General contractor Tracy Poepoe, (right), and his wife, Shareen, receive loan from OHA to help expand their Native Hawaiian-owned small business.

REPORT FROM OHA – In the latest example of efforts to help Native Hawaiians earn a living from their passions, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs today rolled out a new program aimed at helping its beneficiaries expand their businesses.

Tracy Poepoe, president of Trace Industries in Mapunapuna, is the first Native Hawaiian entrepreneur to benefit from OHA’s new Hua Kanu Business Loan program, which is administered through Pacific Rim Bank.

The 43-year-old entrepreneur said the $200,000 loan will enable his construction business to better compete for federal contracts from the Army Corp of Engineers, U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii and U.S. Coast Guard.

“Right now, we can only compete for federal projects in the $1.5 million to $2 million range,” said Poepoe, who established his seven-employee business in 2004. “The loan gives us the ability to bid on larger projects in the $2 million to $4 million range.”

Poepoe is one of seven Native Hawaiian entrepreneurs who have been approved through the program for $2.4 million collectively to expand their businesses. Their individual loan amounts range from $150,000 to $1 million. A key feature of their seven-year loans includes a 4 percent interest rate.

“My business is my passion and the loan from OHA is encouraging my drive to make it successful,” Poepoe said.

For more information about the new Hua Kanu Business Loan program, contact OHA’s Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund Program at 594-1924.