Hawaii State Trade Expansion Program (HiSTEP)

HiSTEP Overview

The world is open for business… your business! Today it’s easier than ever for companies, regardless of size, to sell goods and services across the globe. Hawaii is an internationally recognized brand that helps make its products and services attractive to buyers throughout the world.

Funded in part through a Grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Hawaii’s State Trade Expansion Program, known as HiSTEP, is a comprehensive program designed to assist Hawaii small businesses with their export development. The program is administered by DBEDT and partner organizations in Hawaii.

SBA started STEP in FY 2011 as a three-year pilot program with a goal to increase the number of small businesses that want to export as well as the value of exports for those small businesses that currently export. SBA awards matching-funds STEP grants to states on a competitive basis.

HiSTEP 2018 Press Release


HiSTEP Benefits

Success metrics for Hawaii-based companies using HiSTEP include, but are not limited to:

  • Expanded exports
  • Boosted revenue
  • Active in more global markets
  • Penetration of new markets


HiSTEP Eligibility

Companies must meet the following requirements:

  • Meet the federal requirements of an ‘Eligible Small Business Concern’ (organized or incorporated and operating in the U.S., meet SBA small business size standards, one year in business, has access to sufficient resources to bear the costs associated with trade)
  • Certify that your company is not barred from receiving federal funds
  • Be registered in good standing with the State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Business Registration Division at vendors.ehawaii.gov
  • Have a current general excise tax license with the State Department of Taxation


HiSTEP Registration

  1. Determine if your company meets the Eligibility Requirements
  2. Complete the online HiSTEP application
  3. Download and complete the SBA Self Representation Form and SBA Form 1624, then email both forms to Jamie.K.Lum@hawaii.gov


HiSTEP Components

The Hawaii State Trade Expansion Program (HiSTEP) has three integrated components:

  1. HiSTEP – Export Readiness Program (HiSTEP-ERP)
  2. HiSTEP – Hawaii Pavilions (HiSTEP-HP)
  3. HiSTEP – Company Assistance (HiSTEP-CA)


1. HiSTEP – Export Readiness Program (HiSTEP-ERP)

Training and business advising program to prepare Hawaii companies to begin or expand their export market development.

The Export Readiness Training is a foundation program that is open to all types of businesses considering exporting. It will cover general background as well as country and issue specific topics. HiSTEP-ERP also includes one-on-one business and export advising in cooperation with DBEDT’s partner organizations. At the conclusion of the program, companies will have a go-to-market strategy and export plan.

The sessions are expected to cover subjects ranging from scaling up operations, to logistics, to managing cultural differences.

Learn Exporting Basics in 2017 HiSTEP Training Seminars

Please be sure to review the several training seminars offered in 2017, which provide the basic foundation for your exporting plan. The videos and presentations for each session can be viewed on the 2017 HiSTEP Training Seminars page.

2018 HiSTEP Training Seminars

Session NameDate and TimeVenueDescriptionRegistration Link
Kauai: HiSTEP Kick-off SeminarTuesday
Hawaii SBDC
Lihue Plantation Building
Please join us to learn more about the 2018 HiSTEP program and how to register.

View the Kauai Event Flyer.
Register before 12/01/2017
Oahu: HiSTEP Kick-off SeminarWednesday
Hawaii Foreign Trade Zone No. 9
Homer Maxey international Trade Center
Please join us to learn more about the 2018 HiSTEP program and how to register.

View the Oahu Event Flyer.
Register before 12/01/2017
Kona: HiSTEP Kick-off SeminarThursday
Hale Iako
Please join us to learn more about the 2018 HiSTEP program and how to register.

View the Kona Event Flyer.
Register before 12/01/2017
Hilo: HiSTEP Kick-off SeminarThursday
Hawaii Innovation Center at Hilo (HICH)Please join us to learn more about the 2018 HiSTEP program and how to register.

View the Hilo Event Flyer.
Register before 12/01/2017
Maui: HiSTEP Kick-off SeminarFriday
Maui Research & Technology CenterPlease join us to learn more about the 2018 HiSTEP program and how to register.

View the Maui Event Flyer.
Register before 12/01/2017


2. HiSTEP – Hawaii Pavilions (HiSTEP-HP)

DBEDT and partners such as the Hawaii Department of Agricultural organize groups of Hawaii companies to participate in major trade shows in a Hawaii pavilion. To date, Hawaii Pavilions are planned for the following Trade Shows for 2018 (see official press release):

  • Surf Expo, Orlando, FL, January 25-27, 2018
  • Bio International Convention, Boston, MA, June 4-7, 2018
  • Hankyu Hawaii Fair, Osaka, Japan, July 4 – 10, 2018
  • Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, Denver, CO, July 23 – 26, 2018
  • Tokyo International Gift Show, Tokyo, Japan, September 4-7, 2018

Space is limited and will be on a first come first serve basis. To sign up complete the 2018 Hawaii Pavilions (HiSTEP-HP) Application. Note: final acceptance for participation is subject to DBEDT approval.


3. HiSTEP – Company Assistance (HiSTEP-CA)

The program RFP has been posted on the State Procurement Office website and may be viewed at: http://spo3.hawaii.gov/notices/notices/rfp-18-01-bdsd

HiSTEP-CA assists individual Hawaii companies with export market development costs. Application proposals may request a minimum of $3,000 and a maximum of $7,500.  Award funds will be limited to the following uses:

  1. Airfare (consistent with Fly America guidelines) to approved trade show(s) or multiple buyer meetings (minimum 6 meetings);
  2. Trade show booth rental or trade mission participation fee;
  3. Trade show booth build-out expenses ($3,000 maximum);
  4. Shipping of products to the trade show and return;
  5. Gold Key Service (a program offered by U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service that matches pre-qualified foreign buyers with American companies in markets around the world. More information at: http://2016.export.gov/salesandmarketing/eg_main_018195.asp), or other federal export development programs;
  6. Localization services for collateral materials and website ($3,000 maximum);
  7. Fees for shipping sample products ($2,000 maximum);
  8. Cost of compliance testing an existing product for entry into an export market ($2,000 maximum);
  9. Export Research Tool Subscription used to assist company with market research ($1,000 maximum).



dbedtDBEDT Business Development & Support Division
sbaSBA Hawaii District Office
Hawaii Pacific Export Council (HPEC)
sbdcSmall Business Development Center (SBDC)
Logo for Patsy Mink Center for Business and LeadershipPatsy Mink Center for Business and Leadership
doaHawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA)
ftzForeign Trade Zone No. 9
innovate_hawaiiHTDC/INNOVATE Hawaii
uscsU.S. Department of Commerce Export Assistance Center