Skip to content
Reading time: 3 minutes

Group of filipino entrepreneurs speaking on stage

In celebration of Filipino American History Month, a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa event “Entre-Pinoy-Ship” brought together a dynamic panel of Filipino American entrepreneurs who shared their incredible journeys, the influence of their Filipino culture and the challenges they’ve faced, and imparted advice to young entrepreneurs. They also discussed their visions for the future of Filipino American entrepreneurship, all while pursuing their dreams in Hawaiʻi.

The panelists were:

  • Karlo Tanjuakio, CEO and founder of + Kure
  • Kit Furukawa, owner of Maui Chili Chili Oil
  • Lalaine Ignao, co-owner and CEO of Sama Sama

The event on October 27, held in the state-of-the-art Walter Dods, Jr. Center, was organized by Shidler College of Business Marketing Instructor and Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) Faculty Fellow Constancio Paranal III, PACE Program Manager Adelene Ortiz and PACE Leader and Hawaiʻi Student Entrepreneurs President Daniella Pasion. The event provided a platform for the Filipino American community to explore the stories and experiences of successful entrepreneurs who are making a significant impact in the state.

“Beyond celebrating the significant contributions of Filipino Americans in Hawaiʻi, the goal was to share our stories of struggle and challenges, and allow those stories to transcend boundaries,” Paranal said. “It is a reminder that with our shared challenges, there are opportunities, and within the stories, there is wisdom and strength. As the panelists mentioned, this is part of building our tribe, and expanding our community, including non-Filipinos.”

Finding passion and purpose

Each panelist revealed what motivated them to embark on their entrepreneurial journey. Their stories were diverse but shared a common theme of a relentless drive to create something meaningful and impactful. For Tanjuakio, it was about finding a problem that he was passionate about. Ignao was driven by her passion for sharing stories, and Furukawa was motivated by a desire to be her own boss and the freedom to build her own path.

The discussion highlighted the profound influence of Filipino culture on their business decisions and strategies. From how they approach their businesses to the products they create, the entrepreneurs were intentional in incorporating cultural elements and values into their ventures. Ignao shared that part of her role beyond sharing her culture through our products, is to educate customers of its significance and relationship.

Despite the large Filipino American population in Hawaiʻi, the panelists candidly discussed the challenges they faced while establishing and growing their businesses. The panelists shared how they navigated the challenges associated with not being accepted or others not recognizing their worth, and at times, dealing with the internal struggle of repurposing their Filipino values of humility and modesty.

The event provided a platform for the panelists to offer valuable advice to young entrepreneurs. They encouraged aspiring business leaders to embrace their cultural heritage and use it as a source of inspiration.

Be brave and surround yourself with people who support your vision.
— Karlo Tanjuakio

Tanjuakio advised young entrepreneurs to “be brave and surround yourself with people who support your vision.”

Ignao emphasized the importance of believing in your worth, stating, “You know the hard work you put into it, don’t doubt yourself.”

Furukawa highlighted the role of networking, noting, “Build your social capital. The relationships you build now will be instrumental in your future success.”

Joshua Rio, a senior majoring in management information systems and marketing said, “It was very inspiring to be able to hear from those in the community who went through similar struggles and see that they succeeded. I appreciated the opportunity to be part of such a wonderful event!”

The event was moderated by Pia Arboleda, director of the UH Mānoa Center for Philippine Studies and chair of the Department of Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures.

Back To Top