At the close of the first module of the Entrepreneur Fellowship for Women program on December 16th, our Maryland class gave a beautiful and powerful presentation of their business plan pitches to esteemed judges, EWI staff and guests.
Like their counterparts in the Alexandria class, theirs was a three-month journey of transformation. In the Entrepreneurship Training for Success program, where they focused on the skills and knowledge it would take to start their business, it also became much more. In three months, they brought their ideas to life, they reached deep in solving community needs, and brought their aspirations into real action. They each reflected on their growth and how through EWI they had been able to become a part of something so powerful, a community of supportive, empowered women.
“I wouldn’t have met these women without having attended EWI, my heart is so grateful that you are in my life”- Jessica Camacho, ETS Fellow
With hard work and dedication over the past few months, while overcoming challenges and barriers, they all reached great heights. It showed tremendously as each gave their three-minute presentation. What everyone witnesses was a new level of confidence in each of the women. Heartfelt and articulate presentations of their businesses were all filled with their personal stories of why they do what they do. Their stories were powerful. Their businesses are powerful. They are on their way well equipped with the skills and tools for their journey as entrepreneurs.
Cheryl’s business is selling gourmet nuts utilizing a Native American recipe that uses maple syrup, which is very unique to the market. “Nuts are close to your heart, they are heart healthy.” The name of her business was inspired by her grandmother’s saying, “no matter where I serve my guests, they always like my kitchen best.” Cheryl plans to bring her tasty snack to more people as she taps into social media and creating a website.
Jamie is committed to the education, preparation and consumption of nutrient dense foods. She plans on offering weekly cooking classes in Takoma Park, bringing healthy options to those like her who suffer from food allergies. “I love food and I love cooking, but it wasn’t until my son struggled with intestinal issues, that I realized the connection between health and food.”
Bemi Lakew – Faith Flowers and Gifts
Bemi has been in the floral business for 15 years and is continuing to grow. Her goal is to increase sales as well as educate customers about the importance of flowers in daily life. “We want our customers to know 3 things – happiness, nature and design.” Her marketing strategies to reach clients are social network, word of mouth, door to door, as well as connecting with churches, hospitals, event planners and corporations.
Having moved nine times by the age of ten, Jessica learned early in life to manage projects, people, places. There is a strong, passionate social justice element in Jessica’s work, formed in part by her story and family’s history, as well as Masters with Public Health with alternative dispute resolution. Friends always encouraged to start her own project management and consulting business, and her journey with EWI has been one of not only discovering herself, but of fully discovering her business.
Joy Mbajah – Public Health Ventures
Speaking with poise and confidence, Joy spoke on her business, taking on culturally and socially awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS in US and East Africa. Having lost loved ones to the disease she is working diligently to make sure those living with HIV live free of stigma and fear. With over 12 years of experience in public health, her clients range from local non-profits with regional impact to international organizations with a global reach.
Shukri was working in Saudi Arabia and when she came back she wanted to do something for women. Shukri’s business is focused on providing women with the service they need to excel such as resume writing, networking, interviewing, negotiating contracts and salaries. She aims to bring a positive solution to the women’s issues in the workplace and beyond. She will be targeting clients through community colleges, religious institutions and word of mouth.
As a photographer and self-published author of Feminine Transitions, Alyscia aims to capture the natural essence of women – no make-up, no wigs, be who they are in their own skin and shape and form. She has a new project in the works, entitled “I Am More Than My Hair” about women who have lost their hair for medical conditions or cut it in support of loved ones. She has learned how to successfully use crowd funding in order to bring her projects to life.
There was so much positive energy in the room, and the judges gave the students great feedback, tips and advice on how to propel their business to the next level.
“The synergy is this room just grows every single time we meet. I’m so excited to see the growth in this room and be able to come back with my colleagues and share this experience.” – Amy Videla, business pitch judge from Capital One
“Tonight more than I’ve ever seen, every single one of you spoke from your heart, told your story, where you came from and where you are going…and validated yourselves at once.”– Diane Lorenz, EWI Board Chair
Trainer Laura Levengard expressed, “I’m so proud tonight, I can’t even tell you. I can’t wait to start working with you again starting in January!” Laura is referring to the next module of the Entrepreneur Fellowship for Women, the Grow My Business program, which all fellows are continuing onward with.
We would like to thank our mentors, trainers, EWI team, judges and our amazing students for a wonderful event and we all look forward to seeing these entrepreneurs continue to grow!
A special thank you to our wonderful judges!
Dianne Lorenz, EWI Board Chair
Amy Videla, Capital One
Michelle Roth, Capital One
Photographer & Videographer: Ernesto Rivera, Austral Lights Photography
Written by: Brianna Pippens, Marketing and Communications Intern