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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Nov 29, 2012

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In Hawaii a new program has been launched in order to help local Native Hawaiian entrepreneurs expand their business operations.

The new initiative is called the Hua Kanu Business Loan program. It operates under the oversight of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). Business loans offered through the program are administered by the Pacific Rim Bank, a local Hawaiian financial institution.

The first Native Hawaiian businessman to receive financing from the OHA’s new program was Tracy PoePoe, the President of Trace Industries in Mapunapuna.

Trace Industries relies on government contracts for its seven-employee business to be successful. The $200,000 business loan PoePoe received through the program will enable his company to compete for lucrative federal contracts from the Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii and U.S. Coast Guard.

“Right now, we can only compete for federal projects in the $1.5 million to $2 million range. The loan gives us the ability to bid on larger projects in the $2 million to $4 million range,” said Poepoe in an OHA press release.

Thus far, seven Native Hawaiian businesspersons have been granted approval for financing through the Hua Kanu Business Loan program. Pacific Rim Bank has approved $2.4 million worth of business loans since the program began. On an individual level, commercial financing amounts range from $150,000 to $1 million. All of the financing carries 4 percent interest over a period of seven years.

“My business is my passion and the loan from OHA is encouraging my drive to make it successful,” said Poepoe.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is a semi-autonomous entity that exists to benefit Native Hawaiians. While the organization tends to focus on Hawaiian culture, history, lifestyle, and the preservation of the Hawaiian peoples’ nation, it has expanded into assisting native businesses.

Pacific Rim Bank, which was formed in 2006, is a full-service community bank that is majority owned by local Hawaiians.