you not only to grow at a business level but to believe in yourself and boost your confidence so much that you feel you could do anything.”

$$$ EWI Financial Empowerment Class $$$

9 Oct

This past Tuesday, October 2nd, our ETS students attended their second Financial Empowerment class. Tope Ganiyah Fajingbesi started the class off with an extremely informative presentation and Q and A on the ins and outs of budgeting for a business.  The women learned why they need a budget, how to create and use a budget and what they should include in their own business budget.

The students then broke out into small groups of 2-3 to work with volunteer Capital One bankers. The bankers spoke with the women about a huge range of topics, including setting goals and visioning, investments, budgeting, credit and loans.


Overall the evening was a huge success! It was a great opportunity for the women to ask a lot of questions regarding their personal and business finances and gain a better understanding of the steps they need to take to ensure their businesses are successful.

It was a pleasure to have Tope and the 6 Capital One volunteers attend the class and work with the women.  We would like to thank them for giving their time to EWI and look forward to working with them in the future!

Alexandra Standal
Development Associate

PARTY with EWI at the 10th Anniversary Event!

28 Sep

EWI recently put together a team of mathematicians, and after days of calculations, we are able to verify: Empowered Women International will be turning 10!

That’s right, a whole decade EWI has been around.  And in honor of this momentous milestone, we will be partying…

Saturday, December 1st from 5-8 pm at the Rock Creek Mansion in Bethesda, MD.

This is more than just a 10 year anniversary, this is an opportunity to recognize all the wonderful things that EWI has done, and to toast to the next 10 years.

We expect 200 supporters and benefactors to attend.  Our guest speaker will be Congresswoman Connie Morella, who will help transition us into an evening of music, dancing, auctions, and delicious food from around the world.

The  event will showcase EWI’s own changemakers and their micro-enterprises, and will feature live music, culinary demonstrations, and art by graduates of the EWI entrepreneurial program.

The spirited band Rita Clark and the Naturals will be joining us with a live performance of jazz, blues, zydeco, funk, rock and cajun. The band is the capital area’s go-to band for first-class Louisiana-style, ultra-danceable rhythm & blues.

Tickets  are on sale at $75/person until Nov 1, 2012 and include a sit down  dinner of international culinary delights, live music and an inspiring evening of art, creativity and women’s stories.

Tickets are available, and will increase to $100/person after November 1.

Make a tax-deductible donation, to help us empower more women.

Become a sponsor, and be part of this exciting event. Marketing opportunities are available to promote your company!

Our goal is to raise $75,000 by December 1st for our new program “Grow My Business”

Grow My Business will be a 9 month extension of our Entrepreneur Training for Success program.  It will help ETS graduates and other women entrepreneurs to build solid business plans and access capital.  Please contribute.

We  hope you will join with us to celebrate a decade of powerful work in  helping newcomers make America their home, creating jobs through entrepreneurship, and carving new pathways to self-sufficiency for  women.

Thanks for all you do to support our work!

10th Anniversary Special Guests:
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek
Rita Clark and The Naturals Band

Benefit Donors & Sponsors:
Amina H. Shafi, Brian Hartman, Dianne Lorenz, Eileen Kessler, Joanna K. Lyckberg, Larry E. Paul, Melissa Reitkopp, Mimi Hassanein, Risa Bender, Synthia Woodcock-Dang, CariBeat, Awards Limousine Service, Inc.

Velma Crawford in “The Ties That Bind”

5 Sep

Velma Crawford, the ETS Graduate and apron extraordinaire, returns triumphantly to our EWI blog with a presentation about her life called “The Ties That Bind” that was held at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum on August 19th.



You may have heard her story before; in fact it’s tucked into every one of Velma’s aprons. With Velma, when you buy an apron you don’t simply receive an apron but the creator’s narrative as well. In “The Ties That Bind” Velma allows us to accompany her on a journey through her learning experiences with her grandmother, the poor daughter of an ex-slave who taught Velma the skills she uses to create her aprons, and her personal illness which was the catalyst to her apron creating.



While sick, Velma created aprons as therapy that gave “a peace in me”. She discovered that creating aprons allowed her permission to heal and opened up her awareness of sharing. She also learned of the impact women have on each other, how we touch each other’s lives, and how profound that can be. As her therapy turned into an obsession she turned her obsession into a business.



With Velma her aprons are truly a creation, not simply a garment to use, but a garment that speaks through colors and prints. When you purchase one of Velma’s creations you are purchasing a story that started with a woman born at the turn of the century and by having one you are becoming a living part of that legacy.


Velma Crawford – Veez Ties That Bind Slideshow

To learn more about Velma see our blog here and our website here.

Also visit her Facebook page here.

To contact Velma please email her at veeztiesthatbind@gmail.com or vee.crawford@gmail.com.


Pilar Ortiz takes off as Exhibition Curator for Azul!

29 Aug

Pilar Ortiz, one of our fabulous ETS Spring 2012 graduates, has created a new Latino arts exhibit. We all remember Pilar as the bubbly and innovative artist who has moved from art student to art entrepreneur!


Acting as Exhibition Curator she helped put together Azul, a Latino Arts Event that featured over 20 Latino artists from across Central and South America located at the Ana G Mendez University. Pilar said that she hopes to bring business and art together and she is proud to have artists representing all Latin countries to create a truly multi-cultural Latino event.

(center) Maria P. Rodriquez, MDHBC Executive Director with the artists


As part of the event the jazz group Grupo Latino played some fantastic songs while attendees were able to bid, via silent auction, on donated art pieces from the exhibition artists. The proceeds from the auction go to Pilar’s newly established foundation Hispanica that supports the local Latino art community.

This vibrant and colorful art exhibition was free thanks to the support of New York Life. It also acted as the pre-conference kick-off for the Maryland Hispanic Business Conference. The MDHBC is the premier Hispanic Business event in the DC region servicing more than 20,000 Hispanic Businesses in Maryland. The Conference hosts a variety of workshops, training and business sessions focused on creating opportunities for participants from all industries. Hispanic business owners are the fastest-growing segment of the DC region’s business community and the MDHBC conference is a great opportunity to network!

Alexandra, our Development Associate AmeriCorp Vista, with Pilar Ortiz


We are so proud of Pilar and her success after ETS. We hope to write future blog posts about her successes and wish her all the best! Go for it Pilar!

Check out the wonderful exhibit, open until mid-September at the Ana G. Mendez University in Wheaton, MD!

What We’re Reading

31 Jul

What archetypes can do for your business

While you may have heard of “the Hero,” “the Ruler” and “the Lover” in a high school english or cinema class, have you ever associated these symbols with your favorite brand of detergent?

John Purkiss is a consultant in personal brand strategy and has helped launch several businesses throughout the course of his career

John Purkiss, co-author of Brand You, does this every day and encourages other entrepreneurs to do the same!  According to Purkiss, archetypes can play a huge role in building a company’s brand.  Whether we do it consciously or not, consumers associate certain brands with certain feelings (i.e. Marlboro ads evoke a sense of freedom and adventure with the cowboy mascot) and as Purkiss claims, these associations allow us to get a better understanding of the company itself.

Not only do archetypes display the morals and values of a company, but they also enforce customer loyalty.  As Purkiss notes, a strong and uniform brand archetype could attract customers who feel a connection with that certain identity.

So what archetype reflects your business the best? And could building your brand around a certain symbol or archetype really benefit your brand? Follow this link to the Brand You website and decide for yourself!