Courtesy of MWAA
Courtesy of MWAA

The Washington Area Community Investment Fund recently announced its extension of a $50,000 line of credit to support local small businesses operating the Made in D.C. Popup Collaborative.

The collaborative constitutes a strategic initiative launched by the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development, Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority and airport concessionaire MarketPlace Development. It also comprises D.C.-based women and minority-owned businesses and has leveraged the line of credit as an innovative opportunity to support a variety of needs that include inventory management and hiring.

“We are thrilled to support the Made in D.C. Popup Collaborative through this innovative public-private partnership, and thankful to DSLBD for its leadership and support on the initiative,” said Wacif Executive Director Harold Pettigrew. “The Made in D.C. airport kiosk is a dynamic opportunity for local makers to grow their businesses, and we’re pleased to offer a new, creative solution to help them scale.”

The Made in D.C. Popup Collaborative, located in Reagan Washington National Airport Terminal B, was launched in May and has expanded to include wares from 20 entrepreneurs based in D.C. and certified through DSLBD’s Made in D.C. program, which supports D.C. makers and entrepreneurs.

The kiosk is organized and led by Rahama Wright, founder and owner of Shea Yeleen, and a graduate of the first cohort of Wacif’s Ascend Capital Accelerator.

Yeleen is a D.C.-based beauty retailer and social enterprise partnering with women-owned cooperatives in Africa to turn shea seed into shea butter, the source of non-toxic, pure beauty products that restore health to customers and build livelihoods in Africa.

“Together with DSLBD and our airport partners, we’ve curated an amazing local space for travelers to explore brands made in D.C.,” Yeleen said. “Wacif’s line of credit is helping these local entrepreneurs grow their businesses and pay employees a D.C. living wage. The Made in D.C. Airport kiosk is an example of how innovative public private partnerships can create equity and opportunity.”

Wacif’s flexible $50,000 line of credit product has been used by four Made in D.C. kiosk businesses — Shea Yeleen, Bailiwick Clothing, Bicycle Trash, and Culture Socks — primarily to purchase inventory and offset staffing costs resulting from surging sales at the kiosk.

The Made in D.C. Airport kiosk is one of the airport’s highest-selling kiosks, generating $20,000 in sales in its first five weeks alone.

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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