Mana Up has unveiled its latest group of local businesses in their business accelerator program.

Mana Up, a local business accelerator, has announced its ninth cohort of entrepreneurs. Since its inception in 2017, the accelerator has helped 85 Hawai‘i entrepreneurs to mature and expand their businesses. Founded by Meli James and Brittany Heyd, Mana Up is geared towards businesses that produce physical products for retail sales.

The accelerator has supported some of Hawai‘i’s notable brands, such as Mānoa Chocolate, Coco Moon, Ubae, and more. Mana Up selected its ninth cohort of product-based businesses from among a record-breaking 163 applicants. The 10 companies will now complete a six-month boot camp in business growth, complete with workshops, mentoring, and coaching. They will also receive nuts-and-bolts advice on things like distribution and e-commerce.

The cohort includes businesses making and selling a wide range of products. For example, Kauai Hemp Co. is a vertically integrated hemp farm that grows plants and produces CBD products. It joined Mana Up with a goal of tripling its sales and expanding to Japan. Maui-based To Be Organics is the brainchild of Karli Rose Wilson, who has a personal passion for bath and body products that are easy on the skin. One cohort member looked at a big problem in Hawai‘i and saw a business opportunity. Christine and Joey Valenti launched the Albizia Project in 2017 with the idea of turning this invasive species of fast-growing trees into surfboards. Their goals are to expand statewide and then internationally.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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