Tag Archives: Micro-enterprise

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.


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.

Item of the Week: Handmade Fused Glass Plate Set

23 Jan

This beautiful dish set was created through the intricate method of fusing glass. To make a fused piece, requires that glass be selected, individually cut, pieced, glued and fired. Some pieces require multiple firings in a kiln. The artist has created an eye catching pattern in a vivid range of color, including blue, white and golden yellow. The smallest dish measures 4.5 x 4.5 inches, the medium is 5.5 x 3.7 inches and the largest measures 9.4 x 4.9 inches each with a .5 inch lip. These dishes will make a gorgeous statement in your home and can be used for display or for serving treats.

Deborah Schran is a graduate of EWI’s Training for Success Program. She started out as a painter and printmaker, and found that fused glass lended itself to similar interplays with light, color, design and creativity. She stated, “It is great fun to work in this medium – every time the kiln is opened, it is an exciting event”.

Enter Coupon Code: WEEKITEM in Coupon Code Box at Checkout and receive 10% off this item for this week only!

Purchase this beautiful set for your home or for a friend at our online store!

Celebrate Women’s Equality Day with OikoCredit USA and Empowered Women International

12 Aug

Women in Chajul, Guatemala who benefit from OikoCredit

Investing in the Future of Women: How two local organizations use microfinance and entrepreneurship to promote justice, create jobs and opportunity for women

On Saturday, August 27th, 4:30 to 7pm, Oikocredit USA and Empowered Women International are teaming up to celebrate Women’s Equality Day (August 26) by presenting their work to empower women and expand their participation in the marketplace and the public sphere through microfinance and entrepreneurship. The event is free of charge, and will take place at Convergence at 1801 N. Quaker Lane, Alexandria, VA 22302.

EWI artist Rabia Pervez selling at an EWI event

For over 36 years, Oikocredit has contributed to the empowerment of 29.3 million people, mostly women, through investing in microfinance and sustainable income-generating prjects for the poorest of the working poor. Empowered Women International (EWI) provides entrepreneurship training, mentoring and income-generating programs for immigrant, refugee and low-income women artists, artisans and creative entrepreneurs in the greater Washington DC Metro area to bolster their participation in the marketplace and civil life.

Women in Senegal who benefit from Oiko

The event will feature presentations by Sharlene Brown, National Director of Oikocredit USA and a long-time practitioner in the social empowerment of women through microfinance, and Marga Fripp, EWI Executive Director and Founder, a social entrepreneur and life-long activist for women’s empowerment both here and in her native country of Romania. Brown and Fripp will present information about ways individuals can get involved as investors in women’s empowerment.

The event will also present stories of women who have been empowered through EWI’s work as testaments to the benefits and impact of investing in women’s equality and public inclusion. Refreshments will be served and there will be opportunities to purchase art produced by EWI’s local artists and creative entrepreneurs.

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Letter from our Executive Director

11 Jun

Originally Posted on October 27th, 2010

October 26, 2010

Dear EWI Supporters,


I am writing with exciting news about our innovative programs of holistic empowerment, job creation and entrepreneurship for immigrant, refugee and other women in need.

We now are selling a selection of wearable art and other handmade products by EWI women beneficiaries at our online shop, in several retail outlets and through home and corporate parties.

But before I go on to share more about these accomplishments, I want to tell you how this happened.

ewi women
Women in our Micro-Enterprise program working together to produce and market the new 3-in-1 necklace

Since we lost our retail space in Old Town Alexandria two years ago, we have been working to create a model of direct sales through home parties and workplace sales sponsored by our supporters and generous businesses.  We also produce several jewelry designs for wholesale to build our brand and tell our story. Whole Foods Market carries them in three of their stores, and we’re targeting other retail outlets as well.

To accomplish all of this, EWI spent this year testing a variety of business ideas and products, and determining what we need to focus on. We have chosen to continue to strengthen and expand our Entrepreneur Training for Success and the Micro-Enterprise program in 2011 and beyond.

With this direction clear, our staff and trained volunteers have been working with the women in our Micro-Enterprise program to develop a wide range of handcrafted goods that include hand-painted silk scarves, knitted scarves, jewelry designs, original fine art and prints, notecards, bags, and a natural line of body butter and lip balms.

Just recently, EWI launched two new products: the 3-in-1 necklace and felted soap.  The 3-in-1 necklace is hand-beaded by EWI women and can be used as an eyeglass holder, lanyard and a fashionable necklace. The 3-in-1 necklace is available in our online store and for wholesale. The felted soap is a bar of organic soap wrapped in felt, which gives it the quality of a natural exfoliant.  For now, the felt soap is available only for retail at EWI and at our upcoming events and markets.

felt soaps3in1gold

Felted Soap, EWI’s Natural Beauty Bar!                            3-in-1 Hand-beaded Necklace

With the generous help of AmeriCorps, at the beginning of the year we were able to hire Juliana Kerrest, a talented and dedicated AmeriCorps volunteer, who has been instrumental in building our online shop. Juliana is currently working on adding new products to the store and getting the store ready for the holiday season.

This year, EWI became a Green America approved organization, and we’re proud to be a socially and environmentally responsible organization.

With these elements now in place, EWI is strongly moving forward to open more markets for women and transform lives and livelihoods.

You can now see and buy handmade goods by women entrepreneurs, graduates of our programs, in our online Etsy shop, at the Whole Foods Markets in Annapolis, MD, Friendship Heights, MD, and Reston, VA, and in boutique retail stores and galleries including Village Hall Gallery, NY and Edmonds Optician in McLean, VA.

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July 2010: Basic Felting and Entrepreneurship Course

10 Jun

Originally Posted on June 9th, 2010

Application Deadline: Monday, June 28


APPLY TODAY for this program! It is designed specifically for low-income and/or at-risk immigrant and refugee women to teach them the felting process and basic entrepreneurship skills and career and market readiness. This course will focus on felt soap and will include instruction on technique, patterns and designs, production, pricing, and labeling.


Our Basic Felting and Entrepreneurship Course runs from July 10 – August 7 and the course fee is $150 (scholarships may be available). Graduates may become felt soap producers in EWI’s Micro-Enterprise Program, from which they can earn supplemental income. They will also gain access to advanced felting courses and future projects.


To learn more about this course, the registration process, and scholarship availabilities, click here.


EWI women artists in an exhibition and performance at Sewall-Belmont House

8 Jun

Originally Posted on July 21st, 2009

July 29, 2009 – A collection of artwork highlighting women, international perspectives, and the sharing of cultural views, ideas and aesthetics is opening at the Sewall Belmont House in Washington DC with a special opening reception on July 29, 6-8 pm.

Sewall-Belmont House &

Empowered Women International


A Tribute to Women Artists as Change Makers

Wed., July 29, 2009, 6-8 pm
Exhibition Opening Reception, Performances & 
Multicultural Artists Market Place

Sewall-Belmont House
144 Constitution Avenue, NE
(next to the Hart Senate Office Building)
Washington, D.C. 20002

The Life Lines, Adelina Perez del Castillo Photography, 11 x 14

Original Art
Eco-friendly Jewelry
Art Gifts 

by Emerging Immigrant, Refugee &
American-Born Women Artists

Designs by Evelyn Brooks

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