OHA and the global and local capital markets


Dan Ahuna, Vice Chair, Trustee, Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihauLast month I wrote about OHA’s dual role to our beneficiaries, where I explained that OHA, on one hand, must manage and grow our land and financial assets while, on the other hand, spend from our financial assets in the present moment for the betterment of Native Hawaiians.

In today’s contemporary market economy, we do both by participating in the capital markets. In short, capital markets connect investors and funders (like OHA) with for-profit and non-profit organizations who have great projects and ideas but little capital. It is our fiduciary responsibility to maximize our participation in the capital markets to gain as high a return on investments as possible whether they are financial returns to grow our asset base or social returns to better our people.

How does OHA participate in the capital markets?

You can think of us as an intermediary between the big for-profit realm of government and corporate bonds, the stock markets, real assets, and the international flow of currencies, and the smaller non-profit realm of furthering Native Hawaiian socio-economic and cultural advancement. In this light, OHA participates in both the for-profit and non-profit capital markets. In OHA’s current capacity we participate in the for-profit capital markets by investing in global and domestic stocks, bonds, cash, and real assets so that the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund (NHTF) may increase its spending power over time; and we draw from these potential earnings and turn around and invest them in our communities through grants and loans. From every angle you look at OHA, you will see that the way we operate begins and ends by participating in some form in the for-profit or non-profit capital markets.

In this light, OHA’s entire existence is to use the global capital markets to uplift Native Hawaiians in our local capital markets.

How does OHA participate in our local Native Hawaiian capital markets?

Currently, we participate in the Hawai‘i-based capital markets with a lens that focuses this participation on the socio-economic advancement of Native Hawaiians. We engage the Hawai‘i-based capital markets as investors and funders in three broad ways. These are:

  1. Grants
    1. Community Grants: Large, institutional, programmatic, competitive.
    2. Kulia Grants: Small, institutional, programmatic, competitive.
    3. Sponsorships: Institutional, events, promotional, non-competitive.
  2. Loans
    1. Mālama & Hua Kanu Loan Programs: Small business, working capital
    2. Consumer Micro-Loan Program: Personal, emergency
  3. Hawai‘i Direct Investments: Hawai‘i real assets (land/property).

Seen through the above three methods of participating in the Hawai‘i-based capital markets, it is clear that OHA has made a strong effort in understanding the capital needs of our beneficiaries and we are working to fill these gaps to the best of our ability. This is not to say that OHA can and should do more in filling more of the capital needs of our beneficiaries. Therefore, we are currently reassessing how the landscape of our beneficiaries’ socio-economic situations are evolving and maturing and we are excited to align our investments and funding with these evolving needs. We look forward to bringing more money and resources back into our local native capital markets as the socio-economic symbiotic relationship between our organization and our peoples’ needs matures and blossoms. We look forward to having this conversation with you in the near future and please reach out should you have questions and comments on further aligning OHA capital with beneficiary needs.