Hawaiʻi FoundHer is the first and only early-stage accelerator supporting NHAAPI women, providing both direct funding and mentorship. Our program is targeted toward women entrepreneurs looking to scale their early-stage businesses, with a focus on businesses that are at least 50% owned by Native Hawaiian and AAPI women. FoundHer works with businesses in the areas of technology, fashion, health & wellness, food systems, and keiki (children) & education—industries with clear, direct ties to the community.
FoundHer is specifically designed for the needs of NHAAPI women in Hawaiʻi, based upon findings from participants in the Purple Prize, and from the experience our AAPI program founders had as they grew their businesses and careers. When designing FoundHer, we took the time to interview small business owners and program stakeholders, identifying the resources that NHAAPI women need most.
FoundHer is a six-month business accelerator program. We provide non-dilutive grant capital and flexible family care stipends, designed for the multigenerational, informal care system in Hawaiʻi. We knew we had to include family care as a key component of the program, as existing accelerators do not support women holistically.
We develop a bespoke business development curriculum tailored to the needs of the cohort. Experts lead workshops on topics including marketing, e-commerce, HR, fundraising, and more. We hold monthly retreats across the Hawaiian Islands to strengthen our roots in Hawaiian culture, create networking opportunities, and build cohort bonds. Companies are paired with 2-3 mentors to work with during the program. We give each business tools to reach new development milestones, have a stable income to support their families, and provide products and services that are good for Hawaiʻi's communities.
FoundHer has high levels of community buy-in. Our mentor list spans five of the Hawaiian Islands, demonstrating that locals believve this program is needed throughout Hawaiʻi. Our network consists of government officials, cultural leaders, and successful NHAAPI women entrepreneurs: Senator Laura Acasio; Naehalani Breeland, founder of Ola Brew; Ane Bakutis of esteemed clothing line Kealopiko; and Mahina Paishon-Duarte, a highly-regarded Hawaiian educator and leader. We provide our participants with direct connections to these mentors, which is invaluable.