Pacific Business Center Program coordinates prestigious business fellowships

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Byron Apo, (808) 956-2495
Research/Fiscal Manager
Posted: Jan 29, 2009

For the 5th consecutive year, the Pacific Business Center Program (PBCP) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa coordinated the Island Fellows Program in conjunction with the Department of the Interior‘s Office of Insular Affairs (OIA). The Island Fellows Program provides MBA candidates the chance to work on private sector development initiatives for the U.S.-affiliated Insular Areas.

Each year MBA candidates from top-ranked business schools around the country are selected to carry out the private sector development initiatives of the OIA. Island Fellows visit insular areas including American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau.

This year, students were tasked with two significant projects. Each Island Fellow introduced the new, web-based networking system, Island Business Link, to their designated insular area. Island Business Link provides an electronic system for islanders to develop business opportunities around the world and stimulate private-sector economic development. (Island Business Link can be found at In addition, Island Fellows marketed the DOI‘s fifth "Conference on Business Opportunities in the Islands" set to take place April 6-8, 2009 in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi.

The Pacific Business Center Program (PBCP) worked closely with the Department of the Interior to provide administrative support and technical assistance for the program. In addition, PBCP coordinated all travel plans and arranged events for the Island Fellows during their stopover to Hawaiʻi. In June 2008, the Island Fellows were treated to three days in Hawaiʻi, which included lectures at the School of Travel Industry Management at the University of Hawaiʻi and a unique cultural event to expose students to the Pacific Island cultures.

Eight extraordinary MBA candidates were selected this year, including the University of Hawaiʻi‘s Shidler College of Business MBA Candidate, Zubin Menon. The University of Hawaiʻi has garnered one of the coveted Island Fellow positions each year of the program. Seven other Fellows were chosen from Wharton School of Business in the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard Business School, Columbia School of Business, Kellogg School of Management in Northwestern University, and McDonough School of Business in Georgetown University.

Menon returned from his experience in the Republic of the Marshall Islands with a sincere appreciation for the opportunity. Menon summed it up by saying, "This was an incredible internship in so many ways. I had a sense that we were doing something really worthwhile by helping individuals in the Insular Areas to showcase their products and services on Island Business Link. Working side by side with such a diverse, talented group of MBA students was also very rewarding. I'm really hopeful that the work we did last summer will bear fruit in the form of some new business opportunities in the Insular Areas."

The University of Hawaiʻi Pacific Business Center Program was established in 1979 to provide entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profits, and government agencies with economic and business development technical assistance by utilizing the resources of the University of Hawaiʻi. PBCP‘s mission is to help indigenous island economies help themselves by adapting the scientific and technical resources of the University of Hawaiʻi to support pacific island economic, business and community development in a manner that is holistic, responsible and builds local island capacity. PBCP also operates the Honolulu Minority Business Enterprise Center (HMBEC), which is part of a network of centers fostering the establishment and growth of minority-owned businesses in America.

Major funders of the PBCP include the U.S. Department of Commerce‘s Economic Development Administration and Minority Business Development Agency, the U.S. Department of the Interior‘s Office of Insular Affairs, the University of Hawaiʻi, the UH Shidler College of Business, and some of the governments of the American Affiliated Pacific Islands. The Center serves Hawaiʻi and the American Affiliated Pacific Islands, including American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republics of Palau and the Marshall Islands. (

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