Encinitas farm hosts Women’s Empowerment International fundraiser

Members of Via International’s group Pan y Paz
Members of Via International’s group Pan y Paz will provide desserts at Women’s Empowerment International’s fundraiser at Coastal Roots Farm in Encinitas on Sept. 25. (L-R) Elisa Sabatini, Rosamaria Barrientos, Amanda Estrella, Beryl Forman, Aureny Aranda, Nina Rios-Fuentes, Sabine Friedrich-Walter.
(Megan Morello)

Nonprofit helps female entrepreneurs around the globe


Women’s Empowerment International helps females from San Diego and Baja California to Uganda to establish small businesses that support themselves, their families and communities.

To continue its mission and expand it, the nonprofit is hosting a fundraiser from 2 to 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 25, at Coastal Roots Farm, 441 Saxony Road, in Encinitas.

Reservations can be made through the organization’s website, The event includes food, music, live and silent auctions, remarks by speakers and other activities.

Sarah Adams, executive director, Women’s Empowerment International
Sarah Adams, executive director, Women’s Empowerment International
(Lionsbrow Photography)

“It will be a great event,” said WE Executive Director Sarah Adams, adding that she is pleased to be working with another nonprofit in Coastal Roots. “That’s great for us to be able to support another nonprofit along the way.”

Located on 17 acres, Coastal Roots strives to cultivate healthy, connected communities by integrating sustainable agriculture, food justice and ancient Jewish wisdom, according to its website,

With the fundraising proceeds, WE hopes to increase its roster of beneficiaries worldwide, Adams said.

The organization provides grants benefiting women struggling to overcome poverty in San Diego, Tijuana, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Honduras and Uganda.

“We are kind of like part of a large giving circle,” Adams said. “We provide grants for organizations and programs that are doing that direct service work.

“We really strive to be more than a typical funder and become a real long-term partner for the organizations so we can support them in other ways through making connections and being ambassadors for their programs.”

Uganda photo
Ugandan women who were enabled to be entrepreneurs by San Diego-based Women’s Empowerment International are seen here with several of the organization’s volunteers on a site visit to Uganda several years ago. Front row (l-r) Jennifer Nantale, Nyaka Country director, and WE members: Jeannette De Wyze, Steve Wolfe, and Sandy Hoover.

(Courtesy of Women’s Empowerment International)

Since its formation two decades ago, WE has distributed more than $2 million to programs with the goal of providing small loans enabling impoverished women to start businesses.

“We really look for organizations that are going to be high impact and make a difference for these women,” Adams said.

Within the San Diego County and Baja California region, WE distributes dollars to Via International, which runs services for women, children and families.

“WE helps us reach communities that we could not normally reach,” said Via President Elisa Sabatini. “What’s wonderful about WE is they want to help all women, including the most vulnerable.”

This year, Sabatini said, Via received $30,000 from WE and signed an agreement in May that will enable Via to continue to receive WE funding for three more years.

“It’s hugely significant,” Sabatini said of WE’s contribution.

Patrons of the upcoming fundraiser in Encinitas will be able to experience desserts prepared by women participating in one of Via’s programs — Pan Y Paz.

“It’s important for us to have a local presence in San Diego,” said Adams, who took over WE’s leadership role in January.

This year’s WE fundraiser is especially significant in light of the coronavirus epidemic, which has suspended the organization’s in-person activities since early 2020.

For instance, site visits to inspect the programs that WE supports around the globe have been curtailed. Adams said she hopes to resume those inspections soon.

The group has about 30 active volunteers, but Adams plans to expand volunteer and grant opportunities, at least in part through money generated at the Encinitas gathering.

“We are hoping to raise $90,000 through this event,” Adams said.

She is adamant about the importance of enabling women to develop financial foundations.

“It just makes sense to focus on women as an investment in families and communities,” Adams said. “Ninety percent of the income (generated by women) goes back into the family.

“It’s building around the idea of supporting a community and a town. And women have more obstacles to face in terms of gender-based discrimination and violence.”