Maui Business

Purple Maiʻa Foundation Launching Entrepreneur Program for Minority Women/Moms

May 28, 2021, 2:18 PM HST
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Applications are being accepted for Hawai’i FoundHer, an entrepreneur accelerator program focusing on women-led businesses in Hawai’i.

The Purple Maiʻa Foundation, a non-profit technology education organization, is now accepting applications for Hawaiʻi FoundHer, an entrepreneur accelerator program focusing on wāhine-led businesses in Hawai’i.

The six-month pilot program will be tailored specifically to the needs of Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and/or Asian women and mothers running businesses in five core markets of Hawaiʻi’s economy: Tech, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Food Systems & Restaurants and Keiki & Education.

FoundHer seeks to bring together a cohort of five Hawaiʻi-based, for-profit, proof of concept-stage businesses where at least 50% of the founding team are female and of Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and/or Asian descent. Applications for the program are being accepted now through July 1, with the program launching in September 2021. Apply at www.foundher.org

Women entrepreneurs often need to overcome obstacles that men do not; start businesses at 2 times the rate of men; and in general generate a better rate of investment than men. Yet, women receive only 2-3% of all venture capital; are held to higher expectations of experience and technical know-how by investors; and are loaned less money by investors, according to the foundation’s news release.

“As women, founders, allies and builders, we see these as big, unaddressed problems in need of urgent change,” the news release said.

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FoundHer was created by minority women for minority women and provides research-tested resources critical to the success of an early-stage wāhine-led business. The program aims to provide: funding, child and elder care, workspace and mentorship. 

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Bella Hughes, co-founder of Hawaiʻi FoundHer, said: “Women and especially women of color are historically over-mentored and underfunded. The barriers to entry to build a new business with a clear path to profitability are increasingly more challenging and very few accelerators and incubators are designed to empower women entrepreneurs holistically.

“We are thrilled to offer a new program focused on Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women-led businesses that combines tailored mentorship with non-dilutive, early-stage capital to grow their business, coupled with support for those in caretaking roles, whether they have children or take care of their kūpuna.”

Darien Siguenza, Hawaiʻi FoundHer Program Manager, added: “Hawaiʻi FoundHer is a groundbreaking program that will bring resources to female entrepreneurs in a way that has never been done before. Our multifaceted approach serves women personally and professionally, which will give them the tools they need to grow at an accelerated rate.

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“I look forward to working with a group of passionate, driven women who are positively impacting Hawaiʻi’s culture and economy, and setting the stage for diverse women to take up space in the business world.”

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