Gary and Kūkui Maunakea-Forth, founders of MAʻO Organic Farms, are among the local entrepreneurs who will share the social impact their operations have had on the state’s economy as a result of the Kamehameha Schools-sponsored Hawaiʻi Investment Ready (HIR) program.
The entrepreneur presentations are part of an event entitled, “Scaling Social Enterprise in Hawai‘i,” slated for Wednesday, November 19 from 2:15 to 4:00 p.m. at KS Kapālama’s Kaʻiwakīloumoku Hawaiian Cultural Center.
Kamehameha Schools, KL Felicitas Foundation and Social Impact International partnered to create HIR in 2013. The facilitated peer-to-peer learning program supports the sustainability of social enterprises – businesses that solve social problems on a large scale – by equipping entrepreneurs with knowledge of branding, business modeling and financial analysis.
“HIR’s goal is to share strategies and raise resources to empower Hawai‘i’s social entrepreneurs – both for and not-for-profit – with relevant skills to enable them to scale their enterprises and increase their impact as local business owners in Hawai‘i,” says KS alumna Lisa Kleissner, president of the KL Felicitas Foundation and co-leader of the Hawaiʻi Investment Ready program.
“These modern-day businesses are addressing poverty, at-risk youth, poor nutrition, sustainable resource harvest, Hawaiian culture and language normalization, the development of sustainable enterprise for island living and more.”
MAʻO Organic Farms – a Waiʻanae business cultivating organic food and young leaders – was among 15 businesses in the program’s inaugural cohort and was chosen last year by other cohort members to be awarded $75,000 in investment capital by the KL Felicitas Foundation. Various degrees of funding were secured for the other businesses as well.
“We’ve been inspired and motivated by the people and projects of this HIR cohort,” says Gary Maunakea-Forth. “It is humbling and gratifying to be acknowledged by a group of peers that we have so much respect for.
“The $75,000 has helped us expand our organic farming and youth education pathway operations. But the experience, learning, mentorship, and camaraderie of the program have seriously been more important that the money.”
HIR’s inaugural cohort of innovative social enterprises includes several businesses supported by Kamehameha Schools. Hui Kū Maoli Ola – specializing in native habitat restoration and landscaping; and Street Grindz – which operates Honolulu Night Market and Eat the Street, the largest food truck rally in Honolulu; are both members of the cohort, and operate their businesses on KS land.
“We are tremendously impressed by the leadership emerging in communities across our state and are grateful that many operate social enterprises on our land or have a business focus that is aligned with the KS mission,” says KS Land Assets Division Director Neil Hannahs.
“We have provided resources through Hawaiʻi Investment Ready to support their professional development, but some of the most valuable lessons came from the inspiring life stories and values of these amazing individuals.”
Recruitment for HIR’s second cohort
Recruitment will begin for Hawaiʻi Investment Ready’s second cohort in January 2015. Members of the cohort will have the opportunity to participate in the six-month capacity-building program sharing best practices in financial, social, environmental and cultural sustainability.
Interested investors, prospective participants, entrepreneurs, bankers, educators and anyone curious about the program and its benefits are encouraged to attend the November 19 “Scaling Social Enterprise in Hawai‘i” event.