Maui Food Innovation Center wins SBA Growth Accelerator award
KAHULUI – President Obama last week announced the winners of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition at White House Demo Day, with one of the awards going to the Maui Food Innovation Center (MFIC) at the University of Hawaii Maui College.
The competition recognizes entrepreneurship and innovation to create a diverse and inclusive small business community.
The Maui Food Innovation Center will receive $50,000 to support a business start-up program, the Maui Accelerator Program (MAP), targeting women and minority-owned enterprises, including Native Hawaiian led businesses.
MFIC was one of eight selections made by a special panel of the SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs for programs that will serve Native American, Native Alaskan and Native Hawaiian populations.
Funds will be used to create a selective process to choose participating food companies, create a team of food industry mentors, design a website for the program, and develop the event that will culminate in a public pitch by the selected companies.
As part of the program, MFIC will seek participation by angel investors, venture funders, public sector agencies, private foundations and individual philanthropists to participate in or financially contribute to the program.
“The partnership between the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce and the Maui Food Innovation Center is a natural because we share many of the same goals,” said MNHCoC President Doreen “Pua” Canto. “Mentoring the next generation of Native Hawaiian entrepreneurs will be easier with the support of the SBA Growth Accelerator Fund.”
“The Maui Food Innovation Center is an important program that will offer both the training and facilities needed by local food entrepreneurs to build a small business,” said UHMC Chancellor Lui K. Hokoana.
“We’re excited the project has been recognized nationally, and this additional award will increase learning opportunities for students.”
The program will be developed in partnership with the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, InnovateHawaii, Maui Economic Development Board, MEO Inc., and the County of Maui.
These organizations have been working together in the Business Development Alliance to sponsor training and events for entrepreneurs, such as the Made in Maui County Festival and MEDB’s StartUp Weekend.