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Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Maryland Nonprofit Spotlight: Empowered Women International
This week, we take a look at another organization doing great work for the greater Washington community. Empowered Women International is a women-centered, women led organization dedicated to helping immigrant, refugee, low-income and otherwise at risk women pursue their passions through entrepreneurial development. EWI provides entrepreneurship training, mentoring, market access and support services for talented, women seeking a better life for themselves and their families. EWI is a driving force in the community with offices in Rockville, MD, Alexandria, VA and Herndon, VA.
Local business and community development
One third of the participants in EWI’s programs are residents of Montgomery County. “We don’t want to have an organization that doesn’t serve community needs,” says Chief Empowerment Officer Florence Navarro. The organization has plans to expand further into Montgomery County and into DC. During a discussion with area council members, Navarro stressed the need for infrastructure within the immigrant population. On average, micro businesses are known to employ 2 ½ people per business in part time or seasonal positions. The increase of micro businesses in the area would ultimately lead to an increase in jobs and local economic growth.
Women empowerment: solidarity and ambition
“If you don’t have an entrepreneurial mindset it is going to be difficult to thrive in the work world,” said Navarro as she spoke on the business landscape of the 21st century. EWI works to foster a space where passionate business-minded women can come together to organize, learn and sharpen their skills. Navarro sees that these women have potential but may feel isolated because they are immigrants and don’t understand the market or have difficulty overcoming cultural barriers. That’s where EWI’s thriving network comes in. At EWI, there is a strong emphasis on maintaining in-house resources along with a wider network of businesses, professionals and community programs.
A holistic approach
Often the women who come into EWI’s training programs are dealing with some degree of social challenges or even traumas as a result of their background. EWI aims to create a safe space for these women to share their stories and gives them access to healing. This is especially powerful for women who feel as though it is not acceptable for them to focus on themselves. By addressing their obstacles and unlocking their potential, they have a much better outcome. If their needs are not met during training, EWI provides outside resources that will address them.
Stay tuned for more spotlights on local nonprofit organizations. Want your organization featured? Contact Kelly Beecher.