This past Saturday, February 8th, was my first event with EWI as a Program Associate Intern. Generously sponsored by Capital One, students in our Entrepreneur Training for Success class had the opportunity to present their business pitch to a crowd of about eighty people. Amongst these, in the first row, were our judges; professionals from different fields with extensive specialized knowledge and experiences.
Our judges included Scott Hunt, CEO of the Endocrine Society from 1988-2014; George Leventhal, Council Vice President of Montgomery County; Kristina Krawchuk, Co-founder and producer of Womin Media; Travis Lay, Transaction Advisory Services Consultant at Ernst & Young; Akshi Mahajan, Financial Advisory Manager at Ernst & Young; and Judy Stephenson, Small Business Navigator at the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development. Our judges gave feedback with passion and focus; their insight came with a keen sense of relating to our students at this point in their business development.
Furthermore, after an introduction by Diane Lorenz, our Chair of the Board of Directors, and Marga Fripp, Founder and of EWI, the audience got an inspiring talk from Ike Leggett, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett related his struggles coming from a low-income and under served background to his current status as a key political leader in Maryland. Many women drew parallels from themes of his talk to their own experiences.
EWI would love to extend a heart-felt thank you to our judges, guests, volunteers, mentors and generous sponsors including Capital One, Diane Lorenz, Nando’s Peri Peri and Giant. Without their generous support, this event would not have been possible.
During the presentations, students explained to the audience what they do for their business, how they do it, and laid out the detailed financial projections and necessary steps towards achieving their future goals. Our students used tools like PowerPoint and displayed their products with pride. I was struck by the way our students held themselves in front of a crowd with a great sense of self. Regardless of nerves or anxieties, these women presented themselves and their business with belief in their work and drive.
Afterwards, the students broke into small mentoring groups. There, they were able to speak one-on-one about their business plans, and gain invaluable advice from our expert judges.
As the event wrapped up, several of the women spoke about their journeys that brought them to EWI. After recalling some stories of incredible hardship, students voiced how they changed throughout the program. Beyond the education in business basics, financial management, marketing, public speaking and the like, our students built each other up through confidence, self-esteem, and solidarity. This sense of community and care is not something that simply disappears with the end of a semester. Once again, a big thank you to everyone who contributed to Saturday’s event, it was quite the success!
A special thank you to Jennifer Cubas and Yazmin Mataan for photographing and Ernesto Rivera for filming the event!