As Hawaiʻi struggles to recover from the economic effects of the pandemic, the Council For Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) continues its commitment to help Native Hawaiian-owned businesses and non-profits rebound, reconfigure, and survive. This week, the U.S. Treasury awarded $1,826,265 to CNHA through its Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Rapid Response Program. The money provides CDFIs, like CNHA, added capital to respond to challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in underserved communities.

“Our Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities struggle to get the economic support, recognition, and assistance they need, even in the best of times,” said Kūhiō Lewis, CNHA President and CEO. “This award provides us with more resources to ensure that people in our communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic receive the loans they need to recover and survive financially and to also get the boost they need to shift paths, if that is what works best for their business.”

The U.S. Department of the Treasury awarded $1.25 billion to nearly 900 CDFIs citing the Biden Administration’s efforts to eliminate systemic racism and create an economy that works for all. Of the institutions applying for grants, 58 organizations—including CNHA and its member and community partner, Hawaii Community Lending, committed to using their awards to invest in Native communities. CNHA was among the organizations receiving the highest award amount.

“Our commitment to our Native Hawaiian community is steadfast. We continue to find new ways to offer more resources to those who need them through loans, small business support, economic education, or financial opportunities,” stressed Lewis.

Earlier this year, CNHA was awarded microlender status by the U.S. Small Business Administration—allowing the organization to issue loans to local small businesses. Its popular online marketplace Pop-Up Mākeke is gearing up for its third season. The site provides local small and micro businesses a venue to showcase their creations and generate income and global recognition. CNHA is also working with the City and County of Honolulu, as well as the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, to provide pandemic rental and utilities relief.