Last Thursday was a big night for the EWI family. We all gathered at the Silver Spring Civic Center for the Combined Master Business Pitch Event for our Rockville Entrepreneur Training for Success (ETS) and Grow My Business (GMB) classes! This special event was the grand finale for our entrepreneurship classes where students presented their business ideas in front of family, friends, judges and EWI staff.

The first group of women to share their business ideas were the ETS students followed by the GMB students. Each woman had three minutes to share her story, dreams, and business pitch with the audience and then had two minutes to hear feedback from the expert guest judges.

Their ideas ranged from non-profit organizations to affordable couture fashion to cultural stores. It was inspiring to see how these women plan to impact their communities, and their passion for their businesses was contagious.


ETS Students Kicked off the Night with Their Stellar Business Ideas

Kahlil Kuyendall shared her plans to launch “Mama Yogi’s Wellness Project” in Ward 8 this fall, to give high school girls the opportunity to be trained as doulas. Kahlil gave the audience staggering statistics about the difficulties women face in Ward 8, which is one of the poorest areas of DC. The Wellness Project will give teen mothers and other young women the opportunity to pursue a rewarding career path without needing a college degree. Her presentation was powerful and her business is going to change the lives of young women in Ward 8!

The audience got a taste of Brazilian culture from Christiane Madureira. Christiane is the owner of MIMO, a brand of single-serving gourmet brigadeiros handmade from scratch. This is a traditional Brazilian dessert that she knows Americans will get a sweet tooth for. The audience certainly loved the samples she shared on Thursday!

Have you ever wanted to buy a designer handbag that gave you class and confidence but knew it wasn’t going to be in the budget? Thanks to Grecia Pamela Aybar, you soon will be able to afford a chic, fashionable bag from her new line, Domenicci. She is doing amazing work and is so excited to introduce her new line to the world!

Emmanuelle Elessia has found a way to use her passion for computer science to help jamcknight20180628_IMG_5578solve an obstacle far too many American college students understand. College is getting increasingly expensive and many students are turning to scholarships to help them pay for their tuition. Emmanuelle created !statusQuo to help students pay for college through playing games on their phone. The revenue she generates through in-app purchases, ads, and paid applications will go to awarding the players scholarships. Her presentation was inspiring and her business idea is so timely. We are so excited to watch her help others through her passion for technology!

If you have ever wanted to learn more about Mexican culture, look no further than Maria Guadalupe Lopez’s store, Apapacho! Maria’s dream is to open a store in the Baltimore area where she can help people connect to their Mexican heritage or learn about a new culture. Her store will have food, toys, artwork, and fashion that represent Mexican culture. Maria captivated everyone in the room with her passion and excitement for her culture.

Sonia Reyes has been using her life coaching skills with clients for years but finally decided to make it an official business by establishing Family Life Consulting Services, LLC. She strives to provide cultural guidance with holistic life coaching services to working parents so they can empower their children and build strong and safe communities. Sonia clearly cares deeply about helping people and has used some of her own life experiences to help shape how she works with clients. Her services are going to impact communities in the DC area and we can’t wait to watch her meet her business goals!

Evelyn Espaillat has always had an eye for photography but when she moved back to the United States from the Dominican Republic, she decided to pursue a career in Business. Now she is ready to return to her true passion and launch Evelyn Espaillat Photography. Her work has been acknowledged internationally and she has won 16 awards for her art. She has a gift with a camera and we are so excited she brought her photography skills to Maryland!

Grow My Business Students Blew the Audience Away with their Strategic Plans

jamcknight20180628_IMG_5648The audience loved hearing from healthcare professional Angela Williams. Angela is using over 20 years of experience in the healthcare system to create SPIN Healthcare & IT Solutions. SPIN Healthcare & IT Solutions is a consulting firm dedicated to the provision of superior healthcare and IT staffing solutions. They provide client benefits and a level of service above industry standards. While Angela runs SPIN from Bethesda, Maryland, she serves clients in Pennsylvania and Florida. She is currently working on expanding staff so they can serve more clients in more places. Angela is such a hard worker and we know her programs is going to benefit the healthcare field tremendously!

Everyone was blown away by the designs of Uzoamaka Ibekwe, the CEO of Imaka, LLC. Imaka is a couture label which strives to make women feel elegant and beautiful. Uzoamaka combines her passion for fashion design and African culture to create beautiful pieces of clothing. Uzoamaka is eager to enter U.S. fashion industry and her clothes are sure to make any woman feel beautiful.

Francie Wasser, CEO and founder of FranciePants, presented her business of 100% cotton underwear for women. Francie’s business creates fashionable and hygienic underwear for women of all shapes and sizes, which comes in a variety of patterns and styles. Her unique “Crowd Manufacturing” model sets her apart from the competition, while providing side work for anyone willing to learn. In an ongoing kickstarter fundraising campaign, she met her $5,000 goal in just two hours and now has doubled her goal! We can’t wait to see how FranciePants grojamcknight20180628_DSCF7551ws in the years to come!

Ameenah Hyman gave an amazing presentation on her Boutique Cake Studio, Charm Décor Cakes. The creativity she puts into her unique recipes (including recentlyunveiled vegan cakes!) and wonderful decorations is incredible. She even has a variety of mini desserts (like cake pops!) to satisfy any sweet tooth. Everyone’s mouth was watering by the end of her presentation, and everyone rushed to buy a slice of cake at her table after the program. Ameenah is a talented artist and baker and we can’t wait to have another slice of her delicious cakes!

Tho Tran is a woman who deeply understands the importance of culture, community, and helping others. Drawing from her own experiences of coming to America, Tho established Vietnamese American Services, a non-profit that seeks to serve the Vietnamese population in Maryland. VAS provides a host of individualized services to the Vietnamese community, helping navigate American systems of healthcare and social services, providing English classes, and helping with job placement. Tho plans to expand VAS’s services to open a Senior Center. Tho has already provided services to 1,500 Vietnamese individuals and we know her hard work and passion for her culture will help her reach so many more people in the future!

You can tell how much Glenda Sierra-Schultz loves event planning by the way she talks about it and the way she elaborately decorated her table at the event! Glenda is the CEO of Xio’s Events, LLC which specializes in creating floral and event designs for weddings, corporate events, and any other occasion which might need beautiful décor. She is dedicated to every aspect of the event planning process and strives to have an “anything is possible” attitude. She has a wide variety of skills and plenty of experience that makes her a top candidate for anyone who is looking for an event planner.

Alma Wiggins gave an inspiring presentation on her business, The Third Half, LLC. Combining her life wisdom and over 15 years in real estate, Alma created The Third Half to provide services, support, and training for clients. Wherever they are in the real estate process, Alma is ready to help! Alma is so awesome and we are looking forward to seeing many people in the DC enter the real estate investment process with her support.

Another awesome entrepreneur we got to hear from was Johari Barnes who is the CEO of JohariMade, LLC. Johari is an incredibly hard-working individual who has a fulltime job, is a PHD student, and started her own jam business on the side. However, these are no ordinary jams and jellies. Have you ever had mango jalapeno jam? What about coffee jelly? Neither had we until we got to try some JohariMade products and they were out of this world! Her presentation was clear and fun and we are so proud of all that she has accomplished in the GMB course!

All of our entrepreneurs did a wonderful job presenting and we could not be more proud of how they have grown as business owners and women. We are blown away by their talent, determination, and strength. We are so thankful for the trainers and mentors who took time to share their knowledge with these women and empower them to pursue their dreams. We also could not have had such a successful event without the judges who volunteered their time to give these entrepreneurs honest and encouraging feedback. It was a fantastic night!

Photos top to bottom:

1.) Kahlil Kuykendall

2.) Emmanuelle Elessia

3.) Angela Williams.

4.) Ameenah Hyman

5.) Glenda Sierra-Schultz

All photos by Jason McKnight

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