Alaska Growth Capital announced the three winners of its 2019 North Slope Marketplace business plan competition during a luncheon on October 15 at the Elders and Youth Conference in Fairbanks. Ronette Panningona, Floreen Stone and Sophia Segevan – all Alaska Native Iñupiat entrepreneurs – were each awarded between $10,000 – $25,000 in startup capital and $4,500 to use for technical training to move forward their business ideas supporting expansion and diversification of the North Slope economy.
Ronette Panningona lives in Utqiaġvik and wants to grow her beaded accessories business, providing classes to the community and beyond. Floreen Stone lives in Point Hope and wants to start a business creating and selling traditional Iñupiat clothing such as parkas and atikluks. Sophia Segevan lives in Wainwright and wants to open a coffee shop in her community, selling espresso and more.
Alaska Growth Capital’s North Slope Marketplace business plan competition provides technical and financial support through an annual competition for Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) shareholders, encouraging adaptive entrepreneurial activity on the North Slope. Since 2009 Alaska Growth Capital has awarded over $1 million to more than 50 North Slope businesses through the program. “Alaska Growth Capital is proud to support these rising indigenous North Slope entrepreneurs and we’re excited to have created a unique, culturally-relevant business curriculum for this program,” said Mary Miner, Vice President of Community Development at Alaska Growth Capital.
The 2019 North Slope Marketplace business plan competition brought eight semi-finalists together in a cohort for an intensive three-day business training in Utqiaġvik in August (you can view the video here) that gave participants the tools they needed to write a business plan, with the support of local mentors and experts. Semi-finalists then wrote business plans and created financial projections for review; the three winners were chosen from this group.
“This program has given me a much better understanding of what it takes to open a business on the North Slope,” said Floreen Stone from Point Hope. “I hope to set an example for my family and my community.”
The 2019 North Slope Marketplace Business Plan Competition was made possible with financial support from Arctic Education Foundation, ASRC Industrial Services, ASRC Federal, ASRC Construction, and in partnership with the Alaska Center for Rural Collaboration, which is funded by a grant from the USDOC-Minority Business Development Agency and is a program of the University of Alaska Anchorage Business Enterprise Institute.