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Microloan Lets Woman Break Into Niche Market

Evening Edition

Above: Part one of this Microloan series brought you the story of an organization in San Diego that helps women set up small business by using microloans. Now, KPBS reporter Katie Orr has a profile of a woman who used a small loan to become successful in a niche market.

Aired 10/10/11 on KPBS News.

A microlending program in San Diego has enabled a local woman to start what's become a thriving business.

— Last week we brought you the story of an organization in San Diego that helps women set up small businesses by using micro loans. A local woman is using that program to become successful in a niche market.

If someone loaned you $250, what would you do with it? San Diego resident Angela Maweu used it to start her now flourishing business, Angel Green Baby Products. She specializes in making organic clothes made from soy fiber, organic cotton and bamboo.

Maweu was inspired to start making her clothes after her now five-year-old son was born with sensitive skin. She found the clothes available for him were expensive and limited. So she decided to start making her own.

“Having a background in knitting and sewing, I decided to start making clothes for him,” she said. “And two years ago when I was laid off, I ventured more into my business.”

Through the Internet Maweu eventually connected with the Foundation For Women. Through it she was able to take business classes, network with other woman and receive a microloan to help her get started.

“My first loan was $250. With that loan I was able to buy supplies and some of the materials I needed to start off my business,” she said. “Then from there I was able to sell them in some of the bazaars Foundation For Women holds for us and some of the events in San Diego. And the money I made from that I reinvest in my business.”

Those investments have led her to the Leaping Lotus in Solana Beach. It’s a large store filled with all sorts of crafts, toys and clothes being sold by different vendors. Maweu rents space in the building to showcase her products. The store’s Executive Director Cindy Cruz said Maweu’s items have been so successful she’s thinking about expanding her space.

“Her business that she has is kind of unique because she offers organic children’s clothing, which is really a hot commodity right now,” Cruz said. “People come in here all the time looking for things like that.”

Maweu’s success and of other microloan recipients has inspired John Lundblad. He’s with the City of Oceanside’s Neighborhood Services Department. He said encouraging microloan programs is good for everyone.

“It begins by benefiting the individual woman and her family. But also, whenever you do anything like that it helps to stabilize the community. It also means that, overall, the economic level of the community is going to rise,” he said.

For Maweu there have been benefits in all areas of her life. She says she feels more confident and more empowered. And she sees her business continuing to grow.

“I want my own store so I can expand,” she said. “Because this is just the beginning.”

Maweu said some day she’d like to have a complete line of baby products from the crib to the nursery.

Video by Katie Euphrat.

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