The last week of every month, we are reaching out to businesspeople and Maui Weekly readers who want to be in business. As president of the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, my job is to make sure our organization sticks to its mission, and part of that is educating and encouraging our community, especially Hawaiians, to succeed in business and commerce by practicing Hawaiian values.
Who goes into business? Studies show that children of parents who run businesses go into business themselves. Intelligence, wit or economic advantage are not as important as just growing up in a family that knows how to assume the risks of owning and managing a business. So what do you do if your parents couldn't teach you how to successfully manage risk?
In 2005, retired Judge Boyd Mossman gathered a small team of successful Maui businesspeople to answer that question--to figure out a way to encourage the next generation of Hawaiians to enter business. They came up with a plan that drew from the oldest Hawaiian tradition--mentoring. Kumu (teachers) and kilo (experts) of old passed on their skills to children of promise who had the desire to learn. Mossman's business team built a community business organization that would bring together successful seasoned business people and young entrepreneurs who want to start new businesses.
The Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce holds a community Business Fest every year at the Grand Wailea Resort.
Photo: Shane Teagarden Photography
Since fostering and maintaining reciprocal relationships is a key component of Hawaiian life, the organization would focus on mentoring, sharing and healthy competition--it would be comfortably "Hawaiian." They called it the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce.
After much discussion, it became clear to Mossman's startup team--Jimmy Haynes, Joe Kealoha, Rose Marie Duey, Lokelani Houpo, Al Pelayo, Clay Sutherland and Howard Kihune Sr.--that the business mission of the MNHCoC must be guided by all Hawaiian values, including: lokahi (unity), laulima (cooperation), po'okela (excellence), 'ohana (devotion to family), kuleana (responsibility), aloha (compassion), ho'okipa (hospitality) and ho'ohana (management). Yes, instruct how to plan and manage risk, but also teach and demonstrate values and behaviors that keep a company going through up and down cycles by encouraging excellence and nurturing long-term business relationships. They institutionalized the reality that "Hawaiian values are good business."
After seven years, there are new faces on our board of directors; people mentored into their positions by our founding members. We continue to fulfill our mission: to promote and sustain our Hawaiian culture, nurturing a strong community of Hawaiian values and to enhance opportunities for success in business and education. We reach out to the Maui community--to students making career decisions, to people starting their first business and to successful companies who want to mentor their employees to greater success.
MNHCoC promotes business and is, frankly, Hawaiian, but we are not exclusive. Membership is open to everyone. You don't have to be Hawaiian to support our mission of Hawaiian values and success in business, education and economic status.
We differ from other business associations because our focus is not on how to compete, but how to cooperate and go the distance. At MNHCoC, competitors and rivals work together to better themselves.
Another distinction is that we support private-sector commerce, but choose not to lobby government issues or endorse political candidates. We inform and educate our members in a balanced fashion and let them personally support the causes of their choice.
With mahalo to the Maui Weekly, we now reach out to you monthly to share how Hawaiian values and careful business planning pave the way to success in your business or nonprofit project. If you have a desire to start a business, but never figured out how to do it, ask a successful business owner to mentor you. That's how it works.
A hui hou!
For more information on MNHCoC, visit www.mauinativechamber.org.