By Shannon Edie
In honoring King Kamehameha I last month, I am reminded of his command: “E naʻi wale nō ʻoukou i kuʻu pono ʻaʻole e pau – Conquer you must, for my righteous deeds have not yet been fulfilled.”
Leading the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce (NHCC) during a pandemic has been an interesting yet deeply humbling and rewarding experience. As a chamber, how have we lived up to the King’s example despite the challenges brought by COVID-19?
The pandemic provided us with the opportunity to take a step back and focus on things like strengthening our internal infrastructure, modernizing and streamlining our operations, redefining who we are, growing our membership, nurturing existing partnerships and developing new ones, and engaging in virtual activities that support Native Hawaiian-owned businesses.
Conquer you must! To that end, here are some of the things your chamber has done in the last eight months: adopted a new mission statement and developed a strategic plan to help guide our activities moving forward; implemented and recently rolled out a new member management platform and info hub which provides our members with greater visibility; collaborated with OHA and Waiwai Collective on a three-part virtual series focused on Native Hawaiian economic self-sufficiency; coordinated eight virtual workshops for aspiring entrepreneurs; partnered with the Royal Hawaiian Center to host Noʻeau Nights, a virtual ʻohana dining experience; and hosted the first-ever ʻŌʻō Awards Virtual Gala.
We have also increased the ways we incorporate ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and moʻomeheu (culture) as core foundations. We have increased the voice of Native Hawaiian-owned business through our new column in Ka Wai Ola and our Member Monday social media segments.
In addition, we partnered with the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, Kamehameha Schools, OHA, and CNHA to support KONO – Ka Leo O Nā ʻŌpio through a second dedicated column in Ka Wai Ola, as well as a website and social media platform where ʻōpio lead and share their voices on the critical issues of today.
While we are proud of what we have accomplished, there is much work to be done. Over the next year, we have an ambitious “to-do” list which includes adding new member benefits; continuing to provide virtual workshops and networking opportunities; offering in-person networking and educational opportunities; developing relevant programs aligned with our mission and goals with a renewed focus on growing our NextGen Network; continuing to support both existing Native Hawaiian businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs; and increasing our advocacy efforts and developing our legislative platform.
If any of this resonates with you, please connect with us and get involved so that your voice is heard and we can conquer what is to come together!
Shannon Edie is the outgoing president of the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce (NHCC). She is co-founder and president of Holomua Consulting Group, a Native Hawaiian, woman-owned firm that assists small businesses interested in federal contracting The mission of the NHCC is to mālama Native Hawaiians in business and commerce through leadership relationships and connections to economic resources and opportunities. Follow us @nhccoahu and join us at www.nativehawaiianchamberofcommerce.org