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About Us

Lei Ho`olaha CDFI is an equal opportunity provider


To improve the educational and economic status of Native Hawaiians and low-income people by providing education, training and financial products to community based organizations, public entities, and individuals in the State of Hawaii.


  • KALO sponsored the CDFI as part of its outreach efforts to improve the financial capacity and facilities opportunities for the 17 native Hawaiian charter schools.
  • Lei Ho’olaha (the CDFI) became an independent organization in 2011 and received certification by the Department of Treasury in 2014.
  • A focus on lending to Native Hawaiian owned small businesses began in 2014.
  • For operating funds, Lei Ho'olaha has received multiple Technical Assistance and Financial Assistance grants from the U.S. Department of Treasury CDFI Fund as well as support from Kamehameha Schools, Hawaii Community Foundation and Opportunity Finance Network.



  • Lei Ho’olaha active board members are:
    • Stephen Kaa'a,(President)  Senior Vice President & Area Manager, Branch Manager of the Waikiki Branch, First Hawaiian Bank
    • Taffi Wise, (Vice President) Executive Director Kanu o ka 'Aina Learning 'Ohana
    • Katie Benioni, (Secretary) Chief Financial Officer Kanu o ka 'Aina Learning 'Ohana 
    • Charlene Hoe, Former Director Hakipu'u Learning Center PCS and retired Director of External Programs, Kamehameha Schools
    • William Hancock, Former Executive Director Lei Ho'olaha and founder of National Business Officers Association
    • LeeAnn Silva, Director of Asset Management Queen Emma Land Company
    • Gregory Chun, Ph.D., Associate Specialist UH Manoa Hui 'Aina Momona

Loan Committee - The Loan Committee is a standing committee of the Board with responsibilities to provide insights and oversight to the Loan Staff. 


  • U.S. Department of Treasury CDFI Fund provided the initial organizational and operational support as well as ongoing funding.
  • Oweesta has provided excellent consulting support for loan policies and market study analysis
  • Kamehameha Schools provided much of the initial concept funding support
  • Opporunity Finance Network (OFN) has provided technical assistance and grant funding

Outreach and Technical Assistance since 2008 provided:

  • The first market study of capital needs of Hawaiian charter school
  • Outreach to Hawaii non-profits and Native Hawaiian owned small businesses