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Mahi‘ai Match-Up

Investing in Entrepreneurs Invested in Hawai‘i’s Food System

Kamehameha Schools and Ulupono Initiative is strengthening Hawai‘i’s food system through the Mahi‘ai Match-Up, a business plan competition that provides food-focused entrepreneurs from across the pae ‘āina with an opportunity to gain the necessary capital, mentorship, and skills to create thriving businesses building more economic resiliency and agricultural sustainable for our Hawai‘i.


Program overview

Mahi‘ai Match-Up aims to create a robust centralized program that highlights and promotes food systems related business growth and development, ignites innovative agriculture solutions, fosters community connections, and creates educational pathways within our local food system.

What’s in it for you

  • Cash prize for business development
  • 1:1 3-month business coaching & mentorship
  • Tailored suite of resources that target your business scaling needs
  • Access to a network of local industry experts

Theme: Native Hawaiian crops

The 2023 Mahi‘ai Match-Up program focuses on Native Hawaiian crops and invites applicants dedicated to cultivating indigenous and ancestral crops to apply. This year’s theme represents Kamehameha Schools’ work to revitalize the traditional foods that nourished Hawai‘i’s people for centuries and reintroduce these crops to modern cuisine.


Award categories

MMU will select three different food systems focused businesses that meet a set criteria, and demonstrate strong market potential and commitment to growing sustainability within Hawai'i that fall under the stages of business growth and development outlined below.

Investment and expansion

This entrepreneur and business is one that is looking for the resources to get their company ready for investment (i.e. due diligence, financial analysis, pitch development, etc.). This business will feed into the pipeline for the Food Systems Investment Fund.

Growth and scaling

This entrepreneur and business is one that is seeking strategic training, resources, and mentorship to address scaling challenges (i.e. manufacturing, accounting, marketing & branding, operations, HR & hiring, etc).

Development and launch

This entrepreneur has a business plan idea and is seeking foundational structure support to grow their business from conception. They are looking for resources around business plan development, sourcing, technical assistance, brand development, website development, etc.).


Cash prize and 3-month business mentorship

MMU will award three food-systems focused businesses a cash prize + access to suite of business development resources.

Post competition, awardees will be matched with a business coach/ mentor. Through the 3-month MMU Mentorship Program, awardees will receive tailored business coaching to address key scaling bottlenecks i.e. business plan development, finance, operations logistics, hiring, HR, technical assistance, sourcing, manufacturing, marketing, e-commerce, and shipping.

Mentors will provide sound recommendations for best use and allocation of the cash prize. Collectively, mentors and entrepreneurs will agree on 1-3 milestone goals that they will work towards and complete by the end of the 3-month period.


PRIZE 1: $25,000

PRIZE 2: $10,000

PRIZE 3: $5,000


Application process and timeline

Pitch Coaching / Practice

Pitch Day

‘Aha ‘Aina Pauahi: Winners Announced and Awarded