This small business cohort is putting Molokaʻi entrepreneurs on the map

As a single mother of four daughters, Kanoelani Davis of Molokaʻi worked hard to bring her culturally inspired fashion business, PōMahina Designs, to a global reach.

Now, he co-founded Ho’akā Mana, a nonprofit organization that helps other Molokaʻi small businesses succeed through an accelerator program called Pūlauhala.

    PōMahina Designs at Merrie Monarch in April 2023.

Ho’aka Mana



PōMahina Designs at Merrie Monarch in April 2023.

“Being a small business owner, I had to learn all aspects of building a business and the way I built Pūlauhala was so that other small businesses can bypass all that work and find their resources more easily and be accessible. to capital, to funding, to knowledge, to mentoring, so it’s been very successful and I’m very proud of our small businesses that we have right now,” Davis said.

Ho’akā Mana is a Molokaʻi and Oʻahu-based Native Hawaiian organization that strengthens the presence of indigenous peoples in Hawaii and the mainland.

In collaboration with the Maui Economic Development Board and the Small Business Administration, the Pūlauhala program helps native entrepreneurs gain business intelligence. The program’s pilot cohort began in December.

“It’s for small businesses and entrepreneurs on Molokaʻi, whether they’re starting, emerging or establishing businesses,” Davis said.

He said the organization currently has about 18 active small businesses. Pūlauhala hosts workshops once a month on any type of business they want to learn, whether it’s social media, GE tax, events, or even building a website.

“A lot of times we have to figure things out on Molokaʻi, that’s the way it is here, we don’t have as many resources,” Davis said.

    Pala'ela'e Collective's Mana Mama T-shirt was popular at Merrie Monarch this year, according to owner Salana Adachi.
Pala’ela’e Collective’s Mana Mama T-shirt was popular at Merrie Monarch this year, according to owner Salana Adachi.

Davis has been a vendor at the Merrie Monarch festival for seven years with her business, PōMahina Designs. But this year she brought a special opportunity through Pūlauhala.

She hosted five other Molokaʻi businesses at Merrie Monarch, giving many of them the opportunity to showcase their work off-island for the first time. She was the largest display of Molokaʻi business at the famous hula festival.

“People were looking for the people of Molokaʻi and they wanted to support and they were so happy to meet Molokaʻi families and friends. One of the things I asked small businesses was, ‘What were you asked the most?’ And they said: ‘Are you from Moloka’i?’ And that was the most fun because I think people really appreciate seeing our people out there.”

Solana Adachi is the owner of Pala’ela’e Collective, which sells clothing for mothers and keiki. She nearly sold out of inventory leading up to Merrie Monarch and her Mana Mama shirt was especially popular.

“When I went to Merrie Monarch, everyone was like, ‘I need that shirt, I need that shirt,’ so it definitely put me out there as a business and we just shared my story with others and just made people aware of what my brand is. about,” Adachi said.

With the Pūlauhala pilot cohort still underway, Davis said he’s already planning a second round for next year.

For more information on Ho’aka Mana’s programs, click here.