Mana Up to fuel expansion of Hawaii-grown, value-added products

Ten local companies are ready to take on global expansion. Selected as Mana Up's first cohort, these 10 businesses are already selling market-tested, value-added products and can state unequivocally that they are authentic representatives of the Hawaii brand. All are entwined with Hawaii's agricultural sector by either growing their own crops or sourcing raw ingredients from local farms. Each company makes a premium product geared towards enticing a global audience, in part because of their roots in Hawaii.

"The ten companies we selected for our first cohort represent the future of our economy by showing how a product from Hawaii can be a competitive advantage rather than a prohibitive cost. This cohort has already achieved remarkable success by taking advantage of Hawaii's strengths and authentically integrating Hawaii's brand into their own. Yet, the deciding factor was that we see tremendous potential for each company to grow internationally because of the caliber of the product and entrepreneurs," remarked Meli James, one of three Mana Up co-founders.

The 10 were selected from 85 applicants who had enough traction in the market to earn annual revenue far surpassing Mana Up's requirement of $100,000. The 12-week Mana Up program, beginning January 17, is designed to help these companies scale for broader market expansion.

"Hawaii's agriculture is at a turning point. Over the past thirty years or so the big monocrop producers have been shutting down operations. When this trend started it was tough to find farmers to farm these large acreages of fields. Today, we have a mix of farmers, but we've seen small to mid-size farmers struggle to create economically profitable businesses," says Dana Sato, Director of Asset Management (Oahu) at Kamehameha Schools, "we're thrilled to see innovative companies finding a product mix that can keep food production local, maximize use of the land, and allow farmers stable and profitable sources of income."

If Mana Up is right about these products, this is only the beginning of their trajectories. The public will have the opportunity to meet the entrepreneurs and learn more about the products at Mana Up's cohort 1 showcase on April 27 in Honolulu. Registration is now open at manauphawaii.com

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