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Shidler business kickstarters pivot to raise funds for Maui recovery

Shidler students launch crowdfunding campaigns to support Maui businesses affected by fire

A group of students from the Shidler College of Business at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa have launched two crowdfunding campaigns to help Maui businesses recover from the devastating fire that swept through Lahaina in August 2023. The students are part of the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) Kickstart program, which provides mentorship and training to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Kickstart Maui: A community-driven initiative

The first campaign, called Kickstart Maui, aims to raise $50,000 to provide grants and loans to small businesses that were impacted by the fire. The campaign is hosted on the crowdfunding platform Kiva, which allows donors to lend money to entrepreneurs around the world. The students hope that by supporting local businesses, they can also help preserve the culture and heritage of Maui.

“Maui is more than just a tourist destination. It’s a place where people live, work and create. We want to help these businesses get back on their feet and continue to serve their community,” said Kiana Kamalu, one of the student organizers of Kickstart Maui.

Shidler business kickstarters pivot to raise funds for Maui recovery

The campaign has already received support from several local organizations, such as the Maui Chamber of Commerce, the Maui Economic Development Board and the Hawaiʻi Small Business Development Center. The students have also partnered with Kiva’s local trustee, Hawaiʻi Community Lending, which will help vet and disburse the funds to the eligible businesses.

Lahaina Strong: A creative showcase of resilience

The second campaign, called Lahaina Strong, aims to raise $25,000 to produce a documentary film that will highlight the stories of resilience and recovery of the Lahaina community. The campaign is hosted on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, which allows donors to back creative projects in exchange for rewards.

The students plan to use the film as a tool to raise awareness and funds for the long-term recovery efforts in Lahaina. They also hope that the film will inspire other communities that face similar challenges.

“We want to show the world that Lahaina is not just a place that was burned by a fire. It’s a place that has a rich history, a vibrant culture and a strong spirit. We want to celebrate the people who are working hard to rebuild their lives and their businesses,” said Ryan Lee, one of the student organizers of Lahaina Strong.

The campaign has already received support from several local filmmakers, such as Brian Kohne, who directed the award-winning film Kuleana, and Anthony Kaauamo Jr., who produced the documentary Aloha Surf Hotel. The students have also partnered with Pono Productions, a local production company that will help with the filming and editing of the documentary.

A learning opportunity for future entrepreneurs

Both campaigns are part of the PACE Kickstart program, which is designed to help students develop entrepreneurial skills and mindsets. The program consists of workshops, mentorship sessions and pitch competitions that challenge students to create viable business ideas.

“The PACE Kickstart program is a great opportunity for students to learn how to start and grow a business from scratch. They get to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world problems and opportunities,” said Peter Rowan, executive director of PACE.

Rowan added that the students’ crowdfunding campaigns are also a testament to their social responsibility and leadership.

“These students are not only learning how to be entrepreneurs, but also how to be changemakers. They are using their creativity and passion to make a positive impact on their community. They are showing what it means to be Shidler students and UH alumni,” he said.

Both campaigns will run until October 31, 2023. To support Kickstart Maui, visit here. To support Lahaina Strong, visit here.

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