Aspiring Hawai‘i Island Entrepreneurs Recognized

Junior Achievement of Hawai‘i Island applauded more than 70 outstanding young entrepreneurs and awarded $4,500 in scholarships at its 40th Annual “Futures Unlimited” awards banquet on January 28, 2020 at Sangha Hall.

The Junior Achievement company program encourages high school students to develop leadership and entrepreneurship skills by guiding them in the creation of a small business. The awards recognize the hard work of the students and their advisors over the 15-week program.

The three student companies participating this season were Ohana Products sponsored and advised by Big Island Toyota and Central Pacific Bank, Eco-Aloha supported by HFS Federal Credit Union, and Aspire sponsored and advised by HPM Building Supply and Bank of Hawaii.

Over the course of the program, the three companies in total manufactured, marketed and sold over $40,000 in merchandise. The top-selling company this year was Ohana Products with nearly $19,000 in total receipts. Tristen Cullio was the top individual salesperson with $3,173 in sales, and Savannah Christensen won for Best Sales Presentation. Ohana Products also received the coveted Company of the Year recognition, posting an impressive return on their stock value of $119 per share.

Much of the sales happen during the JA Trade Fair each Black Friday weekend when the community comes out to support the JA companies and find unique holiday gifts. Mystery shoppers also drop by to score the students on their product displays and salesmanship. This year Aspire was recognized for having the most compelling Trade Fair presence.

In addition to learning about sales, manufacturing, finance and human resource management, the companies also are introduced to public relations and encouraged to perform community service projects. This year Eco-Aloha won the outstanding community service company award.

Funded from the “profits tax” charged to the JA high school companies, seven participating Seniors were awarded scholarships. This year’s scholarship recipients were: Mikaela Durch – $250, Iain Klegner – $250, Wilmer Agpaoa – $600, Savannah Christensen – $600, Dayci Oshiro – $600, Jaylen Mae Arzaga – $1,100 and Corbin Warmbier – $1,100.

During the event local entrepreneur Kris Speegle of Nakoa Kai Insurance Professionals and Aloha Pawz, shared advice on writing down dreams, putting in extra effort and the importance of giving back to the community. Through a song on the ukulele, Speegle also shared his experience of finding ways of remaining connected to Hawaii, such as when he was away from the islands during his military service.