Apr 8, 2016

Christopher Dowswell Scholarship Fund

Report to GlobalGiving (April 2016)

We have exciting news this quarter! Five of the 32 Christopher Dowswell scholars have completed their degree or diploma. Maryam from Nigeria, Yeshalem from Ethiopia, and Rokiatou from Mali have all earned BSc degrees. Balakissa and Awa, from Mali, have received Diplomas. We feel especially proud to have supported the scholars from Mali and Nigeria, given the security situations in those countries. Not a single scholar dropped out or faced delays during their study programs. One scholar told us she was very grateful for the chance to empower herself. “I have great gratitude and respect for Winrock International. This organization stands for educating women, so they can sustain themselves in the face of threats, and become independent. I have no other words for their help, except to say thank you.”

Feb 12, 2016

Art From The Heart

Ribbon cutting for Brush & Canvas, Sept. 2015
Ribbon cutting for Brush & Canvas, Sept. 2015

Brush & Canvas started from a dream and a prayer and grew into a new downtown business in South Arkansas, owned by Arkansas Women’s Business Center (AWBC) client Christina. After a series of challenging life events like recovering from a disappointing educational experience, divorce, and unfulfilling career, Christina decided to pursue her passion with a “go big or go home” attitude. Art was an extracurricular activity Christina’s whole life, as well as for her children. While raising her daughter, who now has an art degree, she would make road trips to buy art supplies or order them online. One day, Christina saw a window of opportunity. She realized the small but growing town of El Dorado needed an art supply store and a place for novices to come and be introduced to the world of art.  

Upon deciding to launch a new business and having no retail or business ownership experience, Christina reached out to the AWBC for assistance. Christina was looking for direction on how to get started, what the process is, how she should file as a business, and what the viability of a store like hers in El Dorado would be. The many homework assignments from AWBC business counselor John Riggins made Christina feel like she had entered college again. But she was grateful to learn how to project cash flow, analyze feasibility, and other helpful tools. Christina mentioned “I didn’t have support like us letting me know I could do it and was so appreciative of the positive reinforcement.”  Together, the AWBC and Christina developed a solid business plan, and that reassured her that the art supply store could be a successful retail operation. The business plan also helped secure  loan from a local bank, which was crucial for starting her business. Christina shared this February “I left the AWBC with realistic expectations about how things could turn out for me and my art store and that has really helped me in the beginning months of opening the store.”  

After Brush & Canvas opened its doors in September, 2015, John Riggins continued to counsel Christina, and assist the store with its events and marketing efforts. When asked about how much profit the events generated compared to retail, Christina said “Had I stuck with retail supplies alone, I would not have made it.” In the first six months, Brush & Canvas expanded their services to include art workshops with various mediums, private parties, groups painting classes, character building workshops, and other fun events. The biggest challenge now is finding cost effective marketing. With continued support from AWBC, we look forward to watching and helping Brush & Canvas grow into a successful operation!

Jan 11, 2016

New year brings more scholars, plans for expansion

New year brings more scholars and big plans for expansion


The Christopher Dowswell Scholarship Program is kicking off 2016 with some exciting news!

We are happy to announce that we have selected 17 new students to join the scholarship program. This means we are nearly doubling the total number of scholars. We are particularly pleased to see an increase in the number of women pursuing their diplomas in Mali, where the program now supports 17 female mid-career scholars.

All the women have expressed their gratitude, some saying they are pleased to see they are finally being offered the same opportunities as men.

The scholarship program now plans to expand to Tanzania, where it will offer BSc scholarships in Agricultural Extension at Sokoine Agricultural University.

Your donations have made our success possible, and will allow the scholarship to expand its reach in 2016. We appreciate your continued support.

Thank you.

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