2021 - Mahiʻai Match-Up Competition Open to Farmers & Agricultural Food Producers

Kamehameha Schools, Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement and The Kohala

Center collaborate in new Mahi‘ai Match-Up to build resilient economies


Farmers and food system entrepreneurs have the opportunity to grow their

business skills, complete a business plan and compete for agricultural land,

commercial space agreements.


Farmer Richard Kodani works the ‘ōlena (turmeric) fields of his farm, Mana ‘Ōlena, located on Kamehameha Schools lands in Pāhoehoe, South Hilo, on Hawai‘i Island. Kodani and Mana ‘Ōlena won the 2020 Mahi‘ai Match-Up business plan competition.

HONOLULU (Nov. 4, 2021) – Kamehameha Schools (KS) is partnering with the

Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) and The Kohala Center (TKC)

to strengthen Hawai‘i’s food system through Mahi‘ai Match-Up, a business

plan competition that provides food-focused entrepreneurs from across the

pae ‘āina with an opportunity to farm agricultural land or develop a

business in a commercial space.


Mahiʻai Match-Up is accepting applications beginning today from farmers and

agricultural food producers interested in entering the competition. As part

of the contest, CNHA’s KūHana program will provide applicants with classes

and guidance on developing business plans, pitching their business plans and

ongoing mentorship support, technical assistance and networking

opportunities.


Interested food systems entrepreneurs can apply both through CNHA's KūHana

at www.hawaiiancouncil.org/kuhana or through KS’ Mahi‘ai Match-Up at www.ksbe.edu/mahiai/mahiai_matchup/. The competition awards include an

agricultural land agreement on a KS parcel and, for the first time this

year, an agreement on a KS commercial property within Kapālama Kai, Oʻahu.

Winners will also receive start-up capital. The application window closes on

Dec. 10.


CNHA’s KūHana program is excited to open its sixth KūHana cohort with this

collaboration. "Our KūHana program is designed to meet businesses during

their development stages and to identify the best ways to support their

growth. And within the cohort, the participating businesses network and

support one another to work towards the collective goal of raising the

lāhui," said CNHA Chief Executive Officer Kūhiō Lewis. "We are proud to

partner again to broaden our reach and impact in the food systems economy."


Top business plans from the KūHana cohort will become finalists to compete

for Mahi‘ai Match-Up awards from KS. TKC will utilize its expertise to coach

the finalists with final business planning preparation and continued

business support services beyond the program. This partnership builds upon

previous collaborations to grow local food and economic security.


This is the eighth year that KS has supported agricultural and food systems

business plan competitions. Mahiʻai Match-Up supports start-up local farming

and food production ventures. While uplifting agricultural education and

innovative solutions to improve Hawaiʻi's food security, the effort also

bolsters KS' ability to deliver on its core educational mission while

driving the success of its tenants.


Mahi‘ai Match-Up is part of KS’ efforts toward growing Hawai‘i’s food

systems – increasing the productivity and resiliency of agricultural-related

businesses on KS ‘āina and building our campuses’ and consumer interest in

locally grown foods and services. Environmentally and economically

sustainable food production is a meaningful component of the Hawaiian

culture, a diversified economy, and overall well-being of Hawai‘i’s people.


"The success of our farmers and small businesses supports the overall

growth of agriculture and food industries, which are critical to a thriving

community,” said Kā‘eo Duarte, vice president of Kamehameha Schools'

Community & ʻĀina Resiliency. “Our hope is that the Mahiʻai Match-Up

competition will support our lāhui through the production of more healthy,

accessible and ʻono food. Strengthening the businesses feeding our

communities creates jobs that support our keiki and familes across Hawaiʻi.

We are proud to continue our work with CNHA and TKC to continue to grow food

systems entrepreneurs and ʻōiwi leaders.”


Mana ʻŌlena, a family-owned business which is growing ʻōlena (tumeric) and

ʻulu (breadfruit), won the 2020 Mahiʻai Match-Up competition and received a

$10,000 cash prize from Ulupono Initiative, waived rent for five years on KS

land in Hilo, and wrap-around business support services from TKC.


CNHA, KS and THC collaborated last year to uplift 24 food systems

entrepreneurs and award $135,000 directly to businesses. These

collaborations are a part of KS' food systems initiative that aims to grow

healthy and accessible food in Hawaiʻi to feed Hawaiʻi and beyond. KS

stewards more than 181,000 acres of agricultural lands. These lands produce

approximately 19 million pounds of food annually.


To learn more about Kamehameha Schools' food systems and agricultural

initiatives, visit www.ksbe.edu/mahiai.