Maui Business

SBA InnovateHER Competition Applications Due Soon

November 6, 2015, 10:06 AM HST
Listen to this Article
3 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

innovate her flyer 1With the help of local organizations, three Hawai‘i finalists will be considered for the InnovateHER Challenge national competition in Washington, DC, in March 2016, vying for $70,000 in prizes.

SBA launched the InnovateHER Challenge in 2015 with the goal of supporting innovative small businesses across the US that help impact and empower the lives of women and families.

As the workforce has changed over the last several decades, data shows that women now make up nearly half of the labor force and play a critical role in the nation’s economic prosperity.

Today, most children live in households where all parents work outside the home. Families are also increasingly caring for aging family members and living longer. As the demands on women and families grow, the need for products, services, and technologies that address these unique challenges increases. The InnovateHer Challenge provides a platform for their development.

Through this national competition presented with Microsoft, SBA is looking for entrepreneurs with a new and innovative product or service that makes a positive difference in the quality of life for women and children. The agency has partnered with Maui Economic Development Board, the Patsy Mink Center for Business and Leadership, and Sultan Ventures to review and select three Hawai‘i finalists.


“Despite our reputation in Hawai‘i for being a tough place to do business, there is a tremendous amount of creativity and innovation that happens here,” said Jane Sawyer, district director for SBA’s Hawai‘i Office. “We are also very ‘ohana-oriented, so I expect there are a good number of viable entries from local innovators for this specifically focused competition. Think about ideas in healthcare, educational tools, fitness and nutrition, safety or simplifying tasks of daily living!”


The winning business plans and pitch will best meet the following three criteria:

  • The product or service will offer a measurable improvement in the lives of women and families (30%).
  • The product or service has the potential for commercialization (40%).
  • The product or service fills a need in the marketplace (30 percent).

The winners will be considered for the semi-final competition in Washington DC in March 2016 and cash prizes totaling $70,000.

In Hawai‘i, each host will determine the specific process for selecting their winners. A finalist from each host must be selected by Dec. 2, 2015.

  • MEDB: Maui Economic Development Board kicked off their campaign for InnovateHER on Nov. 5 with the preliminary judging on pitches to be held on Nov. 12 and finals on Nov. 19, 2015.
  • Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership: Applications are due on Nov. 20, 2015. Call 695-2635 for details.
  • Sultan Ventures: The application deadline is Nov. 16 to be consider for the Dec. 1, 2015, pitch competition in Honolulu.

SBA is encouraging business plans and pitches entries from all sources: higher education, accelerators, incubators, business assistance programs, R&D teams, inventors and makers. T

his challenge is open to citizens or permanent residents of the US who are at least 18 years of age at the time of their submission of an entry (or teams of such individuals); and two private entities that are incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the US. Eligibility details may be found online.

Download the complete list of the challenge rules.

$70,000 to be Awarded in InnovateHER Challenge

E-Mail Newsletters Receive daily or weekly updates via e-mail. Subscribe Now
News Alerts Breaking news alerts on your mobile device. Get the App


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Maui Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments