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Hawaiian nonprofit approves first micro-business loan

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HONOLULU – Through Aug. 31, the Pupu o Niihau, a special Niihau shell lei showcase will be held at Mea Makamae located in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Financed in part through a small business micro-loan from the

Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement

, the extraordinary showcase will feature lei makers from the island of Niihau.

Previously, Mea Makamae has housed collections of Hawaiian cultural items and will now offer the community a brief window into the world of the Niihau shell leis. The specialty Niihau shell lei jewelry will be available for purchase and custom orders as well as repair and restringing by Niihauans. Drop off locations are available for repair and restringing at Mea Makamae and Native Books/Na Mea Hawai’i at Ward Warehouse.

“We were very happy that our very first micro-loan would be made in support of a cultural enterprise involving the lei makers from Niihau,” said Robin Puanani Danner, CNHA president and CEO. “The goal of our community loan fund is to create greater and greater access to capital by Hawaiians to create more and more opportunities.”

Coordinators for the Pupu o Niihau showcase are Maile Meyer and Billi Jean Kam Takashima of Native Books/Na Mea Hawai’i, along with cultural practitioners, Kaleialoha Robeck and daughter who are ohana to the late Aunty Ilei Beniamina, and Kealoha Figeroa. The idea for the project originally came about with the support of Aunty Ilei Beniamina who gave her blessing to the showcase just a few days before her passing.

CNHA Loan Fund Officer Brett Nakoa hopes to complete the pilot phase of CNHA’s newest loan product by the end of December. “It’s a micro-loan product, but it can carry a macro impact to small enterprises, especially those controlled by our Native artisans and cultural practitioners. It’s important to understand the many opportunities out there to buy Hawaiian and support an entire community of entrepreneurs and cultural practitioners who continue these time honored traditions.”

For more information on Pupu o Niihau at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, to attend and support, contact Mea Makamae at (808) 921-7248, located on 2259 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815, and Native Books/Na Mea Hawai’i at (808) 596-8885, by e-mail at, or visit their Web site at

About CNHA

CNHA is a national network of Native Hawaiian Organizations, providing assistance in accessing capital and technical resources, and is a policy voice on issues important to Native Hawaiian communities. Its mission is to enhance the well-being of Hawaii through the cultural, economic, and community development of Native Hawaiians. For more information about CNHA contact us at (808) 596-8155, toll-free at (800) 709-2642, by e-mail at, or visit our Web site at