Creating Commerce

Business Center hosts Resource Day.    

By Melissa Kelsey

For an island of old, family establishments where new ideas can involve piles of bureaucratic paperwork, Molokai might seem like a daunting place to start a business. But for Molokai Business Resource Day attendee Suzanne Olsson, new businesses are one avenue toward creating an even more sustainable lifestyle for Molokai’s residents, building a thriving micro-economy.

“I feel positive and hopeful for Molokai,” said Olsson. “We have so many resources here.”

Molokai Business Resource Day provided resources and training for Molokai entrepreneurs at the Kuha`o Business Center in Kaunakakai last Wednesday. The event was sponsored by the County of Maui Office of Economic Development and the State of Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Molokai Small Business Specialist Annette Pauole-Ahakuelo said most attendees were either newcomers to Molokai or were returning home after having lived off-island. Lots of people are starting their own businesses as a result of having trouble finding employment, according to Pauole-Ahakuelo. During regular business hours, Kuha`o Business Center offers free assistance to Molokai residents who have a goal of starting their own business.

“Our center is very special and we try to make it as Molokai friendly as possible,” said Pauole-Ahakuelo. “If aunty does not know the answer, we can find it together.”

Olsson was one of ten community members who attended a workshop entitled “Starting a Business in Maui County” as part of the day’s events. How to obtain a federal identification number for a business, how to register a business and how to write a business plan were just some of the entrepreneurial skills presenter Anna Ribucan, County of Maui Small Business Advocate, broke down for her eager audience.

“You do not give birth to a teenager, you give birth to a baby,” said Ribucan, explaining the importance of starting small when designing a business plan.

Ribucan said small businesses are the backbone of the economy because their revenue goes back to the community and creates jobs. She advised that it may be safer to start a business that serves the basic needs of the community, such as food, clothing, shelter, safety and recreation. On the contrary, businesses selling luxury items are more risky.  

After the presentation, the participants had the chance to schedule one-on-one business counseling the same afternoon with county specialists.

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