Rising up: Hawaiian Kine Trading Co. wins Mahi‘ai Scale-up competition

Hawaiian Kine Trading Co. is the winner of the 2021 Mahi‘ai Scale-up business plan competition, which helps established local farms and food system organizations grow their businesses.

Hawaiian Kine Trading Co. will receive a $45,000 cash prize as well as business coaching and services from The Kohala Center. In its seventh year, the competition is a part of Kamehameha Schools’ Mahi‘ai a Ola program that aims to strengthen Hawai‘i’s agriculture industry and food systems for future generations.

Dallas Stewart and husband, Sean, founded Hawaiian Kine Trading Co. in 2018. With experience in retail, the Stewarts created the boutique distribution company to share Hawaiian culture with the world by placing Hawaii-inspired snacks and goods on shelves worldwide. From developing a recipe to perfecting a product and transporting it to market, Hawaiian Kine Trading Co. supports its Hawaii-grown small business partners every step of the way.

“My company really doesn’t exist at the forefront,” Dallas Stewart, a 2004 Kamehameha Schools — Kapalama graduate, said. “We really are standing behind and uplifting others. We work with farmers and other value-added processors. So, as we rise, we hope to bring them up with us. In the end, it’s those connections, those human connections – that’s the important part. A journey like this is very reflective.”

Second place, with a prize of $35,000, went to Ahiki Acres, a small farm on Oahu, which took root in the winter of 2018 under the guidance of GoFarm Hawaii’s AgPro program. Through Ahiki Acres, co-owner Haley Miyaoka strives to improve the island’s food security by connecting food-conscious people with local, organic produce to support sustainable eating and the local food system while practicing responsible stewardship of aina (land).

“The winnings from this competition will help to accelerate my business plans to expand production and effectively work towards my long-term goals of bridging commerce, culture and community,” Miyaoka said.

Ku-A-Kanaka, a family owned, Native Hawaiian social enterprise working to revitalize Kapapa Lo‘i o Keali‘ikua‘aina in Waipio Valley, rounded out the top three, winning $25,000.

“The Mahi‘ai Scale-up prize will enable our farm to build the necessary infrastructure to cultivate kalo and make our five-acre taro patch self-sustaining,” said Krisha Zane, Ku-A-Kanaka project developer.

The other Mahi‘ai Scale-up finalists, who will each receive $10,000 to scale up their businesses, were:

O‘ahu Food Hub, a food-safe certified facility that provides storage, processing and distribution support at an affordable cost to 40 to 50 small- to mid-sized local food businesses.

Hanohano Huliamahi, a fourth-generation family farm that works to restore aina kupuna in Papa‘akoko, Oahu.

Punahele Provisions, which produces Hawaii-made, all-natural baby food products with no additives, preservatives or artificial flavors.

Participants’ business plans and final pitches were reviewed by a panel of judges that included: Pia Chock, Kamehameha Schools Food Systems Investment Fund portfolio manager; Kuhio Lewis, Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement president and CEO; Jesse Cooke, Ulupono Initiative vice president of Investments and Analytics; and Michael Robinson, Hawaii Pacific Health vice president of Government Relations and Community Affairs.

“Congratulations to Hawaiian Kine Trading Co. and all the finalists for making an immeasurable difference in growing, producing, gathering and distributing locally sourced food products that help our communities and our economy become more resilient,” said Ka‘eo Duarte, KS vice president of Community &Aina Resiliency. “Through Mahi‘ai Scale-up and together with our partners and the community, Kamehameha Schools is working to help strengthen Hawai‘i’s food systems toward a sustainable future and a thriving lahui.”

Mahi‘ai Scale-up invited established farmers, distributors, processors and aggregators to submit proposals that will expand their businesses in new and creative ways. Twenty-four businesses took part in the competition, which included classes from the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s Food Systems Edition of its KuHana Business Program, an accelerator and training course.

To learn more about Mahi‘ai a Ola, visit www.ksbe.edu/mahiai.

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