Business Hall of Fame to Induct Sidney Fuke

On July 20, Junior Achievement of Hawaii Island will honor its 2023 JA Business Hall of Fame inductee, Sidney Fuke, former Planning Director for the County of Hawaii. The organization will also honor Irene Nagao with its Distinguished Supporter award. 

Fuke has lived his entire life in Hawaii. He was born and raised in Hilo and is a proud graduate of Hilo High School and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. 

After receiving his Masters of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Illinois, he started A 13-year career at the County of Hawaii as a Planner.  He then worked his way up to Deputy Planning Director then Planning Director serving in the head role for eight years.  Since 1985 he has served as a private land use consultant.

Fuke takes great joy and pride in his community service and involvement.  He is a member of the Japanese Chamber Commerce and Industry, former Board Member of Hospice of Hilo, Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin Kyodan, Hawaii Health System, Na Leo Hawaii, County of Hawaii Liquor Commission and is the current Chair of the County of Hawaii Liquor Adjudication Board and member of the State Office of Disciplinary Counsel. 

Irene Nagao was born in Honolulu and graduated from the Honolulu Business College majoring in Accounting.  Nagao worked at Big Island Toyota then JCPenney for 23 years.

Nagao has touched many young lives over the years with her volunteer efforts. She has been actively involved with JAHI serving on the Board of Directors for over 25 years. She was an active volunteer in the Business Education Partnership and she headed the education committees for both the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce as well as the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

Nagao also assisted in rehabilitation efforts serving on the Friends of the Big Island Drug Court for 17 years while also working closely with the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office on their programs for reintegration of incarcerated people. Nagao formed STARS (Surviving to Thriving: Advocacy, Resources and Support), a support group for families of homicide victims.

Nagao balances her life by being involved in other programs like the Zonta Club of Hilo for 44 years, Rotary Club of Hilo Bay and the Red Hat Society “Ula La” Chapter.  She has been awarded the coveted Athena Business Woman of the Year (1990); Hawaii County Outstanding Female Senior (2008); Hawaii Island Going Home Consortium Recognition (2015) and the Zonta Club of Hilo Rose Award of Excellence (2018). 

Past Hawaii Island recipients of the prestigious JA Business Hall of Fame award include Bobby Fujimoto of HPM Building Supply (1990), Allan Ikawa of Big Island Candies (1995), Tony Taniguchi (1998) and Barry Taniguchi (2010) of KTA Super Stores, Monty Richards of Kahua Ranch (2009), Ric Maiava and Debbie Ching-Maiava of Ponds and Ken’s House of Pancakes (2012), Sharon Scheele (2022) and many more pillars of Hawaii Island’s business community.

This year’s Business Hall of Fame dinner and reception to honor Fuke and Nagao is slated for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 20 at The Event Center at The Arc of Hilo. [THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT. THANK YOU FOR EVERYONE’S SUPPORT. If you would like to make a donation to the auction, please conact]

Proceeds from the event support JAHI’s financial literacy and entrepreneurship programs, delivered to more than 4,000 kindergarten through 12th grade students on the island annually.

Welcome Laura Robinson, Our New District Manager

Laura Robinson is no stranger to education or to our community. Laura was born and raised in Hilo, and is a proud graduate of Waiakea High School, Hawaii Community College, and the University of Hawaii at Hilo. She has worked in education for over 15 years as a tutor, teacher, and lecturer with experience working with students from elementary school through college.

As the District Manager for Junior Achievement of Hawaii Island, Laura will work with our local board of directors and community volunteers to provide our keiki, from kindergarten through high school, with opportunities that inspire and prepare them for success. This spring with Laura’s help,  JAHI looks forward to introducing online learning opportunities.

“I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity to help Junior Achievement of Hawaii Island thrive,” said Laura.

Laura can be contacted at



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.

Exciting Gifts at JA Trade Fair 2019

It’s JA Trade Fair Time!
Fri. Nov. 23rd & Sat. Nov. 24th
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
at Prince Kuhilo Plaza – Old Navy Wing

You’ll find unique gifts, including…

  • Locally-sourced potted succulents and metal cuff bracelets
    from United Youth, sponsored by HFS FCU
  • Gold and pearl necklaces and bracelets
    from Hanauna Hou, sponsored by Na Leo TV
  • Silk screened kitchen towels and scrunchies
    from Chosen 2 Achieve, advised by HPM and Bank of Hawaii, and
  • Handmade cork coasters and trendy shoelace bracelets from Maika`i Productions, sponsored by Big Island Toyota

Please come by and show your support for these enterprising young companies comprised of high school students from across East Hawaii Island!

Company Program Annual Report 2015


_DSC3654 _DSC3667

On January 13, 2015, our three high school Company Program teams presented their earnings and learnings to a panel of five judges. Company Presidents and Vice Presidents of Production, Marketing, Human Resources, Finance and Public Relations wowed the audience with smiles and PowerPoint presentations. [See more pictures from the event]

Overall the three teams’ total sales were down significantly from prior years; however, their net profit was equal or better than prior years.

“You’ve learned to work smarter,” complimented Susan Labrenz, JAHI’s District Manager.

All achievements will be celebrated during the Futures Unlimited Banquet at Sangha Hall on January 27th where the JAHI Company of the Year and senior scholarships will be announced. To attend the banquet or more more information about the JAHI Company Program, please contact Susan at

Support Our Young Entrepreneurs – and get great gifts!




Sixty-four students from five East Hawaii high schools are anxious to test their sales skills and show off the products they designed and manufactured, during the JA Trade Fair. This year the annual two-day event will be held at the Price Kuhio Plaza on “Black Friday” and Saturday, November 28-29, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm each day.

The students are organized in to three companies, each sponsored by a local business and advised by members of Hilo’s business community.

A.L.O.H.A. (Amazing Leaders of Hardworking Achievers) is sponsored by Big Island Toyota. Its President, Michael Mori, a senior from Waiakea High School says, “our company is working hard at producing handmade gift tags and decorative notebooks and journals, made from 70% recycled materials, to feature at this year’s trade fair.” A.L.O.H.A.’s Vice President of Production, Cici Luna, explains “our notebooks are colorful and have different themes.  They can be used for school, as gifts, and as recipe books or journals.  Our gift tag is a set of twelve that includes six Christmas-themed tags and six all-occasion tags.”

“Aloha Flare is a company with unique ideas and flare,” said company president Dayton Towata whose company is sponsored by Bank of Hawaii. The products that Aloha Flare will be selling are a cookbook, a clothes pin note holder, and a “Bravery Braid.” The company made the braided shoelace bracelet in different colors to recognize the different types of cancer and is donating five-percent of the net profit to the American Cancer Society.

The HPM Building Supply sponsored team, called Aloha Supplied, created limited-edition photography greeting cards, coasters, and a “PopATop” bottle openers complete with a mason jar to catch the bottle caps. The greeting cards and coasters both feature local scenery photographed and donated by Tom Kualii of Extreme Exposure Hawaii.

“Our photo greeting cards stick with our theme of spreading Aloha,” said Vice President Kenneth Kitahata. “As the holiday season approaches these greeting cards are a great way to stay in touch with family or friends who are off island.”

After an initial job interview the students started in September by purchasing a share of stock in their company for two-dollars. The companies then selected leaders, decided on what products to market, and manufactured their products, all the while accounting for all expenses and revenues. After they close their books at the end of the year, based on the success of their company, most students will earn a return on their initial stock investment. All profits are returned to students in the form of dividends and awards, plus scholarships for graduating seniors in the program.

Let us know if you Give Aloha, so we can say Mahalo

Our organization is participating in Give Aloha, Foodland’s Annual Community Matching Gifts Program.  

JA of Hawaii Island’s Code is 78722.

This program honors Foodland’s founder, Maurice J. “Sully” Sullivan, and continues his legacy of giving back to the community.

How It Works – From September 1-30, 2014 customers are invited to make donations up to $249 (per organization, per person) to participating Hawaii non-profit organizations at checkout.  Individuals must use their own Maika’i card to make a donation.  Foodland and the Western Union Foundation will match a portion of each donation made with a Maika’i card.  Donations made without a Maika’i card will not be matched.

Matching Gift – The Western Union Foundation has generously donated $50,000 to add to Foodland’s gift of $250,000 to Hawaii non-profit organizations participating in Give Aloha this year.  Therefore, the total gift that will be given to all participating organizations combined is $300,000!


How to Donate

  • At checkout, present your Maika’i card (or give your 10-digit number) and inform the cashier that you would like to make a donation to JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT OF HAWAII (HAWAII ISLAND).  If you do not have a Maika’i account, you may establish one by telling the cashier you would like to do so; you will need to give a unique 10-digit number (such as your phone number).

  • Tell the cashier our organization’s 5-digit code:  78722

  • Tell the cashier how much you would like to donate.  Your donation will be added to your grocery purchase total.  You may donate up to $249 per organization (any amount in excess of $249 per organization will not be matched).

  • Be sure the cashier reaffirms our organization’s name and amount that you are donating.

  • Any donation must be made payable to Foodland, Sack N Save or Foodland Farms.

  • The name of our organization and the amount you donate will appear on your receipt.

  • Donor names will not be released to our organization.  If you would like us to know of your gift, please contact us directly so that we may properly say Mahalo!

  • You may donate up to $249 per organization over the course of several store visits, and you may make donations to more than one organization.


Are These Donations Tax Deductible? Give Aloha donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.  Please save your store receipt for tax purposes since it will be the only record you will have of your donation.  You may ask the cashier for a duplicate receipt.


How Will My Donation be Matched?  Every year, the matching gift percentage varies and cannot be pre-determined. For the past 5 years, the matching percentage has been between 22%-26%.  Thus, if a customer donated $100 to an organization, Foodland and the Western Union Foundation’s matching gift was $22-$26.   The actual matching gifts will be calculated at the end of the program. Organizations will receive 100% of all customer donations given to their organization, plus their % of Foodland and the Western Union Foundation’s $300,000 matching gift.  The portion of the matching gift that each organization will receive will be based on the total dollar amount of customer donations designated to that organization as a % of all customer donations received for all organizations. For example, if total combined customer donations for all participating organizations equal $1,000,000, and $10,000 (1% of total) in donations are designated for organization XYZ, then organization XYZ will receive 1% of $300,000, or $3,000 from Foodland and the Western Union Foundation’s matching gift in addition to the $10,000 from customer donations. Total gift to organization XYZ = $13,000.


Thank you for your donation to JA of Hawaii Island and/or to the numerous other organizations who provide valued services in our state. And a special mahalo to Foodland!

Congratulations to Jennifer Taniguchi!

Jennifer Taniguchi, a recent graduate and valedictorian of Waiakea High School on the Big Island, is the recipient of the Hawaii Junior Achievement Rising Star Award.

The award was presented to her by Kimberly Canepa, executive director of Junior Achievement of Hawaii (the JA Hawaii state organization), during PBN’s Forty under 40 event at the Hawaii Convention Center.

Jennifer benefited from JA programs in her classrooms (lead by her dad, Art Taniguchi of Bank of Hawaii), from Kindergarten through 8th grade. Jennifer also participated in JAHI’s High School Company Program where she most recently served as president of her JA company, took the top salesperson award and received a JAHI scholarship.

Read Jennifer’s comments in the PBN article

Jennifer Taniguchi and Kim Canepa at PBN's 40 Under 40 event
Jennifer Taniguchi and Kim Canepa at PBN’s 40 Under 40 event




Recognizing Student Business Success

In January we held the 34th Annual Futures Unlimited Awards Banquet and congratulated seventy-seven local high school students.

These students took a three-month-plus journey to image, create, and run their own small businesses. The three mini-companies formed this year included T.H.R.I.V.E. sponsored by Bank of Hawaii, GX3 sponsored by Big Island Toyota, and Aloha Supplied sponsored by HELCO.

Brianna Kaalakea from Kamehameha High School, Laurel Fongblatt from Hilo High School, Volandou Gronowski from Pahoa High School, Yan Ying Huang and Jennifer Taniguchi from Waiakea High School received scholarships
Brianna Kaalakea from Kamehameha High School, Laurel Fongblatt from Hilo High School, Volandou Gronowski from Pahoa High School, Yan Ying Huang and Jennifer Taniguchi from Waiakea High School received scholarships

During the banquet $3,500 in scholarships were awarded to five deserving students. The winners included, Brianna Kaalakea from Kamehameha High School, Laurel Fongblatt from Hilo High School, Volandou Gronowski from Pahoa High School, Yan Ying Huang and Jennifer Taniguchi from Waiakea High School. These scholarship monies and the other awards presented were paid for from the proceeds generated by “taxing” the earnings of the JA companies.

All of our sponsoring firms instill the value of community service in their employees and set excellent examples for our achievers. Students visited the elderly and veterans, made cards for the troops, packed operation Christmas child boxes, staffed various community events, sold wristbands to raise funds for charity and donated products to worthy causes. This year’s winner for Community Service was GX3 sponsored by Big Island Toyota.

The evening culminated in the prestigious, Company of the Year Award. It was an extremely close competition this year and all of the companies did a terrific job. Aloha Supplied sponsored by Hawaii Electric Light Company took top honors and President, Brianna Kaalakea and all vice presidents were welcomed to the stage with a roaring applause.

The excitement of the evening was shared by all parents, volunteers, board members and sponsors who helped make this program a huge success. Junior Achievement thanks Big Island Toyota, Hawaii Electric Light Company and Bank of Hawaii for their incredible support.

To get Junior Achievement in your K-12 classroom or to get involved yourself as a volunteer or a sponsor contact District Manager Susan Labrenz by phone at 966-8450 or by email:

Scholarship Applications Now Available

Hawaii Island high school seniors who have participated in Junior Achievement programs can apply for 2013-’14 JA of Hawaii Island Scholarships.

Download the JAHI Scholarship Application (To edit a soft copy of the application please download the file and open with Adobe Acrobat Reader.)

Junior Achievement of Hawaii Island General Scholarship recognizes and encourages the academic achievements of graduating seniors. This year again, we would like to encourage students to apply for our scholarship. The number of available scholarships and the amount of each scholarship is subject to change from year to year. Typically, there are two to five scholarships awarded each year, ranging in amount from $300.00 to $1,500.00.

To be considered, all applicants must:

  • be a high school senior who will graduate in the current school year;

  • be qualified, upon graduation, to enroll at an accredited college or university (Proof of enrollment/ class registration will be required prior to disbursement of the scholarship);

  • have completed a Junior Achievement High School Program, or taught a Junior Achievement program as a classroom consultant;

  • exemplify academic achievement, excellent extracurricular and community activities,leadership skills, and college and career potential;

  • complete and sign the application including co-signature of a parent or legal guardian;

  • attach a current transcript;

  • submit letters of recommendation or JA rating sheets from a JA advisor and school official;

  • write a one-page personal statement;

The application along with the required supporting documents must be postmarked by December 2, 2013 or hand delivered to the District Manager, Susan Labrenz by 9 PM December 3, 2013.

Good luck, seniors.