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Passion + Purpose…Watch What Happens

When I met Marga Fripp at a conference four years ago, little did I realize what an important source of inspiration she would become for me, especially as a role model for entrepreneurial women.

An accomplished journalist and activist in Romania, Marga landed in Silver Spring a few days after 9/11 with a seriously ill son, very little English, and an undefined future. Her language studies at Montgomery College brought her in touch with women in similar situations. Most of her fellow students had impressive degrees and creative talent, but they faced uncertain futures due to economic struggles, difficult home lives, and the challenges of adapting to a new culture.

Marga’s “Finding Purpose” Ted Talk will give you a sense of her charisma and her mission to empower women who are both artists and recent immigrants.  Drawing from her own experience, Marga has grown Empowered Women International (EWI) into one of the most effective and specialized entrepreneurial training programs in the Washington metropolitan region.

Marga-TedTalk

As a mentor for Training for Success, I saw firsthand the transformative power of EWI’s multi-faceted programs. Classes prepare women for all elements of entrepreneurship, from developing business plans and analyzing balance sheets, to public speaking and marketing.

As a mentor I was fortunate to participate first hand in EWI’s rigorous curriculum. I listened as its teachers, some thriving EWI graduates themselves, nurtured self confidence in women who may have overcome serious health problems or emotional hardship.

I met incredibly talented women artists who worked with beads, fabric and oils, and others who were fantastic chefs or wanted to bring to market their practical service skills like childcare and landscaping.  All were transformed by EWI’s classes, which provide nuts and bolts training and develop the inner fortitude one needs to launch a successful enterprise.

One of the key lessons women learn in EWI’s course is to embrace the convergence of work and life passions. Ultimately, as Marga demonstrates, this integration brings joy to one’s life and work. Maybe this is what drew me to EWI after all, as this has always been a philosophy I have espoused, and even tried to instill in my own children.

Last summer we began working with Marga and her resourceful colleagues, Mary Louise Marino and Mariana Alvarado,  to develop their new website. Inspired by their vision and my recent experience with EWI, their team and our creative staff led by Emily Rauch, Elisabeth Harper, and Dillon Powell, created a website that embodies the spirit of the organization and its students.

EWI’s site is a showcase for its graduates’ artistry, business skills and diverse backgrounds. If you arrive by the home page, participants’ bright faces welcome you.  The “epic scroll” navigation moves you down the home page highlighting EWI’s benefits: Empowerment, Entrepreneurship, and Self Sufficiency.  Further down on the page prospective students find a clear path to applying for one of three training programs, and visitors can jump to the marketplace where they can shop for services or products. Throughout the site, there’s always a way to donate and share stories on your social media channels. The entire site can be viewed easily on smartphones and tablets.AfricagamePaulette_marketplace

Within the site, personal stories come to life.  It’s heartwarming to read about individual women’s journeys, like Paulette Mpouma, from Cameroon, who created the Africa Memory Game.  With the knowledge Paulette gained through EWI, she has widely expanded the market reach for her unique game that teaches the history and geography of an entire continent.

Her life story and the novelty of her creation have been featured on NPR and Voice of America. Her game is sold online and in 16 stores in major U.S. Cities, and, of course, EWI’s new website marketplace.  It’s a great family game, a perfect gift that I’ve given many times.

The network system that EWI offers provides continuous support for its students.  As a result, not only is Paulette’s business growing, but, as Paulette points out, “EWI also “helps measure what you can do. It’s a community building experience, similar to fabric woven together, women working together and connecting through their work.”

As Marga says in her Ted Talk, the success of EWI, or anyone’s driving purpose, cannot be measured in numbers alone. Though EWI has now trained hundreds of women, its true and most rewarding impact is best assessed by each individual’s creative expression and fulfillment. And the power of EWI is apparent in each woman’s recounting of her changed life including the ripple effect their well-earned certificates have on families and communities.

We’re extremely proud to have played a role in the future of EWI through the launch of their new website. I feel everything about this project embodies what EWI and OmniStudio are all about. Bring your beliefs, dreams and purpose together, make it part of your daily work, and watch the wonderful things that happen.

(Also, take a look at EWI’s blog where they introduce the graduating class of 2014, and recount the website redesign experience from their vantage point.)