By Andrew Rosen
Consider this: about 50% of small businesses fail after five years. It is believed that, for Native Hawaiian-owned businesses, the percentages are higher.
Those stats are unacceptable, and the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce (NHCC) set out to help increase the success rate of micro and small businesses by 20% in five years.
With that goal in mind, Hoʻomana was born.
NHCC members met in person, Monday – Wednesday, 7:30-9:30 a.m., two weeks per month, to plan Hoʻomana’s pilot program.
The program has three modules: Building a Stronger Business Plan, Creating a Brand Identity Development Guide, and Marketing. With this information, entrepreneurs can market to their target consumers more effectively and efficiently.
Hoʻomana became a reality when the Mayor’s Office of Economic Revitalization (OER) raised their hand to help launch this important initiative.
OER, Executive Director Amy Asselbaye said, “The Office of Economic Revitalization supports Oʻahu’s small businesses by connecting them to programs and the resources necessary to start-up and thrive for the long term. We are excited to partner with the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce on the Hoʻomana pilot program. By working together, we will create an economy that is more diverse and equitable.”
NHCC leaders met with Vance Roley, dean of UH Mānoa’s Shidler College of Business, which is committed to helping the Native Hawaiian community. He connected us with their Department of Marketing Chair Dana Alden, who introduced us to Drs. Qimei Chen and Kelly Holden.
“We were delighted to have the opportunity to partner with the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce in the inaugural Hoʻomana program,” Roley said. “We feel it was a great opportunity for us to help small Native Hawaiian businesses to succeed. We look forward to future cooperative efforts.”
It was time reach out to the Native Hawaiian business community and find up to 10 participants, of which eight qualified and completed the program. We asked for them for their feedback, and these are some of their comments.
“When you are a small business owner, it often feels like you are on your own,” said Kawehi Onekea of Onekea Bros. General Store. “There is a lot of information available, but who has the time to study and evaluate it all?
“Hoʻomana provided actionable information I could trust. The facilitators, professors, and cohort members provided (and continue to provide!) the support and community I need as a solopreneur.”
“The NHCC cohort has not only expanded my way of operating and planning my business but opened up my network to Hawaiian business operators alike,” noted Rene Julian of AC Cleaning Hawaiʻi.
“Through the Hoʻomana Program, I connected with fellow Native Hawaiian businesses, gained a deeper understanding of how to position my architecture and project management business to ensure that my team creates spaces that inspire and are authentic to the Hawaiian culture, history, and ecology,” commented Caly Di Mattia of Vernacular Pacific.
With Hoʻomana completed, the real work begins. Implementation is key. We will continue to supply feedback as participants continue their journey to long term success. And yes, Hoʻomana will be back soon!
If youʻd like to learn more about Hoʻomana please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Rosen is executive director for the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce and a long time member. Contact Andrew at email@example.com.