How Does a SEW Business Get Started?

SEW works for “Economic and Social Justice for Women through Small Business Development.” Our major objectives in helping women start businesses in their villages are threefold:

  1. to bring women together to start a business (we do not fund single person ventures);
  2. to provide the business training and materials needed (we provide start up funds and needed trainings);
  3. to empower women through workshops in self-esteem, office management, marketing, product safety, women’s legal rights and gender equality.

Step 1: Ideas are explored with SEW staff

From the beginning of their desire to start a business, the prospective group of women meet with one of the SEW staff/promoters.

SEW promoters help the prospective group to

  1. identify what type business they wish to start;
  2. assess the markets for their products to see if “product” idea is viable;
  3. ascertain the training(s) needed

Step 2: Continuing exploration: 6 – 12 months

From the beginning of their desire to start a business, the women meet with our on-site staff/promoters, Iris, Maira or Delmy. The promoters work with the women over a 6 to 12 month period to identify what type business they wish to pursue, to assess the markets for their products; to ascertain the training needed; and evaluate the potential impact on their community.

SEW Staff/Promoters:


Step 3: Develop budget, initiate a business plan and provide personal development workshops

Equally important to developing a budget and a business plan is the personal development women need to have belief in themselves and confidence to develop a business. Workshops in self-esteem, communication skills and gender equality are provided at the beginning and throughout the years of a SEW business developing.


Step 4: Send Business Proposal to U.S. SEW office

With the above information, SEW staff help the prospective business women write the four page application required. The SEW Board and Executive Director review the application and, if approved, send funding directly to SEW’s Salvadoran business partner, the CIS (Centro de Intercambia y Solidaridad) for distribution to the women who will purchase the necessary equipment and supplies.

Step 5: A SEW business begins

SEW staff in El Salvador now broker the trainings required in production skills and business management and assist the business women to purchase needed equipment for start up. Then they begin.


The restaurant opens


Creative indigo designs are produced

On-going accompaniment, mentoring, trainings and accountability

Once a business proposal is approved and funding is available, our promoters work with the women to acquire training in business methods, marketing, product development and safety, group processes, and especially, the empowering workshops that help the women to develop leadership and confidence.

  • The promoters are on site in the various businesses on a regular basis.
  • A written report is submitted by each business to the SEW Board annually.
  • SEW Executive Director is in regular contact with our Salvadoran staff through emails and SKYPE.


One of the SEW staff accompanies a business for 3 to 5 years during which time the women work toward making the business independent and self-sustainable. All the businesses remain in the “Community Network” of the CIS to stay connected to each other as well as social and community entities with mutual interest.