Hawaiʻi FoundHer – By Purple Mai’a

Hawaiʻi FoundHer – By Purple Mai’a

Over the last 5 years the Purple Maiʻa Foundation (PMF) has successfully run a number of statewide entrepreneurship and innovation programs that have empowered local, underserved, Native Hawaiian founders to generate over 50 new ideas and a dozen companies.

Hawaiʻi FoundHer – By Purple Mai’a

Over the last 5 years the Purple Maiʻa Foundation (PMF) has successfully run a number of statewide entrepreneurship and innovation programs that have empowered local, underserved, Native Hawaiian founders to generate over 50 new ideas and a dozen companies. Its founders and staff have also been directly involved with most of the recent Hawaiʻi-based companies that have gone on to participate in other local accelerator programs. Additionally, many of our staff members are NHAAPI women with a variety of professional backgrounds. We understand the challenges that our participants face first-hand, and are able to lead this program with our expertise and empathy.

About the Organization:

Over the last 5 years the Purple Maiʻa Foundation (PMF) has successfully run a number of statewide entrepreneurship and innovation programs that have empowered local, underserved, Native Hawaiian founders to generate over 50 new ideas and a dozen companies. Its founders and staff have also been directly involved with most of the recent Hawaiʻi-based companies that have gone on to participate in other local accelerator programs. Additionally, many of our staff members are NHAAPI women with a variety of professional backgrounds. We understand the challenges that our participants face first-hand, and are able to lead this program with our expertise and empathy.

organizational budget

2 MILLION - 3 MILLION

existence for

6-10 YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

National • Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • District of Columbia • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Idaho • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Kansas • Kentucky • Louisiana • Maine • Maryland • Massachusetts • Michigan • Minnesota • Mississippi • Missouri • Montana • Nebraska • Nevada • New Hampshire • New Jersey • New Mexico • New York • North Carolina • North Dakota • Ohio • Oklahoma • Oregon • Pennsylvania • Puerto Rico • Rhode Island • South Carolina • South Dakota • Tennessee • Texas • Utah • Vermont • Virginia • Washington • West Virginia • Wisconsin • Wyoming

organizational budget

2 MILLION - 3 MILLION

existence for

6-10 YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

National • Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • District of Columbia • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Idaho • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Kansas • Kentucky • Louisiana • Maine • Maryland • Massachusetts • Michigan • Minnesota • Mississippi • Missouri • Montana • Nebraska • Nevada • New Hampshire • New Jersey • New Mexico • New York • North Carolina • North Dakota • Ohio • Oklahoma • Oregon • Pennsylvania • Puerto Rico • Rhode Island • South Carolina • South Dakota • Tennessee • Texas • Utah • Vermont • Virginia • Washington • West Virginia • Wisconsin • Wyoming

The Issue:

Hawaiʻi FoundHer was designed to address the specific challenges faced by Native Hawaiian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (NHAAPI) women founders, identified by the programʻs founders, Isabella Hughes and Gloria Lau. Throughout their respective careers, Isabella and Gloria came up against roadblocks and discrimination based on gender and race. Their experiences, combined with the enormous economic impact that Covid-19 had on women-led small businesses, inspired our team to launch this program.
Women-led startups receive less than 2-3% of VC funding each year. Over the past decade, Latinx women-led startups raised only 0.32 percent; black women raised .0006 percent. ​Data for Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Asian and multiracial women does not seem available.
Nationwide studies show that women are the drivers of small business growth in the United States. As of 2019, 13 million women-owned businesses accounted for 42% of all businesses in the US, employing 9 million people and generating $1.9 trillion in revenue. Additional studies show investments in companies with female founders performed better than those with all-male founders. Businesses founded by women deliver 2x per dollar invested as those founded by men.
Women carry multiple responsibilities: raising children, maintaining homes, and pursuing careers. In Hawaiʻi, it is common for NHAAPI households to be multigenerational where women are caretakers of both children and elders. The cost of living and care is high, and the child and eldercare system is informal. This is why an unconstrained care stipend was a non-negotiable element of our program. FoundHer is a critical resource to grow women-led businesses and serve as an empathy-based model for any accelerator that serves mothers. FoundHer creates a more stable, community-based economy by supporting these businesses.
We believe that our program is an essential resource to grow women-led businesses and serve as an empathy-based model for any accelerator that serves mothers. Our program supports women through funding, mentorship, and family care stipends. We believe these resources will create a future where Hawaiʻi’s women are resilient, thriving, and serving their community’s interests.

The Solution:

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.

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