Image of a female refugee in front of a window.
Rob./ Flickr

Families from all over the world come to the D.C. area for refuge and opportunity. Unfortunately for many, those opportunities are often difficult to come by. Marga Fripp, the founder of Empowered Women International (EWI), felt that frustration firsthand when she came to the U.S. from Romania.

Fripp met other talented women through English classes at Montgomery College in Takoma Park, Maryland. In order to showcase their talents and their cultures, Fripp started EWI, a training center that helps women turn their creative talents into profitable businesses.

“Culture can be easily displayed through art,” said Teal Griffey, a non-profit management intern at EWI.

Ten years later, immigrant, refugee and low-income women come to EWI with ideas for businesses in jewelry, catering, textiles, painting and many other creative industries. For the first three months, women learn how to write resumes, create business plans and market their new ventures. They launch their businesses and for the next nine months EWI helps them succeed with mentoring and workshops.

“It started out as a group of women helping each other and has turned into almost a full-fledged business school,” Griffey said.

EWI is almost entirely run by volunteers and is always looking for people to teach classes or donate their time as mentors. It is also currently recruiting for the Fall business incubator, which is the first three months of the 12-month program. For information on how to qualify for or volunteer with the program, email [email protected] or call 571-312-4781.