Tag Archives: small business

Currently Accepting ETS Applications!

27 Feb

Do you know an immigrant woman ready to make a living doing what she is passionate about? We can help!

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We work with talented and high-potential immigrant, refugee and low-income women and help them monetize their creative or cultural assets, artistic abilities, knowledge and skills.

Perhaps you know someone who loves to bake, cook, make art, design clothes or teach your skills to others? Whatever her passion might be we can help turn it into business.

We are currently accepting applications and conducting intake interviews. The application is free and available online through the link below.

Tuition scholarships are offered based on need and merit to qualified women applying for our program. Learn more and apply now

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What We’re Reading

3 Jul

Educating the Handmade Consumer

As the graduates of EWI’s Entrepreneur Training for Success demonstrate, there is an incredible solidarity among artisans of handmade goods, and this support network is now more important than ever given the popularity of retail and wholesale stores that blot out the individuality of their suppliers.  What Janet Sahni (or Curator Violet for those of you who follow her on etsystalker.com) highlights in her article is the lack of consumer awareness that prevents the enthusiasm and energy of this network of artisans from spreading to the general public.

In order to get the typical customer excited about the world of handmade, Sahni recommends an awareness campaign that highlights the energy efficiency and novelty of these products- among other qualities that make them the perfect alternative to the mass-produced goods we’ve come to rely on.  Considering Sahni has a following of more than 7,000 devoted bloggers, we’re taking note of her advice.

Gail Consulting Group- Featured Graduate: Addie

11 Jun

Addie Gail’s success story begins before the family emergency that took over her life a couple of years ago. Addie had already been gaining experience in her field of business and marketing when a family member became sick and needed Addie’s assistance.

During this chaotic time, Addie lost her job—and subsequently her home. But, she was gaining something else in the process: faith in herself, and a desire to be a business owner.

Addie had a decision to make; she was at a crossroads. “I said, ‘I either have to do this now or I’m not going to do it at all.”

Addie sought help to get her business off the ground. She went to the public library, hoping to access information that would help her to launch her business. She began attending small business networking events and seminars, but she worried that she wasn’t getting the information or making the contacts that she needed to get to the next level.

She felt frustrated. “There’s got to be someone who can help me,” she recalls. She came across a flyer for the EWI program, and immediately filled out the application.

Addie has enjoyed meeting other women who share her dream of owning a business and being self-sufficient. “Women make relationships through talking. Light bulbs start going off and everyone has ideas that could have wings. You never know what can happen,” she says.

Addie says the coaching she has received from EWI’s volunteers has been invaluable to building her skills as well as her self-confidence. “They give you another confidence––an affirmation that you’re on the right track,” Addie says.

She has gained mentors, and further developed the skills she needed to launch her own business, The Gail Consulting Group, a management consulting firm. Addie offers strategic planning, management training, and facilitation services. She hopes to work with government agencies and programs, and faith-based non-profit organizations.

Addie continuously looks for opportunities to make connections, meet potential clients, and discover how she can meet their needs. While she faces challenges in growing her business during a tough economy, Addie’s passion and determination to achieve success also grow every day.

What’s Addie’s advice for other future business owners? “You have to believe in yourself and believe that you can do it,” says Addie. “You never know what can happen. You have to put yourself out there.”

Written by Willona M. Sloan

Creative Expressions from East Africa- Featured Arist: Mariam Mohamed

6 Jun

Originally from Tanzania, Mariam immigrated to the US a few years ago.  The dream to own her own business has always been there, and Mariam set out with passion to turn that dream into a reality.  Drawing on her extensive experience in working with textiles and sewing, Mariam decided to create unique handbags from Kanga cloth, a traditional fabric with a rich heritage, that originated along the coast of East Africa.  Highly versatile, the Kanga is made from cotton and has bright, bold designs printed along the borders of the fabric. Not only known for its decorative role, in Eastern Africa the Kanga is used to send a message, similar to a greeting card in the Western culture.

Desiring to share her passion and love of the Kanga, Mariam started off by creating and selling her products at a local flea market.  However, her sales did not increase as quickly as she had hoped for. Mariam recognized that what she needed was help in developing stronger marketing skills. “I was facing challenges in getting supplies and marketing issues. I needed help in marketing techniques and developing products.”  As a result, Mariam applied for the ETS program that was being offered in Rockville, MD.

Throughout the course of the program, Mariam has continued to develop her business plan and through the workshops, defined her business more clearly. “It’s helped me to be more strategic in preparation of public relations and the use of marketing tools.” Over the period of the twelve week course, Mariam has worked on making Bahari Deco Crafts, more visible for the public eye, as well as promoting the sales for her handicrafts through her website http://www.baharicreations.com/.

Written by: Sarah Bouwer

Climbing the Mountain to Success- Featured Artist: Jane Smith

5 Jun

Throughout life, we all have various mountains to climb. At times life throws us what seems like a rolling hill, an obstacle that, with a little work, can easily be overcome. At other times, the challenges seem much larger, like a snow capped mountain looming overhead. Three years ago Jane was given a diagnosis that would reshape the world she knew-  breast cancer.  Undaunted, she met the challenge face-to-face and began her climb. Gritting her teeth with determination, she began the arduous trek that was in front of her.  Despite the difficulties and hurdles that laid in her path, she climbed her way to the top of that mountain and left cancer behind.  However, the climb had been laborious and left Jane with the need to rejuvenate a positive self-image of being a beautiful woman.

Victorious, another mountain lay in front her, but Jane is a survivor. Laid off from her job in 2009, Jane began to look for a way to encourage others who had similar experiences. She began to dream of starting a business as an image coach for women who live with chronic illnesses or have had life-changing health circumstances.  Realizing there was a lack of support for healthy body images among women who have had similar journeys, Jane desired to fill a gap.

From inception to birth, “Still Sassy” has been a process. “Professional fears and self-doubts paralyzed me for several years, after my mastectomy.  Working in isolation, bumping around with ideas and passion in my head got me nowhere!”   However, after entering EWI’s Entrepreneurship Training Program, “Still Sassy” started to become a reality.  “It was like hanging on to a baby bird that was ready to fly…every time I got close, I ran back to the nest – even though I was quickly outgrowing it.  EWI provided a safe and thoughtful place for me to tap into my courage for a new and daring adventure!”  Throughout the program, Jane has worked to build her business and through the guidance and assistance of both trainers and mentors, has realized that her passion can be a viable product.  Reflecting on what she has learned over the course, Jane says she has felt her confidence grow as she works to solidify her business plan and has gained clarity and focus with each class.  One ‘aha! moment’ was during the presentation on professional speaking. “It was helpful to see what and how I present without much time to prepare my pitch and persona – I realize what I left out that would have made my pitch more powerful…and what I did right to engage the audience.”

In June, not only will Jane graduate from ETS, but “Still Sassy” will officially launch through a webinar, hosting 2 dynamite professionals who will share their perspectives on ways to renew and relaunch oneself after a cancer diagnosis. Reflecting back on her journey, Jane says, “EWI will be there with me… like an invisible guardian angel riding on my shoulder.  I am not alone!”

Written by: Sarah Bouwer

Portable Art- Featured Artist: Pilar Ortiz

4 Jun

Growing up, Pilar was surrounded by people who were passionate about the fine arts.  As a result, her love for art and music grew, cultured not only by her artistic parents, but also through various professionals who provided guidance in her own personal development.

After receiving her degree in Fine Arts and Design from Columbia, Pilar decided to look for opportunities elsewhere. Young and impressionable, she turned her eyes towards opportunities that would represent adventure, inspiration, and personal development. As a result, in 1993, she immigrated to the United States. As years passed, Pilar continued to express herself creatively and was able to turn her talents into a career specializing in interior design.

Two years ago, an idea began to form.  Recognizing that many young immigrant women need inspiration as they find their foothold in a new country, Pilar began to create paintings that reflected the richness of South America, intertwined with motivational thoughts in Spanish.  Although full of passion, Pilar was unsure of how to create a viable business out of her artwork.   Unsure of where to go, Pilar came to EWI to enroll in the Entrepreneur Training for Success Program.

Pilar’s “Forever Friends” painting

“When I think about EWI, I think about opportunity to establish a business from our talent… [through the classes]  I gained knowledge, information, focus and organization.”  Through the course of the program, Pilar’s ideas have continued to grow and transform. Initially Pilar created her artwork using a variety of mediums: oil and watercolor on canvas, hand painted ceramic tiles, and textiles.  Although she has shown her work in a few exhibitions abroad, Pilar wanted to extend the scope of her work. By collaborating with her classmates, she began to develop her ideas and think of ways to broaden her market access. “To me, the most important key moment was when Marga gave the advice that I should focus on my artistic side and showed me that I had potential to make a living from my art.” Through the spring 2012 session, Pilar has seen her vision, Portable Art Impressions, become a reality.  Focusing on laptop covers and cell phone skins, Pilar has found a niche that allows her work to be displayed through new mediums to a wider market. “Once I finish my class, I’m ready to start selling my products online. I have created and readied my platform of sales, and have a company that will reproduce my art for device skins.  I’m so happy with the help this organization gave to me!”

Written by: Sarah Bouwer

Ourania, Inc. – Featured Artist: Sabrina

1 Jun

Sabrina is a self-taught jewelry maker and astrological enthusiast. She uses semi-precious gemstones and configures them into beautiful necklaces that represent a person’s birth-chart based on their time and date of birth. Sabrina began making the necklaces as gifts for family and friends during the holidays.

Sabrina discovered Empowered Women International’s Entrepreneur Training for Success while browsing the internet for job opportunities. As soon as she read about ETS, she knew that it was something she needed to part of in order to advance her business idea and begin selling her unique necklaces.

“I have learned many things from EWI, but first and foremost how to see myself as a business woman and entrepreneur. How to feel confident in saying that to people when introducing myself and sharing with others what I do. EWI has truly molded my business out of my personal hobbies and passions, solidifying them into a coherent mission statement. EWI has shown me how to brand myself and envision my business, Ourania, as an extension of myself. It has helped me hash out my goals and lay down a timeline in which to accomplish them. “

Upon compeleting ETS, Sabrina plans to continue to develop and expand her business. She plans on expanding her product line, investing in higher quality materials, and broadening her market. In addition to making her unique beaded jewelry, Sabrina has explored developing her own yoga sequences associated to each zodiac sign. Sabrina has learned about astrology through her own research and has participated in and taught yoga classes and continues to incorporate this into her larger vision of Ourania, Inc.

“I hope to see the flourishing of my start-up, to continue to manifest my vision which I charted on my vision board, and I hope to see opportunities and seize them.”

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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