Entrepreneurs Tina Fitch and Meli James Share Advice at WFN

Meli James, President of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association (HVCA), and Tina Fitch, CEO and Co-Founder of Hobnob, at the Wahine Forum Network luncheon on May 11 at YWCA O'ahu's Elizabeth Fuller Hall.

Meli James, President of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association (HVCA), and Tina Fitch, CEO and Co-Founder of Hobnob, at the Wahine Forum Network luncheon on May 11 at YWCA O'ahu's Elizabeth Fuller Hall.

By Kelli Namba, MCBL Program Coordinator

On May 11, over 60 attendees came together for MCBL’s first talk-story formatted Wahine Forum Network luncheon featuring Tina Fitch, CEO and Co-Founder of Hobnob, and Meli James, President of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association (HVCA).

James, who also serves on the MCBL Advisory Board, hosted the session and asked Fitch various questions about her background, career and insights. Some key takeaways from the women included:

  • Being the only woman in the room isn’t a disadvantage because there’s an expectation that you have of yourself to be 10 times as good.
  • Nonprofits are beginning to be treated as for-profits where it’s important to have sustainable models and measurable impact.
  • Diversity is needed in the tech industry.
  • Balance doesn’t mean 50-50; things are always in flux.

Save the date for MCBL’s next WFN on Thursday, August 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. featuring a poolside chat with Catherine Ngo, President and CEO of Central Pacific Financial Corp., the parent company of Central Pacific Bank. For updates, please visit www.mcblhawaii.org/wfn.

Launch My Business™ Graduate Wins SmallBiz Editor’s Choice Award

By Kelli Namba, MCBL Program Coordinator

Photo Credit: Hawaii Business Magazine

Photo Credit: Hawaii Business Magazine

Launch My Business™ graduate and HI Cravings owner Jessica Kamana'o will be honored on May 4 at the 30th Annual SBA Awards & SmallBiz Editor's Choice Awards for winning in the New Business category.

After humble beginnings in 2013 selling acai bowls from her garage, Jessica enlisted the help of her husband, Kalani, and they began a crowdfunding campaign that raised $14,000 to open the first HI Cravings store. The company now operates at a walk-up window location in downtown Honolulu and at Ka Makana Alii in Kapolei, selling acai bowls that can be customized with toppings like fruits, and cookie dough to be “a healthy option by choice, or a delectable dessert by desire.”

The Kamana'o’s began coming to the Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership at YWCA O‘ahu in mid-2016 seeking business advice. After realizing they needed a formalized course that would help them understand how to start, run and operate their business, they decided to take Launch My Business™ together. They hope to continue growing their business by expanding to the neighbor islands and the mainland, but vow to remember their roots and continue their commitment of giving back to the communities that they serve.

Jessica and Kalani graduated along with eight other current and aspiring entrepreneurs in March as part of the MCBL’s eighth Launch My Business™ cohort. MCBL is currently recruiting its ninth cohort and a free orientation session will be held on May 11.

2017 Women Who Mean Business & Women to Watch Honorees

Congratulations to The Pacific Business News (PBN) 2017 Women Who Mean Business, and Women to Watch Honorees!

The Women Who Mean Business and Women to Watch honorees for 2017 are an exceptional group of Hawaii business leaders from industries ranging from banking to energy to health care to tourism.

This year’s honorees in the Industry Leader and Women to Watch categories were chosen from more than 150 nominations.

Last night we had the honor of celebrating our very own YWCA O'ahu CEO Noriko Namiki, MCBL Board Chair Susan Utsugi, Mink Leaders Farrah-Marie Gomes & Jennifer Hee. Way to go Ladies!! Thank you for being an inspiration to all!

Women Who Mean Business Honoree, Noriko Namiki, CEO of YWCA O'ahu and the YWCA Team.

Women Who Mean Business Honoree, Noriko Namiki, CEO of YWCA O'ahu and the YWCA Team.

Women To Watch Honoree, Susan Utsugi, MCBL Advisory Board Chair with Colleen McAluney MCBL Program Manager & Terri Funakoshi, MCBL Director.

Women To Watch Honoree, Susan Utsugi, MCBL Advisory Board Chair with Colleen McAluney MCBL Program Manager & Terri Funakoshi, MCBL Director.

The Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership (MCBL) Grand Reopening & Client Showcase

By Kelli Namba, MCBL Program Coordinator

 Jim and Joan Manke, Senator Michelle Kidani, Terri Funakoshi (MCBL Director) and Jeannine Souki (YWCA Oahu board member) in front of the desk belonging to the late Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink.

 Jim and Joan Manke, Senator Michelle Kidani, Terri Funakoshi (MCBL Director) and Jeannine Souki (YWCA Oahu board member) in front of the desk belonging to the late Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink.

The Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership (MCBL) Grand Reopening & Client Showcase was held on Tuesday, March 7 and featured a blessing and appearances by various dignitaries. The Center relocated in November 2016 to the lobby level of the historic YWCA Oahu Laniakea building in downtown Honolulu.

Governor David Ige attended the blessing and gave a passionate speech to attendees about the progress women have made professionally and the need to continue efforts set forth by the late Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink and others. He also joined the celebration after the formal program to speak to guests and visit the client showcase.

The event also included a display of Congresswoman Mink’s desk that was generously donated to MCBL by Mrs. Joan Manke, her former Chief of Staff. Mrs. Manke and her husband Jim, a close friend of the Congresswoman, were in attendance.

MCBL was also pleased to have Senator Michelle Kidani at the event. She played an instrumental role in helping YWCA Oahu obtain funding for the renovation of the Center’s new location through the Grants-in-Aid program.

Ms. Jeannine Souki, YWCA Oahu board member and chair of the advocacy committee, also attended. She is the Executive Director at Hawaii Public Charter School Network.

New MCBL Director, Terri Funakoshi, participated in the blessing, welcomed guests and gave a speech about the Center. Ms. Funakoshi joined MCBL in September 2016 and brings many years of retail expertise that she has been sharing with MCBL clients.

Other speakers that evening included Ms. Keala Peters, YWCA Oahu board vice chair and Director of Strategic Marketing at The Queen’s Health Systems; Dr. Farrah-Marie Gomes, Mink Leader and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UH-Hilo; and Ms. Colleen McAluney, MCBL Program Manager.

The event would not have been possible without the support of many individuals and groups. The MCBL staff extends its sincere appreciation for all those who have played a role in making the Center the wonderful place that it is today.