“It isn’t where you come from, it’s where you’re going that counts.”
– Ella Fitzgerald
Inspired by the real life struggles of singer Ella Fitzgerald and the surprising history of the Bengalis of Harlem, Wishwas invites you to change the future for women of color. Please join us for an evening of jazz and cocktails followed by a panel discussion with our aspiring Makers and Leaders.
WWW.WISHWAS.ORG is a grassroots women’s collective that trains low-income women in Queens to become self-supporting entrepreneurs, Makers, and to stretch their abilities to reach new heights as powerful Leaders.
Championed by fashion and jewelry designers Naeem and Ranjana Khan (best known for their work for Michelle Obama, Queen Noor and Kate Middleton), Wishwas recently collaborated with Design for America, Build A Nest and emerging designers at the Brooklyn Accelerator.
The event’s MCs include comedian, director, actor and playwright Alauddin Ullah and writer, playwright and director Sharbari Ahmed.
Alauddin Ullah grew up in a Bangladeshi-Puerto Rican family in Harlem. Ullah was one of the first South Asians to perform stand-up comedy on national television on networks such as: HBO, Comedy Central, MTV, BET, and PBS. He’s acted and done voice-overs in numerous commercials as well as being a member of Joseph Papp’s Emerging Writers group at the Public Theater. He recently won the Paul Robeson grant for his documentary project with writer Vivek Bald about the history of Bengalis in Harlem – one of whom – discovered Ella Fitzgerald.
Sharbari Ahmed is a Bangladeshi-American writer, playwright and formerly, a writer of ABC's hit Quantico. Her book of short stories, The Ocean of Mrs Nagai, was highly-acclaimed and her play, "Raisins not Virgins," won the First Words Literary Prize and was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Tribeca film festival. Ahmed's latest book, Dust Under Our Feet; set against the backdrop of WWII religious riots and the chaos of colonial Calcutta, traces the tumultuous relationship of a hard headed Bengali-Muslim business woman and an American Army Officer.
Wishwas strives to helps women achieve greater autonomy and agency through education and economic independence.
Wishwas’ current program selects 15-20 women for pattern making and sewing classes as well as product development and marketing. At the end of the ten-month training, the women may choose to maintain a home-based small businesses or stay in a group. Group members are given co-op development classes and graduate to a sewing coop where Wishwas helps them to build their connection and Marketing skills. Most of our women are recent Bangladeshi immigrants.
Design For America NYU recently taught our co-op members basic business and computer skills. The DFU helps fashion entrepreneurs with a model that works for business building and leadership skills. EHLS College Brooklyn has offered to teach the women classes in writing and speaking in English.
“Don’t give up trying to do what you really want. Where there is love and inspiration, you can’t go wrong.”
- Ella Fitzgerald
Want to hear more? Have ideas for us? Let’s help more women take the step to self-sufficiency and greater self-esteem.