SBA Announces $450,000 Award to DBEDT for HiSTEP

Posted on Sep 26, 2018 in DBEDT, Exporting, HiSTEP, Japan, News, SBA, TIGS, Tokyo International Gift Show

HiSTEP LogoHONOLULU – The U.S. Small Business Administration announced an award of $450,000 to continue the Hawaii State Trade Export Program (HiSTEP). Under the tag “Buy Hawaii, Give Aloha,” this program provides training, grants and tradeshows for companies looking to start exporting or increase their exports.

“With the help of this program, we’ve seen our export of Hawaii-made products increase substantially overseas,” said DBEDT Director Luis P. Salaveria. “The Hawaii brand continues to be iconic. We have significantly increased Hawaii-made products, especially in Japan where we have participated in several high-profile events.”

80 Hawaii Companies Showcased at the 2018 Tokyo International Gift Show

An example of the effectiveness of the HiSTEP program, 80 companies just completed participating in the 2018 Tokyo International Gift Show (TIGS). This year marked the seventh consecutive year that DBEDT organized a Hawaii Pavilion at TIGS, which was held September 4 – 7, 2018, at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center (Tokyo Big Sight). 

Hawaii Pavilion wins Best In Show Award

This year, DBEDT recruited 80 Hawaii companies to fill 38 booths and a cafe section, which made up the Hawaii Pavilion. In addition, show organizers awarded DBEDT’s Hawaii Pavilion with the Best in Show award. 

“The value of the Hawaii brand is priceless in the global economy, and expansion of the state’s trade sector will diversify and grow our local economy,” explained Salaveria. “Through events such as TIGS, Hawaii’s products are showcased around the world and have received international recognition for its quality and uniqueness.”

Sen. Brian Taniguchi joined DBEDT at TIGS and shared his impressions: “It was exciting to meet all the vendors and see all the Hawaii-made products. This is what we need to do in Hawaii. The Hawaii Pavilion at the Tokyo International Gift Show was huge and very impressive.” 

“We are excited to see the Hawaii Pavilion grow each year in size and number of local companies exhibiting,” said Dennis Ling, administrator of DBEDT’s Business Development and Support Division.  “The Hawaii brand is becoming more established and recognized for quality and authenticity, which is reflected in the dramatic increase in our sales in the Japan market.”

Some of the participating vendors shared their thoughts about TIGS:

Shawn Mawae, Hawaii Coffee Company: “It’s such a good experience, and it’s been amazing to share what we have with the world. We’ve been able to meet a lot of people and network. This will only help to grow our brand all over Japan.”

Keoki Tavares, Aloha Elixir: “This is the second year participating in the gift show. It’s a lot of fun and an amazing opportunity to expand our locally made products, which are made with intentions of love and aloha, to the rest of the world.”

Brian Kodama, Two Palms: “We love it. We’ve been participating in this gift show for the past 7 years, and we are always finding new customers and gaining new exposure of our products.”

Satomi Goo, Tea Chest Hawaii: “We have new customers and products, and this is a great show to introduce our line and receive feedback.” 

Edward Sugimoto, VH07V: “Hawaii loves Japan, and Japan loves Hawaii, so it’s been great to bring the Aloha Spirit to the gift show.

In part, as a result of dollar amount of exports achieved at TIGS, this year’s exhibitors are expected to top $10 million in export sales.

TIGS is the largest international trade show in Japan, drawing 200,000 buyers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers to meet exhibitors at more than 4,500 booths spread out over the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition area.

Photos from TIGS are available on the 2018 TIGS Flickr Album.

Videos from from TIGS are available on Instagram at:


Media Contacts

Christine Hirasa
Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism 
Phone: (808) 587-9006
Mobile: (808) 286-9017