Nonprofit Helps Bolster Westside Businesses
While working as an IT specialist, Ewa Beach resident Christiane Bolosan-Yee made what is perhaps the island’s most fearsome daily commute: from the Westside into town. Bolosan-Yee realized, like many Westsiders who work in town probably do, that she didn’t want to have to make the commute anymore. But perhaps more importantly, she realized that she wanted her community to be a vibrant center for business on its own.
“I really wanted to live, work and play in my community,” she recalls.
During that time, Bolosan-Yee began volunteering with Ewa Beach Community Based Development Organization (CBDO), a nonprofit that aims to enhance quality of life for residents by supporting economic and job growth. She latched onto its mission, relishing her work to stimulate the local economy and enabling people to make a living within their community.
Bolosan-Yee now serves as executive director of CBDO.
The group was founded in 2009 through a collaboration of individuals affiliated with Ewa Weed and Seed and Boys & Girls Club.
“They wanted to create a nonprofit that focused on economic development in the area,” explains Bolosan-Yee, who previously worked as a YMCA program director and as a claims supervisor at HMSA. “According to census data, we had been growing so much over the years, but most of our population was still lowto moderate-income families.”
Within Ewa Beach CBDO, there is a section designed to address the needs of area entrepreneurs. CORE (Community Opportunities and Resources for Employment and Entrepreneurship) offers Momentum Business Builder classes that cover starting or maintaining a business, in addition facets of a more traditional job search, such as interview skills and resume writing. CORE also hosts workshops that discuss entrepreneurial-related topics, such as growing a business without burning out, and financial advice.
CORE is one of three sub-categories that make up Ewa Beach CBDO; the others are HOPE (Helping Our Parents through Empowerment) and SCOPE (School Commitment Opportunities through Programs and Education).
Within the last year, nearly 30 students have graduated from Ewa Beach CBDO’s business-builder class. They have gone on to a range of ventures, including a cleaning business, a mental health consulting company, a social media consulting firm and a bakery.
Once students finish the program, they are eligible to receive financial support from grant funding.
One success story is At Your Service Cleaning Service.
“They are really doing great,” Bolosan-Yee says. “They started with a three-person crew, and now they have grown to more than 40 people.”
More recently, the same founders also have branched out to launch a party-rental company.
Another program graduate became a best-selling author on Amazon.
“She does attribute it all to coming to our class,” Bolosan-Yee says.
With a network of other local groups, including Small Business Administration, Ewa Beach CBDO serves as a liaison between entrepreneurs and such resources.
“We want to help everyone just stay connected and help support each other,” Bolosan-Yee explains.
Next up, the nonprofit sponsors the Small Business Resource Fair from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at Leeward Community College. For more information and to register, visit smallbizfair2015-1.eventbrite.com. For more on Ewa Beach CBDO, visit ewabeachcbdo.org.