Ulupono Initiative
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Investment Criteria

Ulupono Initiative invests in innovative organizations to catalyze change. Our work focuses on what we can change in our sector areas to improve our lives and our community.


Local Food 48%
Renewable Energy 49%
Waste Reduction 3%
Water Management 1%

Portfolio Graph
Portfolio Graph2    

Grants/Donations 16% 
Investments/Trials 84%
Total $77,104,422*

*approximate as of 12/2017

Each year Ulupono typically focuses on several investments of $1 million to $3 million for key mission-focused projects. We work closely with investees to help them achieve their goals, seeking a governance role where appropriate. Ulupono proactively seeks new investments based on our investment area strategies and systems thinking approach, rather than simply a reactive, project-by-project approach.

To have the greatest impact on our investees and our mission, Ulupono considers the following criteria when evaluating both for-profit and non-profit projects for potential investments:

  • Impact and Mission Alignment:  We look for potential to catalyze meaningful changes in moving Hawaii toward sustainability through Ulupono’s four objectives – locally producing more food, increasing renewable energy, and better management of waste and water. 
  • Focused on Hawaii:  We seek to nurture innovative ideas based in Hawaii, recognizing that a healthy economy and a healthy environment go hand in hand.
  • Best-in-class:  We strive to find proven projects that display a unique or innovative advantage over others in industry/class and therefore, these projects are scalable and replicable; they can and should be expanded and reproduced.
  • Strong Leadership and Management:  We invest in teams with strong, proven track records – or data, models, or metrics to support the clearly defined vision – and a plan of action. The organizations must demonstrate operational efficiency, controls, transparent practices, and disciplined financial planning and adhere to a shared human rights policy.
  • Long-Term Viability:  We seek a realistic plan for long-term sustainability as a standalone entity. Our investments are meant to serve as a catalyst, so we want to see how an organization’s own capacity will allow it to carry out its mission in the future. We do not want to be the sole source of funding.
  • Shared Values:  We identify with organizations that exhibit shared core values of respect for others, high standards, learning and growth, creativity, courage, humility, and a pono approach. 
  • Collaboration Wanted:  We encourage building alliances, collaborating and working together within our diverse community.

In addition to the criteria listed above, we also consider the following for our For-Profit Investments:

  • Risk and Returns:  Because Ulupono is an impact investment firm, the money we invest must yield returns to help fund future investments in mission-aligned projects. Therefore, we look for more fully developed projects that will bring a high rate of return commensurate with the risk involved.