Our Islands, Our Future

Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) recently presented a triple session in their popular Women in Business Seminar Series. In partnership with the Women’s Business Enterprise Council (WBEC) and supported by a SBA Community Navigator Pilot Program Grant and the County of Maui, two seminars and a networking session were held consecutively on one day. The event covered information about getting certified as a 51% woman-owned small business, (WOSB), veteran-owned (VOSB), or minority-owned small business (MOSB) to qualify for special consideration in government and private contracts. According to Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO, “These workshops help business owners understand the numerous benefits of becoming certified.”

The day began with Dr. Pamela Williamson, President and CEO of WBEC West, who offered vital tips, coaching, and technical assistance to minority business owners on how certification can expand their business. In this fast-paced and interactive session, entitled ‘Elevate Your Pitch’, participants learned how to create an elevator pitch that is tailored to their organization’s key competencies. The panel of professionals from Sony, Visa, Disney, Walmart and Chase Bank offered participants the best ways to connect with large corporations and tips on how to leverage their small-business status. The panel also voted for the best elevator pitch, naming Donna Davis, Esq., for her affordable, sustainable housing proposal.

“Having a WOSB, MOSB, or VOSB certification helps to gain competitive advantages,” Williamson explained. “Certification is still a best-kept secret that needs to get out and be shared. Once certified, a person has many advantages available to help them succeed.” 

After the second workshop, ‘Why Being Certified Matters’, presenter Maria Boykin, WBEC West Certification Program Manager, reflected, “Today’s MEDB workshops were significant for us as an organization because we got to connect with women in businesses that can actually impact the economic vitality of Maui. That is what WBEC is about. We not only want to see women’s businesses grow; we want to see the community where they reside grow.”

Maui resident and participant Carolynn Guy noted, “What an informative day! We learned why and how to get certified, and the professional representatives gave such incredible feedback to the people who pitched their business ideas. This information is priceless.”

All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

It is through these kinds of partnerships with MEDB, SBA, and today’s team of professionals, that we are able to tell about the programs available to 51% minority-owned businesses. Pamela Williamson, PhD, WBEC West President & CEO