The Kohala Center’s Rural and Cooperative Business Development Services program works to expand and strengthen Hawai‘i’s rural economies and food systems by providing cooperative and business development services to farmers, value-added producers, and small businesses.
Research shows that Hawai‘i imports nearly 90% of its food and 94% of its energy. By offering technical assistance, consulting services, and microloans to agricultural and cooperative businesses, our Business Development Services work to build an ‘āina-based economy by increasing local food production, expanding distribution channels for agricultural producers, creating jobs, stabilizing energy costs, and improving health and prosperity in Hawai‘i’s rural communities.
Cooperatives take many forms—from groups of farmers who process and market together, to food co-ops, credit unions, schools, medical groups, and artists’ collaboratives. Hawai‘i has a long history of cooperatives, and in today’s challenging economic climate cooperatives can provide an attractive alternative to traditional business partnerships. If you are interested in forming a cooperative business but you need some assistance in getting organized, writing a business plan, or becoming legally incorporated, or if you are part of a cooperative that could benefit from technical assistance to advance your work, our Business Development Services team can help.
We also help farms, ranches, agricultural businesses, and farmers’ associations with capitalization strategies. Our staff and consultants can help you secure low-cost loans or apply for grants to grow your rural business.
Our Beginning Farmer-Rancher Development Program trains Hawai‘i Island’s next generation of farmers and ranchers through a comprehensive, hands-on training course, and exposes island high school students to agricultural careers through one- and two-week field programs.
Formed out of The Kohala Center’s interests in promoting food self-reliance, energy self-reliance, and ecosystem health, our Business Development Services are funded primarily by USDA grants including the Rural Cooperative Development Grant, Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant, and Program 2501, with additional support from the Ulupono Initiative, the Kahiau Foundation, Farm Service Agency, and the U.S. Small Business Administration. We serve all sectors of Hawai‘i’s rural economy. Our services include:
- Cooperative Business Education
- Group Facilitation and Organization
- Strategic Project Planning
- Feasibility Assessment
- Business Planning
- Market Analysis
- Loan/Grant Application Assistance and Capitalization Strategies
- Legal Document Assistance
- Professional Referrals
- Board and Member Trainings
- Conflict Resolution
If your organization would like to schedule a presentation about the benefits of cooperatives or the steps to forming one, please contact us at 808-887-6411.
If your group or business is interested in receiving assistance, please download and complete our Intake Form.