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Peter’s Take: Empowered Women International

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotI occasionally like to highlight nonprofits who are offering valuable services and programs in Arlington. Today, I’m focusing on Empowered Women International (EWI).

EWI creates jobs and economic empowerment through entrepreneurship training, mentoring and support services for immigrant, refugee, and low-income women throughout the D.C. metro area, including in Arlington. EWI core services include:

  • Yearlong entrepreneurship training incubator,
  • Mentoring and support services for micro-enterprises,
  • Access to professional networks, investment capital and public marketplaces.

Immigrant and refugee women represent a source of potential economic enrichment and multicultural understanding for their communities; however too often they are marginalized and their capabilities under-utilized. A survey of EWI’s women beneficiaries showed that 80 percent were working professionals in their home countries, but had an annual income of less than $5,000 when they first came to EWI.

In the past five years, EWI has launched 180 micro-enterprises — 70 percent of which are still in existence. Graduates’ increased income supports economic growth in our region through tax revenue, additional job creation and purchasing of supplies and services from other local businesses.

Graduates become volunteers and leaders within their communities through EWI’s required “each one, teach one” community enrichment program. EWI programs transform women from a population in need of support to an income-generating population giving support and leading change in their communities.

On March 18, EWI will be providing an opportunity for women to earn a scholarship into their business entrepreneurship program. Participants will have three minutes to verbally present a concise, clear and powerful description of their business idea. A panel of business experts then will provide feedback and select those who will participate in the program.

To pitch your business idea, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be an immigrant, refugee or low-income American-born woman,
  • Have a business in idea stage, hobby business, or 24-36 months into the business,
  • Be able to participate in online and offline training and mentoring program,
  • Have a good command of both written and spoken English,
  • Have basic computer skills for writing and online research.

“Being a part of EWI makes you feel part of a larger whole,” Sushmita Mazumdar, an Arlington resident and owner of Studio Pause, says, and “it gives you credibility as an entrepreneur because so many people, businesses and professionals are part of EWI’s network.”

With support from EWI, Mazumdar received a micro-loan of $5,000 to open Studio Pause, a community art and cultural studio that brings together adult and children alike to create art, write and tell their stories.

If you are looking for other ways to get involved in EWI’s activities, those are summarized here.

EWI is performing a valuable community service here in Arlington and throughout the D.C. metro region.

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

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