a typical class of women learning entrepreneurial business skills

The mission of Empowered Women International is to create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for immigrant, refugee, low-income, and at-risk women in the Greater Washington DC Metro Area.

EWI enables women to pursue their passion and creativity through entrepreneurship and micro-enterprise development. EWI provides entrepreneurship training, mentoring, market access and support services to help talented and high-potential women monetize their creative or cultural assets, artistic abilities, knowledge and skills, and become change-makers in their families, communities and the world.

Who We Serve

EWI serves immigrant, refugee, low-income, and at-risk women who come from all walks of life. Many are unemployed or underemployed, experiencing social trauma, isolation, domestic violence, mental or physical health challenges, or financial instability. All are highly talented, determined, and dream of a better life for themselves and their families.

What We Do

EWI helps launch and grow women-run micro-businesses through entrepreneurship training, mentorship, business support services, loans applications and market access. We help women integrate, act as agents of change and improve their lives and livelihoods through community participation, civic engagement and cultural programs and events.

Empowering Women To Lead With Passion, Courage and Heart

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
—Mother Theresa


Our Goals

  • Create economic, market, and career opportunities for immigrant, refugee, low-income and at-risk women
  • Realize long-term community impact and economic benefit by supporting and investing in women graduates’ businesses and connecting them with a wider network of businesses, professionals and community programs
  •  Raise awareness and increase appreciation for the cultural contributions that immigrant and refugee women, along with their families, make to our country

a class showing two women working on an assignment

Our Programs

Through “Entrepreneur Pathways for Women” (EWP), EWI offers clients training programs and support services, collectively designed to take a holistic approach to each woman’s economic mobility and personal growth.

Training Programs

EWI currently offers two training programs as part of EPW. The programs are scheduled at various times and locations throughout the year to best serve client demand. Qualified applicants may participate in either or both of the following training programs.

Entrepreneur Training for Success (ETS) – A three-month, 60-hour course in business, workforce, life and leadership skills. ETS strongly emphasizes the fundamentals of micro-entrepreneurship, combined with the basics of financial literacy. ETS is offered at least twice during the program cycle (Fall and Spring), with a total participation of 40-60 women over the two cycles. Students selection is based on an application, interview and intake assessment, through which they must demonstrate need, a business idea, and the basic skills necessary for participation. Students work with mentors who assist them with their coursework and in developing a comprehensive business plan. ETS culminates with graduates presenting their vetted business plans at a business pitch event, where they receive feedback from a panel of expert business judges and are eligible to apply for micro-loans from organizations collaborating with EWI.

Grow My Business (GMB) – A six-month business development program designed for ETS graduates and other women who have already initiated their own startup micro-businesses. Through twice-monthly classes, one-on-one expert coaching, and online peer support, 25-30 participants annually work on business formation, implementing their business plans, and developing marketing strategies. GMB is designed to increase business know-how and effectiveness, as well as accelerate sales of products and services. Participants set sales goals, track their financial results, and give monthly presentations about their progress. GMB students also participate in a business pitch event. Scheduling and location are based on client demand.

Entrepreneur Support Services (ESS)

Approximately 300 EWI students, alumni, and community entrepreneurs receive ESS each year from EWI staff, trainers, mentors, and pro bono professional volunteers. ESS consists of year-round personalized business assistance, referrals for support services, and workshops aimed to address the multiple needs women face while embarking on the path to entrepreneurship. Women not only succeed by gaining targeted business knowledge and skills, but receive support in overcoming barriers towards personal and professional growth.

Examples of business support include:

  • financial and marketing guidance
  • assistance in applying for micro-loans or crowdfunding
  • networking and speaking opportunities
  • access to marketplace and sales events
  • guidance in career options and referrals
  • topical business clinics and continuing education support

EWI refers clients to key partners in the community to address a range of personal challenges, including job placement, continuing education, legal advocacy, mental health, emergency funds, housing, and other social services support.

For women not yet qualified to enroll in ETS or GMB, EWI offers workshops designed to cultivate basic life skills, including personal financial literacy and workforce readiness skills, while they learn about options for entrepreneurial training and education.

EWI helps to bring products and services to market and build customer networks through marketplace sales events, including our Annual Holiday Gift Marketplace. Women entrepreneurs are connected with business people in their fields and are invited to join EWI at numerous speaking and networking events throughout the year. EWI entrepreneurs are featured regularly on the EWI website, blog, e-newsletter and social media network, which has a following of more than 5000 people.  These additional opportunities help EWI entrepreneurs integrate in the community and develop a sense of belonging, engage with other businesses and community members, form new bonds and social networks, and bring their lives and micro-enterprises into the life of their communities.

How We’re Different

  • EWI uses the power of the creativity and innovation, entrepreneurship, women’s voices and their cultural heritage to empower women, transform their lives and livelihoods and build multicultural understanding. We help women integrate into the community and recognize their contribution to the fabric of our society.
  • EWI delivers a holistic model of empowerment through entre­preneurship training, mentoring and community service that builds women’s confidence and leadership skills. Our comprehensive three-month entrepreneurship training coupled with follow on business coaching, marketing support and civic engagement opportunities help entrepreneur graduates create pathways to self-sufficiency and citizenship.
  • EWI empowers the whole woman, not only teaching her the skills she needs to launch and grow a business, but using positive mentoring and peer-to-peer relationships to help women build confidence, leadership skills and become engaged members of our community.
  • Graduates of our programs not only become entrepreneurs, but changemakers in their communities giving back through volunteer service, mentoring and philanthropy.
  • EWI women micro-entrepreneurs contribute to a sustainable local economy and planet. Many launch micro-businesses in the arts, food, creative industries, education, well-being and the social sector. Despite the challenges they face, these women are innovative and relentless. They create businesses that solve community problems, generate innovative products, produce locally made food and teach, re-cycle and “up-cycle” products into art objects, and design local clothing, fashion and accessories.
  • All these micro-businesses create a stronger and more sustainable local economy, a thriving creative industry and a fertile ecosystem for female entrepreneurs.ewi trainers and mentors