By Shannon Edie
The close of another fiscal year brings change. Itʻs a time for reflection, planning, and a renewal of kuleana with fresh eyes and new vigor.
As new leadership takes over at the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce (NHCC), we take time to reflect on all we have accomplished and the work to come. We started with a new strategic plan in 2019 focused on increasing member engagement – not only with pilina amongst members but also with the community. We committed ourselves to ʻauamo our kuleana to steward new opportunities for Native Hawaiian businesses and professionals and to increase policy and advocacy work at all levels of government.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we pivoted to keep our members and the Native Hawaiian business community updated on crucial resources to keep businesses going. We worked with federal agencies, local government and private enterprise to create consistent communication centered on robust opportunities for Native Hawaiian small businesses.
Access to capital was at the top of the list. Cash forecasting, leveraging loans to grow businesses, alternative lending resources and finding private investment opportunities were most in demand. Among the top services needed were increasing access to small business accounting, business plan creation, financial planning, taxes, marketing, and market research.
In partnership with the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA) and the neighbor island NHCC, and with the support of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Association, Kamehameha Schools and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, we launched Kuhikuhi, an online directory of Native Hawaiian businesses. Kuhikuhi is user-friendly, easy to maintain and update, and most importantly, it provides a centralized database that makes listing and finding Native Hawaiian businesses simple. This provides increased access for customers and great exposure for small businesses.
In the new year, we were determined to help grow the voice of Native Hawaiian small businesses at the State Legislature. We also wanted to contribute to the future leaders and business owners in Hawaiʻi, by providing opportunities for our ʻōpio to be heard.
Our survey at the beginning of the year identified the economy, the environment, Native Hawaiian rights and housing as top concerns for Native Hawaiian business owners and professionals. We partnered with Ka Leo O Nā ʻŌpio to provide legislative training and engage with elected leaders and government officials on top issues like the Red Hill crisis, Senate Bill 3359 which would appropriate $600 million for DHHL, House Bill 1960 repealing the GET for nonprofit fundraising revenue, and House Bill 1974 which would increase access to state contract opportunities for small businesses.
As we gear up for a new membership year that starts this month, we set forth a challenge. E keʻekeʻehi kūlana i paʻa. ʻO ʻoe hoʻokāhi, ʻo wau hoʻokāhi, kū mai i mua. Take a firm stand. You, by yourself, and I by myself, let us step forth.
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