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KELLI NAMBA

Owner of Namba Consulting LLC

Success:

Recently received a year and a half contract with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC) Business Center as their Business Consultant

Kelli Namba, Owner of Namba Consulting LLC, was recently contracted with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC) Business Center as their Business Consultant. Kelli identifies as a full Japanese woman. She has over 10 years of experience working in nonprofit, quasi-nonprofit organizations, and marketing and communications fields. To highlight a few experiences, Kelli worked in numerous organizations, including DTRIC Insurance, the Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership (MCBL) at YWCA O’ahu, and the MBDA Honolulu Business Center at the University of Hawai’i. Kelli is also heavily involved in the community; she serves on the board of the Friends of Mānoa Library and the executive committee for #SHOPSMALLHAWAII. Kelli has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Sociology from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa as well as a Master of Business Administration degree from the Chaminade University of Honolulu. Most recently, Kelli established her own consulting company, Namba Consulting LLC.

Namba Consulting LLC is a boutique consulting firm that specializes in business and marketing and communications for small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Kelli began her consulting business in 2017 so she would be able to take on side projects while working full-time. After leaving employment with YWCA O’ahu in 2018, she became a contractor to provide marketing/communications and administrative support, and later business counseling for MCBL clients. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelli began to see a drastic increase of opportunities from various potential clients. “It wasn’t until 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that I started receiving more inquiries and opportunities to expand my consulting business. MCBL contracted with me to provide business counseling to its clients and I also began working with other small business and nonprofit clients of my own,” Kelli mentions.

In March 2021, Kelli received another contract from the MBDA EWOC Business Center to provide her business counseling services to our clients over the span of a year and a half. She was thrilled upon receiving this contract with MBDA EWOC Business Center. “I was very excited for YWCA O‘ahu when I found out they had been awarded the grant for the MBDA EWOC Business Center and grateful for the opportunity to join the team as a business counselor. It’s such a great opportunity to be able to assist more woman-owned small businesses and I look forward to being part of the Center’s development and success…” Kelli says. With her skills, knowledge, and experience, Kelli wants to ensure that she is helping the clients with their exact needs.

“As a business counselor, many of the clients I work with are in the idea phase or very early stages of their entrepreneurial journey, while others are in the growth stages. I advise clients on a variety of topics including choice of entity, basic accounting and bookkeeping, marketing and communications, and federal procurement. Sometimes it’s also about being an ear and just being there to support them as someone who understands what it’s like to be a small business owner. Other times, I assist them with organizing and prioritizing their tasks and to-do lists. I enjoy learning about all the clients and their businesses – each one is so unique and interesting. Once I learn more about their businesses and what they need help with, I do my best to provide them with information and resources…”–Kelli Namba, Owner, Namba Consulting LLC

Kelli will provide advanced business counseling services to the MBDA EWOC Business Center clients on topics including business development, access to markets, marketing, business management, access to funding, and other topics that are related to business growth opportunities. To gain a better sense of how she can be of service to clients, she meets one-on-one with clients to learn more about them and their business. “I do my best to help them whether that’s sharing information with them, making recommendations, and/or providing them with resources,” Kelli adds. Kelli mentions what she is looking forward to most with this new contract with the MBDA EWOC Business Center and how she will provide her business consulting services to the clients and Center:

“What I am looking forward to most with this new contract with the MBDA EWOC Business Center is working with this new business center’s staff and clients. Since the Center is so new, there’s so much potential to expand its offerings and I’m excited to be a part of the efforts to help clients have greater access to contracts and funding opportunities…”–Kelli Namba

With business counseling comes many difficulties, just as any other job. Because business counselors’ clientele constantly falls into different industries, it requires business counselors to have the capability and skill set to pivot between clients. “The most challenging thing about being a business counselor is having to be very adaptive and open. Every client and their business are different, so I have to try my best to tailor my responses and approaches to best suit them as individuals,” Kelli said. On the other hand, Kelli expresses that a highlight she has experienced throughout her journey as a business counselor is assisting and connecting clients with the appropriate resources they need to grow their business.

“I love to see our clients doing well, whether that means that they have officially registered their business, got some new marketing ideas, increased their sales, obtained a contract, or signed up for a class to learn more about starting or growing their business… The ultimate goal I have for them is to have their questions answered whether by me directly or through a resource or network that I can connect them with. I want them to leave feeling satisfied and supported.” –Kelli Namba

News reports may suggest that business and entrepreneurial industries are becoming more gender-equal, however, there is a clear revenue gap between male- and female-owned businesses. Women only account for 45% of all small business owners. and 52% of sole proprietors in the U.S. Kelli has also faced the challenges and obstacles of being a woman-business owner and a woman in the business industry. She expresses that with the guidance and support from others, it allowed her to break through obstacles and gain the confidence required to thrive in this industry. “I have wonderful clients who are very supportive, and we’ve developed great relationships with each other over time,” Kelli says. Despite business consulting and entrepreneurship being quite a male-dominated industry, Kelli continues to assist others to the best of her abilities and flourish as a business owner.

Kelli’s piece of advice to aspiring small business owners:

“I encourage everyone to make sure they focus on working on their business versus in their business. As small business owners, we’re often caught up in the day-to-day operation because we’re responsible for all aspects of the company from accounting to HR, but it’s so important to consider the ‘big picture’ and think about strategic planning, goals, marketing, and business development.” –Kelli Namba