National Entrepreneurship Week Reaches Out to Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi

February 26, 2018, 10:31 AM HST · Updated February 27, 9:19 AM
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2018 Mom-and-Pops Forum on Molokaʻi (left to right): Kuulei Arce, the manager at the MEO Molokaʻi Business Development Center ; Yolanda Reyes, the MEO Molokaʻi Branch Director; Nicole Fisher, MBB organizer and owner of Skywriting by Nico. Photo Courtesy Maui Business Brainstormers

As part of National Entrepreneurship Week, a series of forums titled “The State of Mom-and-Pop Shops in Maui” were held across Maui, Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi.

The goal of the forums was to re-ignite the dedication to local small businesses in Maui County and expand the mind-share of small businesses with customers in the local community. Each forum was customized for the local community, with agendas ranging from panels to “talk story” to local facilitators, focusing on open discussion by the participants.

The Molokaʻi forum took place Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 at Maui Economic Opportunity in Kaunakakai. Hosts for the event were Kuulei Arce of MEO Business Development Center – Molokaʻi branch, and Grace Fung and Nicole Fisher, co-organizers for Maui Business Brainstormers.

The event’s goal was to provide a forum for local participants to share ways to strengthen the business health of their Mom and Pops, and to ensure the longevity of such businesses into the future.

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The meeting in Kaunakakai brought together several local business people with aspirations to be successful for their families, their community, and their business. In the passionate discussion about how to achieve such multi-level success, the two most often repeated words were “Honor” and “Aloha”.

Participants discussed the current business environment, uncovering the differentiators that make Molokaʻi unique. By expressing one-of-a-kind stories that make each business special, the business owners found synergies that they can relay, online and in person, to further the strength of the business community overall. The participants agreed that there is an opportunity to partner together for a common marketing focus. Other future goals include exploring ways to grow, which might include approaches to inject more storytelling into their brands, or training in marketing and presentation skills to help their businesses get to the next level.

The Lānaʻi forum also took place on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at ILWU in Lānaʻi City. Hosts for the event were Alberta de Jetley of Lānaʻi Today, and Lori Fisher, co-organizer of Maui Business Brainstormers.

2018 Mom-and-Pops Forum on Lānaʻi
(left to right): Kathy Carroll, owner of the Lānaʻi based Michael Carroll Gallery; Alberta DeJetley, owner of Lānaʻi Today; Lori Fisher, MBB organizer and owner of Fisher & Fisher. Photo Courtesy

The Lānaʻi City session focused on identifying the strengths of the existing business environment, identifying the unique differentiators of the business offerings on Lānaʻi, and building common themes and branding that can be reinforced by all Lānaʻi-based businesses.

The business owners in attendance analyzed the unique attributes that bring visitors to Lānaʻi and that keep local business on the island, and brainstormed on marketing approaches for several market segments, such as day visitor, kama’āina from Maui County, or local residents.

“The forum gave us all new ideas to think about and follow up on, and so many ways to work together that will help us all in the long term,” said Kathy Carroll, owner of the Lānaʻi City-based Mike Carroll Gallery.

Participant Judi Riley of Tiki Tales thanked Maui Business Brainstormers for bringing out the passion and commitment businesses have to the island of Lānaʻi. “It was a productive session, but it was also a beautiful reminder of why we simply love Lānaʻi,” she said.

Maui Business Brainstormers also held similar Mom and Pop Forums across Maui, including Pāʻia, Wailuku, and Hāna, during last week’s National Entrepreneurship Week, as well as an all-day student workshop with the Business Academy at Kamehameha Schools Maui.

The week-long event was designed to help reset business approaches as well as inspire more initiatives across the Mom-and-Pop business community as a whole, creating a stronger network of businesses that drive the overall market for all.

National Entrepreneurship Week took place February 17-24 across the US.


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