Our Islands, Our Future
Women-Owned Small Business Certification Benefits

Women-Owned Small Business Certification Benefits

Over many years, Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), the Small Business Association (SBA), and the Women’s Business Enterprise Council (WBEC) have collaborated to offer the Women in Business Seminar Series. The series’ purpose is to introduce local small businesses to information, resources, and networking opportunities. One such resource is SBA’s Minority Owned Small Business (MOSB) Certification, which includes women-, veteran-, and minority-owned small businesses. 

“WBEC is one of the official certifiers for SBA Women-Owned Small Business certifications,” said Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO. “Businesses can get certified as being 51% owned and operated (minority, women, veteran) in order to qualify for special consideration in government and private contracts and to participate in a sponsor company’s Supplier Diversity Program.” 

Gary Albitz, MEDB Business Consultant, added, “Once certified, a business has many benefits available. MEDB encourages qualified business owners to open these new doors of opportunities. An example on Maui is Brandy Cajudoy from Cajudoy Construction LLC, who has seen the advantages of being certified as a women-owned business. MEDB is available to help anyone interested in getting the WBEC certification.” 

Cajudoy shared, “Both the MEDB Women in Business Seminar Series and my WBEC Certification have provided me with an abundance of opportunities…now I am able to bid and obtain county, state, and federal jobs. They have seriously helped my business going forward.” A math teacher for 12 years at Kamehameha Schools before starting her own construction company, Cajudoy does specialized, commercial, and residential construction. Her business was hugely impacted by the Lahaina fires, which eliminated two existing projects. “I have been working to recover and restart,” she explained. “There are few women-owned construction companies in Hawai’i. In order to finalize my certification process, I sat down one day, locked the door, and put my nose to the grindstone to crank out the paperwork.” 

Cajudoy concluded, “For a small business in construction, it is almost impossible to not be successful with all the support from the county and the state. I envision a promising future for all WBEC-certified businesses. Take the certification leap!”  

Interested business owners can contact MEDB for assistance. More information about certification is available on the SBA website:  

The certification process is rigorous; however, once certified, businesses will have access to another level of opportunities.

Brandy Cajudoy, Cajudoy Construction LLC

Maui food innovation center

Maui food innovation center

During a recent Maui TechOhana meeting organized by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) and supported by the County of Maui, participants learned about the inspiring work being done at the Maui Food Innovation Center (MFIC) located on the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College (UHMC) campus. Ian Stewart, UHMC Entrepreneurship and Business Development Specialist for the Pā‘oihana Program, was joined by Chef Douglas Paul to explain the work being done at the MFIC. Attendees discussed the benefits of the first value-added food manufacturing incubator and accelerator in Hawaiʻi and learned about the entrepreneurial programs and services available at MFIC. The presenters also shared some of the success stories emerging from the program.

The work done in the MFIC Laulima Education, Research, and Test Kitchen facility, with its attached classroom, is focused on the food and manufacturing industry. The 1,500 square foot space has $90,000 in specialized equipment, and MFIC plans to install a remote camera system to enable statewide distance learning. Along with the manufacturing facility, the program provides technological expertise, innovative training, and consultation. Serving as a resource hub for new and established food businesses, students, farmers, ranchers, chefs, and restauranters, the program also helps bring products to market locally, regionally, and nationally.

“Through education and access to industry leaders, our vision is to help develop cottage-size companies into medium-sized food manufacturers in the state of Hawaiʻi,” said Chef Paul. “The MFIC shared-use food business incubator and processing facility offers a vast array of resources and technologies to foster growth in our community.”

Stewart’s current role at UHMC has him encouraging entrepreneurship as part of a Minority Business Development Agency issued grant. “Supporting our Native Hawaiian food business owners, local food systems, and fresh produce industry is more important than ever,” Stewart noted. “Maui’s wildfire challenges and the current economy make it vital for our island to be self-sufficient and resilient when it comes to growing food.”

Dylan Schwarzmeier of Veg-Out shared, “MFIC is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who wants to bring a small-idea food product and turn it into a scalable market. MEDB’s TechOhana meetings provide an essential boost to help our local community succeed in every way possible.”

This excellent Maui TechOhana meeting gave everybody the opportunity to see innovation happening, not only in technology, but also in Hawaiʻi’s agriculture and food production.
Candace Shaw, CEO, Astute Consulting

Adaptive Capacity For Your Business

Adaptive Capacity For Your Business

The 12th Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) Women in Business Seminar Series webinar, Adaptive Capacity and What It Means for Your Business, was presented in partnership with the Women’s Business Enterprise Council (WBEC). Supported by the SBA Community Navigator Pilot Program, and the County of Maui, WBEC is one of the official WOSB Certifiers for SBA Women Owned Small Business certifications. Businesses can get certified as being a 51% owned and operated (Minority, Women Veteran) in order to qualify for special consideration in government and private contracts, and to participate in a sponsor company’s Supplier Diversity program.

Guest speaker Pamela Stambaugh, president and founder of Accountability Pays, Inc., talked about adaptive capacity and how to respond to the challenges and uncertainty brought about not only by the Maui wildfires of August 8th, but also ongoing turmoil in politics, industry and society. 

An ICF certified executive coach who has practiced as a Behavioral Change Master for over 30 years, Stambaugh discussed the importance of accountability coaching and leadership effectiveness training to elevate performance on what matters the most. For clients, this has included raising operating results, upgrading team performance, and creating a culture of trust and open authentic communication. She has worked with global, small and midsized companies across many industries.

“Adaptive capacity is the ability to adapt quickly and appropriately, given different opinions and limited by blind spots and uncertainties,” Stambaugh said. “We can get trapped in our heads, stopped by circumstances, and bring less than our ideal selves to conversations. When it comes to managerial roles, this is important because a manager’s behavior has impacts. My presentation covered the delicate balance between internal and external forces, and choices made.”

The workplace is changing faster than ever, and so are the issues facing both employees and administrators. “The speed of change, responding to new and competitive forces, and keeping up with accelerated existing trends in remote work, in addition to employee upskilling and reskilling, increases the stress on businesses,” Stambaugh noted. “These demands are actually a continuum of leadership accountability and capability that must be balanced to lead in these challenging times.”

You can watch replay at

Adaptive capacity is one of the most important topics affecting Maui and our state since the August 8th wildfires. Pamela offered insightful messages to the participants on how to move forward. Annette Lynch, MEDB Director of Communications

Planning For Your Business Succession

Planning For Your Business Succession

In partnership with the Women’s Business Enterprise Council (WBEC), and supported by the County of Maui and the SBA Community Navigator Pilot Program, Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) presented a seminar in the Hawaii Women in Business Seminar Series, ‘Planning For Your Business Succession’. With the workforce constantly changing, people come, go, and move into new roles within a company. Over 70 percent of small-business owners want to pass their business on, but only 15 percent actually do. Succession planning can help make the most of that change and prepare businesses for the next generation of leadership.

Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO, said, “Our Women in Business Seminar Series assists those preparing their business for success in the near and far future. In this seminar, participants were given concrete advice for a healthy future for their company.”

Guest speaker, Marianne Ellis, CEO and co-founder of CEO Success Community, has provided inspirational, real-world counsel to thousands of women- and minority-owned businesses. An inspiring business leader and coach, she is an advocate for clients seeking corporate contracts with Fortune 500 companies. Working with WBEC and other organizations, Ellis teaches the fastest path to increased revenue, growth, and a succession plan. She is also an Amazon best-selling author. Her book, ‘Women in Business Leading the Way’ features influential women CEOs sharing their insights on how to overcome challenges that female business leaders face in a variety of industries.

“In this interactive session, we discussed the basics of creating and maintaining a succession plan,” Ellis explained. “ Topics included: How to build a business succession plan; Choosing a power of attorney; Identifying a CEO successor; Easing tax exposure; Tax efficiency strategy; Trusted advisors; and Planning the next chapter. This event was ideal for business owners, managers and CEOs of organizations and non-profits.”

Participant Brandy Cajudoy, RME Cajudoy Construction LLC, reflected, “This seminar gave me a great start to put my business succession plan together. Ellis provided a roadmap to follow with her seminar workbook. Thank you, MEDB, for presenting such helpful information to our Maui community.”

David Campbell, Temptation Tours added, “I received so much more valuable information than I ever expected. Thanks, MEDB!”

Start as soon as you can to plan your company’s future. After all your hard work, preserve your company to continue the jobs and income you created on Maui. Marianne Ellis, CEO & Co-Founder, CEO Success Community

Federal Resource Fair and FEMA Update

Federal Resource Fair and FEMA Update

On Saturday, August 19th, U. S. Representative Jill Tokuda from Hawaii’s 2nd District and her staff held a Federal Resource Fair for individuals, families, and businesses who have been impacted by the Maui wildfires. Hosted by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) at their Ke Alahele Center in Kihei, Tokuda worked tirelessly to support survivors in search of information on replacing important documents. “We brought together local, state, and federal agencies in one place so those who have lost so much can receive immediate help,” said Tokuda. “The destruction of the community and stories of loved ones lost or still waiting to be found are devasting. My team and I will continue to support the Maui community as resources are mobilized to assist survivors.”

Several hundred residents attended the event. Participating federal agencies included: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), disaster aid; Social Security Administration, social security support; State Department, passport replacement; U.S. Postal Service, mail support; Veterans Benefits Administration; U.S. Department of Agriculture, farm service agency, rural development, and agricultural support for producers and communities; HUD and MEO, housing, language assistance, disability rights, Native Hawaiian healing, and more.

Due to the higher than expected attendance and the appreciation expressed for the welcome help, the Resource Fair will be repeated this Saturday (August 26th) at a location in Kaanapali to be determined – watch for announcements on social media and local news outlets. Those who cannot attend can request individual assistance on Tokuda’s website:, or call the Hawaii District Office at 808-746-6220.

Additional updates for those displaced include hotel housing provided through a FEMA   program, which the Red Cross is administering under a contract with the state of Hawaii. While survivors are in hotels they will receive exactly the same services available now at the shelters: meals, mental health support, health services support, spiritual care, financial assistance and casework. Those who need housing can call 1-800-733-2767 for more information. To register for FEMA assistance call 1-800-621-3362, visit the FEMA disaster assistance website (, download the FEMA assistance app ( or visit the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center, open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the University of Hawaii Maui College. FEMA specialists are helping people register for disaster assistance, connect with volunteer organizations, and have access to federal and state resources.

The road ahead to recovery will be long and challenging, but our communities are tough. We will pull together, help each other, and we will rebuild! U. S. Representative Jill Tokuda, Hawaii’s 2nd District

STEMworks™ Ag Business & Technology Internship Program

STEMworks™ Ag Business & Technology Internship Program

Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) showcased their STEMworks™ Ag Business and Technology Internship Program at the 2023 Maui County Farm Bureau Maui AgFest & 4-H Livestock Fair. Through the program, students in grades 9-12 and college undergraduates have the opportunity to gain experience in multiple industries within the agriculture sector to find their interests, build their resume, and become career-ready. These experiences provide invaluable work-based learning for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) students, not only to explore professional pathways, but also to work on meaningful projects using industry-standard technologies.

“The purpose of the Ag Business & Technology Internship program, now available for fall, spring, and summer semesters, is to provide students with opportunities to explore careers and gain hands-on learning in a field of their interest, which they would not get in a classroom setting,” said Britney James STEMworks Agriculture Program Specialist. “MEDB comes to the Maui AgFest & 4-H Livestock Fair each year to promote the program and the Ag industry in general. We need more youth going into the Ag industry and hopefully this program inspires them to consider it, or at least gives them a better understanding of the industry.”

Baldwin High School student Mylez Planesi Kauhola said, “I interned at Waipono Farm Aquaponic & Hydroponic Greenhouse at UH Maui College. Learning about how to take care of the fish and how to farm certain plants using all water and no dirt, has made me interested in learning more about how to do hydroponics and raising fish. I am always excited to learn new things.”

Lae’ula Kaauwai, 9th grade homeschooler shared, “I am an intern at Sust’āinable Molokai’s Mobile Market, where I’m learning how they connect farmers with customers for locally-grown food to supply the community’s needs. I also want to learn how to help my community in every way I can.” 

STEMworks marketing intern Emma Jane Roy, Baldwin High School 10th grade, added, “I created social media posts for each of the students, created the presentation for our showcase, designed flyers, and the intern booklet. I learned about the different aspects of marketing, which is my career aspiration.” 

Ag Business & Technology Internship requirements include attending weekly virtual professional development meetings, and presenting at the final showcase. Plus, interns receive a stipend upon successful completion. Britney James, STEMworks Agriculture Program Specialist

Hawaiian Electric & Hawaii Gas Talk Story

Hawaiian Electric & Hawaii Gas Talk Story

In a featured talk, “Sharing Our Visions, Opportunities and Challenges in the Energy Industry”, at the 2023 Hawaii Energy Conference (HEC), Shelee Kimura, President and CEO of Hawaiian Electric, and Alicia Moy, President and CEO of Hawaii Gas, discussed Hawaii’s energy future from the perspective of their companies. Moderated by Jacqui Hoover, Chair, Conference Program Committee; Executive Director and COO, Hawaii Island Economic Development Board; and President, Hawaii Leeward Planning, the conversation was both informative and encouraging.

Hoover asked, “What message do you both want to send to the energy sector and to our communities?  What goals can be filled and how do your two companies complement each other?”

Kimura said, “Hawaiian Electric’s economy-wide decarbonization plan includes every sector. We hope to adopt the 2030 aspirational goal to reduce our carbon emission by 50% in the state’s economy and then by 70% in the electricity sector. Hawaii Gas just filed their long-term plan which is intended to help Hawaii reach our 100% renewable energy goals by 2045. Our individual paths are very unique, but when we frame them together, which we must now, we can get things done. We are both working to get clean energy projects permitted, interconnected, and operational in a reasonable amount of time. Hawaii Gas is an important part of that. They are exploring carbon-free fuel for the long-term. Our challenge is to act and execute while we continue to innovate. We need to make these things happen at the same time. It is not easy.”

Moy added, “Shelee and I have bonded over Hawaii’s energy solutions, especially for the future of our next generation. I feel that there has been a shift. Once there was that competition,  but now we know our future depends on working together. Hawaii Gas is focused on how Hawaii will meet its climate goals and the role we will play. If the state needs a recovery from any crisis, Hawaii Gas will be part of the solution. By increasing the amount of hydrogen blending in the pipeline plus other new technologies and innovations, there are new opportunities opening for all of us.”

It is achievable to reduce carbon emissions by more than two-thirds over this decade if everyone pitches in. Both of our companies want to create a cost-effective, sustainable, and resilient energy system for future generations. Shelee Kimura, President & CEO, Hawaiian Electric, Alicia Moy, President & CEO, Hawaii Gas

Akakū at a Glance

Akakū at a Glance

Daniel ‘Danny’ Weiss, Akakū’s new Maui Community Media Marketing Manager, is a team player with a passion for building community relationships. With an arts and sciences outlook, Weiss, a mulit-media storyteller and dedicated environmentalist, conservationist, endangered animal rights documentarian, and social justice advocate, is a perfect fit for Akakū.

An independent, non-profit corporation established in 1992, Akakū promotes the creation of media by, for, and about the community. They are staffed with a highly trained group of veteran media professionals and technicians in the film, video, television and radio fields. Programing three local cable television channels, 53, 54, and 55, Akakū serves its audiences on Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Additionally, their public radio station, KAKU 88.5 FM, ‘The Voice of Maui, is a vital community resource for independent news, commentaries and music.

“Akakū is the place where every Maui Nui resident can have a voice and showcase the diversity of our islands,” Weiss said. “It’s a place to discuss, to innovate, and to bring media literacy and civic engagement to the people. Our mission, to ‘Empower the Community’s Voice Through Access to Media’, is more important now than ever to preserve and enhance our culture and heritage.”

A beacon of free speech, Akakū provides production services, facility and equipment rentals, education and training initiatives, and information to residents on topical issues with Maui Nui’s only televised (and award-winning) news program, The Maui Daily. “On the best islands in the world, where anyone can come and talk story, Akakū is the place people go to produce and submit video on just about anything,” said Weiss. “Most of it is local. All of it is non-discriminatory, non-commercial, uncensored and unfiltered.”

The popular community event Akakū Upstairs is an ongoing public engagement, held in their second-floor suite in Kahului. Weiss explained, “By featuring a variety of events with speakers, screenings, panels, and workshops, our goal is to elevate community and conversation through this free salon series every Third Thursday of the month. There is no admission fee, but with our limited seating, registration is required. We hope members of the community will continue to join us.”

Akakū, meaning ‘reflection’, as in a mirror, is a vital resource serving all the communities of Maui Nui.” Email for more information. Danny Weiss, Akakū Marketing Manager

BrainTrust, Web3, and AI  

BrainTrust, Web3, and AI  

The latest Maui TechOhana meeting about AI (artificial intelligence) filled the venue with a discussion on one of the most currently talked-about subjects, a theme the community found worth exploring. Organized by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) and supported by the County of Maui, the event provided an informal networking opportunity open to those interested in Maui County’s technology industry. Each invited speaker includes a short presentation on a relevant topic in business or technology, followed by the opportunity to talk with others having similar professional interests.

Maui-based guest speaker Mark Williams, keen to connect with participants, comes from a technology consulting background and has worked across multiple industries with clients such as Microsoft, Mercedes Benz R&D, NASA, AT&T, and T-Mobile. His interests include blockchain, artificial intelligence, and how emerging technologies can improve our lives. Williams talked story about his career journey in tech and explored some real-world examples of blockchain and Web3, including an exploration of AI and its potential impacts, good and bad. Williams has spent the last four years as VP of Infrastructure at BrainTrust Network, a marketplace that connects organizations directly to top technology talents. The company’s first hire, he helped catapult BrainTrust into a $100M+ Web3 juggernaut. 

“Founded in 2018 and based in San Francisco, BrainTrust operates as a user-controlled talent network,” Williams explained. “The network aligns the interests of both experts and enterprises. We aim to help the best-qualified realize all of their potential, with access to high-paying jobs, ownership through the BTRST token, transparency, and opportunities for learning and growth. Through AI, a human-programmed system designed to operate within specific perimeters and perform specific tasks to enable problem-solving, there is a burgeoning of new technologies; used not only at BrainTrust, but throughout society in various fields.”

Maui resident and participant Rachel Campbell reflected, “We learned in a very clear way how the internet enables new ways of doing business, ways most people have not thought of yet. One of those ways is allowing general access to AI tools. AI is easy to misunderstand, so seminars like TechOhana are very valuable. Thank you MEDB!”

AI is a new wave of technology, encompassing sub-fields of machine learning and deep learning, which is becoming more routinely available to entrepreneurs using the internet. Mark Williams, BrainTrust Network, VP of Infrastructure