Isle firms seekWhen the Asian Development Bank has its 34th annual meeting in May, Will Hartzell will be there looking for an opportunity.
Millions of dollars will beBy Lyn Danninger
up for grabs as the Asian
Development Bank meets in May
Hartzell, president of Safe Water Systems LLC, will join about 1,000 Hawaii businesspeople at the Hawaii Business Forum, a series of events to link local companies seeking to do business in Asia with Asian Development Bank officials and companies experienced with ADB projects.
Safe Water, headquartered at the Manoa Innovation Center, has already done well on its own with its solar water pasteurizer, which uses the sun's energy to cleanse harmful bacteria from water.
"We've been distributing it for the last five years and have it installed in 40 countries," Hartzell said.
The company plans to exhibit a scale model of the device at the Hawaii Business Forum, hoping to pick up more clients. The forum is a series of meetings, social events and a business exhibition in conjunction with the ADB conference May 7-11 at the Hawaii Convention Center.
The main event for Hawaii Business Forum is May 8, a day of seminars, speakers and receptions focusing on how businesses can work with ADB, said Gerry Silva, the Hawaii Tourism Authority's coordinator for the ADB conference.
Silva said he is expecting 3,500 people to attend the ADB conference, including those from the 59 member countries, their guests, members of affiliated organizations, international corporations and banks.
Many of the ADB participants will attend Hawaii Business Forum events, Silva said. It will be at those activities and functions that many of the business contacts are likely to be made.
Most of Safe Water's business so far has been with nongovernment organizations and service organizations such as Rotary International, Hartzell said.
A small water pasteurization unit that would disinfect water for up to 1,000 people costs about $2,500, he said. Still, the cost is more than many small towns and villages in Asia and the Pacific could afford. But with ADB's capacity to fund large scale projects, much more can be achieved to improve global water safety, Hartzell said.
"This takes it to the next level," he said.
For companies who want to start doing business with ADB but are not sure where to start, the business forum is a good first step, Hartzell said.
It's also possible the contacts made could allow a Hawaii company to start off small and get a foot in the door with ADB, said Hartzell.
"You could end up being a subcontractor or a supplier to a larger company that's exhibiting," he said. "In fact, that may be the best tactic because some of these contracts are enormous."
Another Hawaii-based company looking to expand its business through the conference is Infoserve International. The banking software company, founded in the Philippines, moved its international headquarters to Hawaii this year.
Company President George Lisandrello said the banking software company has done well in the Philippines, with 70 customers and over 800 bank branches using its software.
It has also recently secured contracts in Indonesia and Bangladesh. But, like Manoa's Safe Water Systems, a link with ADB opens up global possibilities for the company.
With around 1,400 representatives from banks world-wide attending ADB, the timing couldn't be better, said Lisandrello. "We expect to get contracts in a couple of countries where they (ADB) have funded projects in the finance industry,'' he said.
Lisandrello said he views the ADB meeting and all the related activities it spawns such as the Hawaii Business Forum as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any company wanting to expand their business.
"When you think, it's (the ADB conference) is only held in the U.S. once every 20 years. Hawaii got it because of problems with the Seattle situation. There's millions of dollars at stake so this is not just a convention, it's a really big deal."
Friday is the registration deadline for businesses who want to participate in the Hawaii Business Forum. Registration is done only online, at www.hawaiibusinessforum.org, and is limited. Registration also provides access to Asian Development Bank events on a space-available basis. For more information, call the University of Hawaii Conference Center at 956-8204.
Hawaii Business Forum
What: Networking events with attendees of the Asian Development Bank conference
When: May 8
Where: Hawaii Convention Center