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SBA awards $5 million in PRIME grants to help emerging micro-entrepreneurs: The Kohala Center among recipients

September 22, 2017 - 1:15am

WAIMEA — Thirty-four community-based organizations across the United States that provide assistance to disadvantaged entrepreneurs will soon receive a combined $5 million in grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME).

The Kohala Center (TKC) is among these organizations that help low-income entrepreneurs gain access to capital to establish and expand their small businesses. Their PRIME award will total $150,000, to be made available Sept. 30 for a 12-month project period.

TKC will focus on delivering training and technical assistance services to three target groups: cooperatives, food hubs/farm-to-school suppliers and rural microentrepreneurs, with an emphasis on low-income and/or Native Hawaiian business owners, both of whom are PRIME priorities for this funding cycle. They will serve at least 50 cooperatives and/or enterprises on Hawaii Island, Molokai and rural areas of Oahu during the project period in areas such as business planning, capitalization (grant and loan application assistance), business and cooperative incorporation, farm and financial record keeping, certifications, partnership development and marketing assistance.

Key activities will include workshops, educational material development/distribution, one-to-one consulting and assistance, polling research to measure support development of farm-to-school distribution cooperatives and collaborative efforts with SBA and local Small Business Development Centers to increase participation in existing programs.

“We are honored to receive this grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to support our ongoing efforts to help rural Hawaii’s small businesses get started and expand their capacities,” said Liam Kernell, TKC’s director of communications. “This partnership will also help us further our commitment to assist socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs, strengthen our rural economies and create jobs, particularly in Hawaii’s agricultural sector.”

The Kohala Center’s Rural and Cooperative Business Development Services (TKCRCBDS) provides technical assistance in cooperative and business development to microenterprises operating in rural areas throughout the State of Hawaii. Its mission is to improve local economic conditions through the development of cooperative and small rural businesses, value chains, and regional industries, with an emphasis on job creation and family-supporting incomes; and to increase the involvement of local business, cultural leaders, representatives of potential new industries, local financial institutions, academic institutions and government agencies in rural economic development.

“One of my goals as administrator is to revitalize the agency and raise its profile, and in turn, revitalize a spirit of entrepreneurship in America,” said SBA’s Administrator Linda McMahon. “Our aim at the SBA is to encourage entrepreneurship that helps build the confidence, skills and resources that entrepreneurs need to start or grow businesses, to invest in their communities, to create jobs and grow our economy. I am proud to be part of an agency that provides assistance and support to organizations that help emerging entrepreneurs who lack sufficient training and education to gain access to capital to establish and expand their small businesses.”

PRIME was created by Congress as part of the Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs Act of 1999.

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