Women-led businesses dominate Mana Up’s third cohort

Women-led and neighbor island-based businesses dominate Mana Up’s third cohort. Seven of the 10 companies are founded and led by women, six are based on neighbor islands and one-half are from Hawaii Island.

“There’s no lack of entrepreneurship in Hawaii, and that spirit is spread across the islands,” notes Meli James, Mana Up co-founder. “What’s particularly great to see is that the businesses are thriving. Our previous two cohorts are growing and hiring, and we expect that to be true of this cohort as well.”


“We’re also thrilled to continue our partnership with Hawaiian Airlines to support flights for neighbor island companies, making their participation in Mana Up possible,” James added. “The companies come to Oahu weekly, and neighbor island companies in Cohorts 1 and 2 benefitted immensely from the opportunity to expand their network during the program.”

The following Big Island companies were selected for Mana Up’s third cohort (* donates women-founded and led):

• FUSED Hawaii, www.fusedhawaii.com. * Founder: Roxelle Cho. FUSED creates functional swimwear with the hope of inspiring women to live confidently in their own skin. FUSED empowers a community of women who are brave enough to share their stories.

• Kaimana Jerky, kaimanajerky.com. Founders: Christopher Cho, Leonora Cho, Sheldon Cho, Rose Angay and Leonard Angay. Kaimana Jerky was founded out of love for the ocean and creating unique products through its resources. Though delicious and high-quality protein snacks, Kaimana Jerky fuels people’s mind and body

• Liko Lehua, www.likolehua.com. * Founders: Diane Kanealii, now operated by Dawn and Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder. Liko Lehua is a Hilo-based cafe and gourmet butters company inspired by the fruits of Hawaii. A family-operated company, Liko Lehua’s mission is to provide secure livelihoods for their community by teaching and encouraging staff toward personal growth and to create a place where guests and staff are ohana.

• Short N Sweet, www.shortnsweet.biz/. * Founder: Maria Short. Short N Sweet is a bakery based in Hilo, featuring a variety of delectable and original baked goods, derived from blending Hawaiian ingredients with the creativity of classically French-trained chef Maria Short.

• Western Aloha, westernaloha.com. Founder: Paul Sullivan. Western Aloha makes everywhere-able clothing and gear inspired by the spirit of aloha and the Big Island. From beach to bar, sea to snow and Waimea to Waikiki, you can happily wear Western Aloha.


Mana Up is an initiative to create Hawaii’s next 100 product companies earning more than $10 million annually and based in Hawaii. Mana Up has a 12-week accelerator program offered biannually to support Hawaii product entrepreneurs scaling their businesses by providing mentorship, leadership training and access to sales channels.

For more information, visit manauphawaii.com.

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