Maui Business

$70,000 to be Awarded in InnovateHER Challenge

October 19, 2015, 12:30 PM HST
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MEDB_logo_CMYK_300dpiThe Maui Economic Development Board is seeking participants for the 2016 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge which will be held on three successive Thursday evenings in November.

The US Small Business Administration launched the InnovateHER Challenge with the goal of finding products and services across the nation that help impact and empower the lives of women and families.

The Bootcamp Workshop will be held on Thursday, Nov. 5, at 5:30 p.m. at the MEDB Malcolm Center located at 1305 N. Holopono St. in Kīhei to assist those who are interested in participating. The following Thursday, Nov. 1, at 5:30 p.m., the opening round will consist of a one-minute pitch competition. On Nov. 19, finalists will have five minutes to present their final pitch to a panel of judges who will select one winner. By Wednesday, Dec. 2, MEDB will submitto the SBA the name of the winner along with a Nomination Package containing a business plan and other requirement information.

In the semi-final round, the SBA will review the nomination packages subitted by all host organizations and select up to 10 finalists whose products or services best satisfy the challenge criteria and present the greatest potential for success. The finalists will be announced in January 2016; those selected will have an opportunity to go to the Washington, DC, metro area on March 16 and 17, 2016 as part of a larger Women’s Summit. There, they will make a marketing pitch to a panel of expert judges drawn from the private sector. Three winners will be chosen and awarded up to $70,000 in cash prizes. First place will receive $40,000; second place, $20,000; and third place, $10,000.

The SBA is looking for entrepreneurs to create a product or service that meets the following three criteria:

  1. have a measurable improvement in the lives of women and families (30%)
  2. have the potential for commercialization (40%)
  3. fill a need in the marketplace (30%)

The InnovateHER challenge is open to men and women, as well as corporations, nonprofits, academic classes and other teams. Participants must be at least 18 years of age, a US citizen or permanent resident and meet other eligibility requirements as defined in the Challenge rules.


According to the SBA, women now make up nearly half of the labor force and play a critical role in our nation’s economic prosperity. As the demands on women and families grow, the need to address their current challenges increases. The InnovateHER Challenge was established to provide this platform.

“MEDB is proud to be local host for the 2016 InnovateHER Challenge,” said Gerry Smith, MEDB director of business development. “Not only does this competition encourage entrepreneurship, ingenuity, and creativity, but it also has an even broader impact by improving the lives of women and families which ultimately contributes to the economic strength of our nation.”

For more information and to register for the 2016 InnovateHER Challenge competition on Maui, contact Smith at (808) 777-7550 or email [email protected].


Download the complete list of the challenge rules.

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