Mālama Speech Therapy Services wins $25,000 in MEO’s Best Business Plan contest
Emily Steenberg’s plan to establish a brick and mortar Kīhei location for her comprehensive speech, occupational and physical therapy services business – and to fulfill a promise to her late business partner – captured the top award of $25,000 in Maui Economic Opportunity’s Best Business Plan Award competition.
A panel of local business leaders selected Steenberg’s Mālama Speech Therapy Services, LLC, plan for the top grant out of 37 submissions in the contest run by MEO’s Business Development Center.
Eight other plans received grant awards ranging from $14,000 to $5,000. BDC Director David Daly made the announcement on Dec. 5 in a gathering with all of the entrants, who completed the six-week Core Four business development course this year.
Council Member Tasha Kama used her district funds for the grant awards.
“Small businesses are at the heart of our local economy, and I’m excited to see the results of these entrepreneurs turning their ideas into revenue and jobs,” said Kama, a member of the MEO Board of Directors. “By supporting this important business education program and covering a portion of the winners’ startup costs, the County has helped launch these enterprises in the right direction – on a path to success.”
Steenberg, a Kīhei resident, runs the contracted licensed speech therapist business, which she started with her good friend and business partner Kim Brock in 2019. Their vision was to grow Mālama Speech Therapy into a full service business covering speech, physical and occupational therapy at a physical location in South Maui.
The expansion plans were put on hold when Brock died suddenly. Steenberg made a promise to Brock and herself to turn their plan into reality this year. She moved into an office this month and has plans to open two more locations in the next few years.
Two business plans garnered $14,000 grants. The company, owner and description of the business follow:
- So Real Ultrasound LLC, Sorelle-Brienne Malaikini, startup mobile elective ultrasound imaging service for expecting mothers on Maui Island.
- Studio Sides, Shelby Ohashi-Sides, a startup clothing company focused on creating one-of-a-kind hand-dyed silk garments for sale in select Maui retail stores and online.
Three business plans garnered $9,000 grants:
- Mountains to Water, LLC, Taryn Kama Givenchy, a startup water sports product manufacturing and distribution company, targeting the new sport of hydrofoiling.
- Hanapaʻa Welding Co, Daniel Jacintho, a mobile welding company specializing in all types of metal fabrication for the homeowner and commercial clients.
- Revolution Auto Body Hawaiʻi, Jonah Pagaduan, a full service auto body and paint repair business to be located in Wailuku.
Another three business plans garnered $5,000 grants:
- Little Fins Clothing, LLC, Maile Anderson, design and manufacturing of bamboo children’s clothing from infant to toddler.
- Maui Vegan Foods, LLC, Robin Kealiinohomoku, producing plant-based juices and alternative food products for retail and wholesale distribution statewide.
- Str8Chefin, LLC, Macy Hiro, a Moloka‘i business, providing mobile grab-and-go lunch and dinner at different locations island wide and private chef services for large parties or events.
Grants go directly to the startup businesses or to vendors chosen by the awardee. MEO’s BDC staff ensures grantees complete requirements to become a legitimate business in Hawaii, such filing registrations and tax forms, and works with the grantees on their list of vendors to be paid using grant-award funds.
“Judging was so difficult with so many wonderfully creative business ideas,” said Daly. “There will be businesses arising from those grant applicants that were not selected.
“We thank Council Member Tasha Kama for giving these nine entrepreneurs the opportunity to receive startup capital to turn their dreams on paper into reality, and the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, Mayor Michael Victorino and the Maui County Council for funding the MEO Business Development Center.”
The judges were Wayne Wong, director of the Small Business Development Center; Fred Rickert business advisor with Maui SBDC, and Gerry Smith, fiscal budget and control manager for the Maui High Performance Computing Center.
The grants were available for entrepreneurs completing the Core Four Business Planning course. The next Core Four course begins from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 3 to Feb. 7. The course will be held in-person at the MEO Family Center in Wailuku and livestreamed via Zoom. The course cost is $60; financial assistance is available.
For more information, contact Daly at the MEO BDC at 808-249-2990 or go to the MEO website at meoinc.org.