Trustee: Empowered Women International

Alexandria, VA

Why are you interested in becoming a Trustee?
Empowered Women International (EWI) provides a yearlong Entrepreneur Incubator, a program that delivers entrepreneurship education, business start-up and mentoring for immigrant, refugee and low-income women in the Washington DC Metro Area. The incubator includes four project components: (1) Entrepreneur Training for Success – intensive 3-month business start-up, (2) Grow My Business – 9-month accelerated business growth and preparation for capital access, (3) Mentoring and (4) Civic Engagement. After completing their business plans and launching their businesses, graduate entrepreneurs seek capital to invest in their micro-businesses and market their goods.
What is the mission of your organization?
Started in 2001 by an immigrant woman, Marga Fripp, Empowered Women International (EWI) is an award-winning non-profit organization that channels the entrepreneurial spirit and creative capital of talented and high-potential immigrant, refugee and low-income women into new jobs and small businesses. EWI is a leader in women’s empowerment and micro-enterprise development in the Washington DC Metro area serving 200 women each year.
In the past, how effective have you been in achieving this mission?
Over the past years, EWI graduates have launched 133 businesses of which 70% are still in operation. EWI graduates surveyed responded the following: 58% stated that they had increased their production level, 49% increased their income through product sales or employment, 35% served in a leadership role in a non-profit organization, 29% in a professional association and 24% in school PTA’s, 70% are a better role model to their children and/or family, 83% have donated money or goods to charitable organizations, 90% have volunteered with a local organization, 47% sent remittances to their families or communities in their home country and 97% stated that their involvement with EWI expanded their social support system. EWI gathers pre and post-ETS socioeconomic data, level of income, professional and business pursuits, business know-how and skills, education, volunteering, role women play in their families and the community. We measure the impact our program has at the graduation after 4 months of business start-up training, a year later at the end of the Entrepreneur Incubator, and annually up to 5 years. Immediately after graduation, we look at how many women launched their own business, how many have increased their income, how many improved the ability to manage money, and how women have integrated in their community. A year or more after the training, in addition to the areas above, we assess the level of financial independence, business viability and growth, positive effects on graduates' children and engagement in the community and/or their home countries through service, remittances and philanthropy. Additionally, we ask women for program feedback to improve our programs and services, and solicit testimonials about the impact of our program on their lives and families.
Do you belong to any organizational networks -- nationally, regionally, or locally? If yes, please list.
Opportunity Collaboration; Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington; Catalogue for Philanthropy
How will you decide who to endorse as a borrower? What due diligence will you conduct?
All borrowers are graduates of our program. We worked with these women one-on-one and have a relationship that ensures trust and accountability. We are endorsing borrowers who have: Strong character; Viable business plans vetted by EWI; Less than $3,000 of past due debt; Debt to income ratio less than 35%; Not in bankruptcy /foreclosure proceedings and Loans must be for a legal, business purpose.
How do you plan to support the borrower, both before and after the loan is disbursed?
EWI will support the women borrowers we endorsed with technical assistance including: business coaching, mentoring and targeted workshops in financial management and business development. Borrowers will attend EWI's Grow My Business Program a 9-month business acceleration program that provides monthly business workshops, one-on-one mentoring, business financial forecasts and advising with Capital One Bank volunteers and other experts.
How will you help us ensure that the loans you endorse have a significant and positive social impact?
EWI clients are talented and promising immigrant, refugee, low-income and at-risk women struggling to earn an income and integrate into the community and the marketplace. Although highly educated and hard working, they face tremendous hardships from lack of confidence to isolation to domestic abuse, from underemployment to unemployment. Entrepreneurship, economic empowerment and community participation are key solutions to the challenges these women face. We recruited talented and skilled women who have a product, a service or a clear vision for the business they want to start. Some are creating products out of their kitchen or in their basement, and others are developing services from cleaning to health advisory to after-school and educational programs. We work with many exceptional women artists including painters, musicians, writers, jewelry and accessory designers, film-makers and some of these people have never showed or sold their work professionally before coming to Empowered Women International. Our program has a holistic approach to entrepreneurship and micro-enterprise development. Along with business and entrepreneurship education and we teach the whole woman. We help her develop self-esteem and confidence, we facilitate opportunities for her to present her work, tell her story, teach and empower others. We mentor, listen, and connect her in the community to other resources, professionals and markets, to ensure she is gets the support needed to grow personally and in her entrepreneurial endeavors. Of the women we launched in business: • 35% served in a leadership role in a non-profit organization, 29% in a professional association and 24% in school PTA’s • 83% have donated money or goods to charitable organizations • 90% have volunteered with a local organization

About Empowered Women International

Trustee Type:
Entrepreneurship Incubator, Mentoring and Micro-enterprise Development
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On Zip Since:
Jul 8, 2013
(37 months)
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