May 25 2010

Sad Day for Hawaii’s Entrepreneurs as Hawaii Women’s Business Center Closes

Published by at 6:38 pm under Hawaii

"Entrepreneur Nurturing"

Another Resource Sadly Lost in Honolulu

Last week there was sad news announced in the Pacific Business News as the Hawaii Women’s Business Center (HWBC) closed its doors. The center at 1041 Nuuanu Avenue opened in 1998 with startup money from American Savings Bank and the U.S. Small Business Administration. While the name implied it only worked with women entrepreneurs, the center help men too.

HWBC Fundraiser Event Dec 2009

HWBC Fundraiser Event Dec 2009

I had been a member for many years. Taking advantage of their networking, business mentoring and their affordable workshops on everything from building your brand to website development.  In fact I owe the creation of this blog to the workshops I took with Nate Burgoyne at the HWBC. Without those classes I would never have been able to learn the skills necessary to navigate building Elephant Ear blog.

Congresswoman Hirono at HWBC Member Event

Congresswoman Hirono at a HWBC Member Event

The HWBC was a place I greatly enjoyed going. The staff and volunteers I worked with were remarkable individuals. Ms. Kay Lorraine the former Executive Director, Ms. Jody Hagen, the amazing and marvelous volunteer who was there every day and my HWBC Business Development Specialist, Ms. Cherylle Morrow. Cherylle, an Australian native, was such a great listener and supportive voice. Over the years she advised me on a variety of projects, connecting me to the right people. In fact, there were many people and volunteers who made the HWBC such a wonderful community resource, and for that I am grateful.

In this challenging economy, the HWBC’s essential and affordable services are needed now more than ever. It concerns me as I wonder where entrepreneurs will go to get help and guidance. To my knowledge there isn’t another affordable network in Honolulu.  It makes me very sad because the HWBC was truly living up to their mission of “entrepreneur nurturing”. All the best to the staff, board of directors and volunteers who made the HWBC such a special place. I encourage you to leave them a positive message and best wishes below. (Photos: Cara Mazzei)


10 responses so far

10 Responses to “Sad Day for Hawaii’s Entrepreneurs as Hawaii Women’s Business Center Closes”

  1. Larkon 26 May 2010 at 9:52 am

    This is a shame!

    One wonders if the Hawaii Community Foundation could not come to the rescue after the Oct. 2009 infusion of $50 Million into their coffers from the Pierre Omidyar family. Would not the Hawaii Woman’s Foundation be a truly worthy and proven recipient?

  2. caramon 26 May 2010 at 10:08 am

    Thank you for your feedback Lark. That would be amazing if private investor came in and saved the day!

  3. Valon 26 May 2010 at 2:42 pm

    hi cara – it’s great you were able to learn from and find help at the Hawai’i Women’s Business Center. it’s sad that it was another casualty of the economy.

    here’s a link i just found with a list of organizations that help entrepreneurs:

    best of luck to you and everyone who was part of HWBC!

  4. caramon 28 May 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Aloha Val – thank you for your positive comments and that link!

  5. Alcianon 28 May 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Aloha Cara, I was there until the very end maintaining the HWBC website and Constant Contact. I was finally able to see the entire Small Business Adminstration Awards Luncheon from beginning to end. It was a very sad day because I knew within a weeks time the doors would close. I still miss working there. After four months of being a temporary worker for Hawaii Teacher Standards Board, they finally hired me. It was difficult at the start answering the phone saying, “Hawaii Women’s Biz, I mean Hawaii Teacher Standards Board. Hope you are well. Take care and God bless.

  6. caramon 29 May 2010 at 9:45 am

    Alcian!!!! SO nice to hear from you. How could I have not mentioned you in my blog? All your great work on the website! Thank YOU for all your efforts at HWBC. I miss the center too. Congrats on your new position and all the best to you and your family. ox Cara

  7. Kay Lorraineon 02 Jun 2010 at 2:35 am

    I cannot think of anyone who is more saddened by the news of the close of operations of the Hawaii Women’s Business Center than I am. The years that I spent as Executive Director were both frustrating and rewarding. As a former entrepreneur, coming from a family of entrepreneurs, I felt a particular passion for the work that we were doing during the years that I was there.

    There are no villains here; or there are may villains here, depending on how you look at it. But the Women’s Business Centers all over the country have been on a systematic program of ever increasing deliverables while funding has constantly being decreased.

    I do not think that this is the place for me to air my frustrations. But for those who are interested in some insight into this problem, I address this issue in my latest blog entry at

    The loss of the Hawaii Women’s Business Center is more than just unfortunate. It is a blow to small business in Hawaii and should be a serious concern, as it is indicative of several serious problems in our community.

    I am delighted that you found the Center helpful, Cara. I will certainly be open to any suggestions of ways that we can restore these services, either through the WBC model or through a new venture.

  8. Kathy Kamauuon 02 Jun 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Thank you for a great tribute and all of the responses.
    Hawaii Women’s Business Center was my first business contact when we moved back home to Hawaii from California.
    Kay, Cherylle, Alcian and Jody were gracious in helping me offer a couple of workshops there.
    I introduced them to Nate and he did some wonderful workshops as we can see with this blog.
    Alcian – so happy to hear your good news. They are lucky to have you.
    Wailana (my husband) has been fortunate to have Jody work for him part-time at New York Life.

    I wonder if Hawaii Community Foundation couldn’t still come in and save the day. But I fear it is too late. Cherylle – any thoughts about that?

    Aloha to all, Kathy

  9. caramon 03 Jun 2010 at 9:15 am

    Thank you for your comment Kathy – that would be great if the HCF could come in and save the day! Aloha – Cara

  10. Solina Wilhelmon 27 Jun 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I am very unhappy about this. It’s reminds me how oppressive people can still be to women and our needs.

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