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SBA Award Winners 2014

(page 6 of 8)

Home-Based Business Champion of the Year

Terrina Wong
Deputy Director, Pacific Gateway Center

Sponsor: Stephanie Chan, Bank of Hawaii

Photo: David Croxford

Pacific Gateway Center recently celebrated 40 years as a nonprofit serving the community. Its mission, explains Terrina Wong, is to empower immigrants, refugees (most of them human trafficking survivors) and the economically disadvantaged through the building of skills.

Among the organization’s programs are job training, entrepreneurship, micro-loans and sustainability initiatives, mainly to those with farming backgrounds.

One success story Wong shares is the result of a visit by two men from the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Md.

“Their museum features the best of art from untrained artists,” she explains. “They saw the handmade ribbon lei by Mellie Enos and purchased about 30 of them to feature in their museum and to sell in their museum store.”

“Terrina’s work is unique because she is filling a gap in assisting micro-businesses,” says Naomi Masuno of Bank of Hawaii. “She works with crafters who work from home and also small farmers, many of whom are immigrants with language barriers. She is patient, caring and organized – traits needed to work with these very small mom-and-pop-type businesses.”



Young Entrepreuneur of the Year

Kathryn Custer
Director, Keiki Sitters and Aloha Sitters

Sponsors: Michael Libertini, Bank of Hawaii

Photo: Courtesy of Keiki Sitters and Aloha Sitters

Keiki Sitters is more – and more clever – than it sounds. The business Kathryn Custer started in March 2003 covers a lot of ground: the care of children, pets, elders and homes – even tutoring.

For childcare, Keiki Sitters provides care at private homes; for the children of tourists via contracts with more than half of the hotel properties on Oahu; and as group childcare at required military meetings.

“There are so many opportunities on Oahu, (but) I would love to expand,” says Custer. The company does business as Aloha Sitters in the hotels, because it is easier for visitors to pronounce, she says.

Michael Libertini of Bank of Hawaii calls the 28-year-old Custer an energetic innovator.

“Her ability to see a vision and bring it to life is why she is so successful. She thinks within the scope of modern technologies, but also sees in advance where things might be headed,” Libertini says.

The company’s website,, shows caregivers’ profiles, allowing clients to find a good match for their needs. Nearly 500 part- and full-time employees work for the company.



Women in Business Champion of the Year

Cynthia Yamasaki
Director, Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership

Sponsors: Naomi Masuno of Bank of Hawaii, Candice Naito of First Hawaiian Bank and Susan Utsugi of Central Pacific Bank

Photo: Courtesy of Cynthia Yamasaki

The Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership opened on the third floor of the YWCA Laniakea in March 2013. Before that, the space needed a lot of work, from new flooring to furniture. Director Cynthia Yamasaki headed up that effort, finding a way to secure donations and help to get the project done.

Yamasaki credits many people and groups for their assistance, and she cites it as an example of how she could not have become the Women in Business Champion without the help of others.

“It is a community of support that really created (the center),” she says, noting the center partners with businesses and organizations for workshops, business counseling and other services.

Naomi Masuno, who is also an SBA winner as Financial Services Champion, sponsored Yamasaki. Of her friend and colleague, Masuno says Yamasaki has experience in banking, in running her own business and in providing business training.

“We make a good team because we have a meeting of the minds in trying to help people in business. She uses her experience to guide business owners and, together with the contacts we have, we can make a difference for women business owners,” Masuno says.

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