Empowering the Last Frontier: Unveiling the Rise of Women Entrepreneurship in Alaska

In Focus: Some initiatives & schemes that are available for women entrepreneurs in Alaska

#AlaskaWomenEntrepreneurs #EmpowerHerEconomy #AlaskaBusinessWomen

In the vast expanse of Alaska, where wilderness meets opportunity, a silent revolution is taking place. Women entrepreneurs are not only navigating the rugged terrains of the Last Frontier but are also thriving and reshaping the economic landscape of the state. Recent data sheds light on a remarkable phenomenon .Research from OnDeck has revealed that Alaska is leading the way in female business ownership and entrepreneurship. Alaska boasts the highest percentage of female-owned employer firms in the entire United States.

What’s even more striking is that the majority of these women-owned businesses are relatively young, with 71 percent being less than 5 years old, underscoring the dynamic and evolving entrepreneurial spirit in the region, according to the report by UAA’s Center for Economic Development (CED). So, beyond the impressive statistics lies a narrative of job creation and economic vitality. The data strongly suggests that these female-owned enterprises are propelling job growth in Alaska.

However, amid these encouraging trends, the economic status of women in Alaska tells a nuanced story. While there have been commendable advances, women in Alaska still face challenges and inequities that hinder them from realizing their full potential. The gender wage gap has widened since 2004. Alaska stands at the crossroads of opportunity and challenge, ranking in the best third in the nation for women’s Employment & Earnings, yet falling to the middle third for Poverty & Opportunity.

Here, we delve into women entrepreneurship in Alaska, exploring their significant contributions to the state’s economy while addressing persistent gender disparities. Join us on a journey through the icy landscapes, and feel the entrepreneurial spirit that defines Alaska’s women-led businesses and the opportunities that are available.

> YWCA Alaska Economic Empowerment Program

The program’s mission supports building an economy that works for all Alaskans; acts as a catalyst for systemic change; to dismantle systems that contribute to the perpetuation of poverty, homelessness, and inequality.

They provide education to assist people in their efforts to gain control in their own lives through increasing their income and living standards. They foster engagement to build community and a shift in our social conscious towards compassion and respect to bridge the socio-economic divide.

Their Services include: Financial literacy education and work-readiness skill building; Workshops with community partners such as the Anchorage Public Library and Alaska Housing Finance Corporation; Equip people with basic budgeting skills; Coach people to develop informed financial goals, and Provide wealth development opportunities and assist people to address financial emergencies.


> Amber Grants for Women

Are you a woman entrepreneur in Alaska searching for a small business grant? It can be tough to find sites offering grants to women-owned businesses.

But here’s hope. WomensNet will help you find legitimate grants, loans, and other funding for your woman-owned business. If you’re serious about launching your business, you’ll find our site is a key resource, as they give out three $10,000 grants every month!

A good start is with their offer – Amber Grants for Women. Women entrepreneurs from Alaska can apply for this grant, which has been around since 1998.


> The Alaska Women’s Business Center

The Alaska Women’s Business Center supports the startup and growth of women-owned businesses. They help women and their families in Alaska with the connections, resources, and training needed to successfully start and run a business. Their services are open to all.

Actually, Alaska Women’s Business Center helps launch your dream! Starting and running a small business requires a lot of dedication, passion, and time. It takes information, connections, and new skills. They provide free to low-cost classes and free one-on-one business coaching to develop your business, strengthen your systems, work smarter with your team, and increase profit margins.

AWBC is a program of Business Impact NW in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration. The goals are – to increase the number of women-owned small businesses, maximize jobs created by and for those businesses and reinforce the growth, profit, and value of each business.

The Alaska Women’s Business Center at Business Impact NW began on August 1, 2022. Classes are offered virtually to Alaskans throughout the state, with on-demand options available by visiting the training calendar at businessimpactnw.org.


> Alaska Startups

Alaska Startups is a community for – innovators, entrepreneurs and interested people.

You can also join Alaska’s startup community and start your journey! There are many ways to engage and the following are just a few to get started:

-1 Million Cups – a weekly presentation by an entrepreneur and community gathering

-Alaska Startups Facebook page and group – a good way to get to know the startup community

-TechStars Alaska Startup Digest – subscribe for semi-regular startup news and events

-TechStars Alaska Startup Week – an annual celebration of all things entrepreneurship

-$10 Buck Lunch – a meetup of investors and entrepreneurs in Anchorage

-Alaska All Call – a quarterly startup ecosystem roundup

You can find a calendar of Alaska startup events here: AKV3 Entrepreneurship Calendar. There are a number of startup-focused programs in Alaska, which you can check out.


> Women’s Business Center (WBC)

It was announced in 2022, the availability of $150,000 for a new grant opportunity for the established and aspiring Women’s Business Center (WBC) – to host organizations to provide outcome-oriented business services for women entrepreneurs in Alaska.

The new Alaska WBC, which will also be the first to serve the state of Alaska for the Agency in over a decade, will become the SBA’s 1st Women’s Small Business Center – to offer one-on-one counseling, training, networking, workshops, technical assistance, and mentoring to women entrepreneurs on numerous business development topics, including business startup, financial management, marketing, and procurement.

The Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) has made increasing equity for women entrepreneurs a centerpiece of its work. With the new Alaska WBC, the Agency will continue to expand its outreach efforts to small business owners from diverse communities, such as rural-based and Native American and Indigenous-owned small businesses.


> 67 Women Grants for Alaska

Here are a list of 67 grants for women entrepreneurs, seed money to individual women, college grants for women, small business grants for women, enterprise grants and grants for minority women. So, click the link and check out the options.


> University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA)

Supporting business and entrepreneurial capacities across Alaska is what University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) does.

The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Business Enterprise Institute (BEI) links economic development programs across the University of Alaska (UA) system and supports businesses and entrepreneurial capacities across Alaska. BEI provides a platform for high-level consultancy between industries and UAA. Providing economic development-related research and technical assistance, high-level professional education, small business development services and entrepreneurial ecosystem enhancement for Alaska, BEI serves as a bridge to expertise and talents throughout UAA.

-The Center for Economic Development (CED) provides guidance and technical assistance to Alaska’s communities and public entities engaged in job creation and entrepreneurship. The center develops feasibility studies, regional strategic plans, economic impact studies, and a variety of applied research projects on behalf of municipalities, tribes, regional development organizations, and government agencies.

-The Alaska Cooperative Development Center (ACDC) is the only organization in the state solely dedicated to assisting and promoting co-ops as a business model. As part of a large, nationwide effort by the Department of Agriculture, it can draw on expertise both inside Alaska and across the nation to assist new and existing cooperative businesses in Alaskan communities.


> Small Business Assistance Center

Thinking about starting or growing a business? The Small Business Assistance Center provides direction for entrepreneurs, start-ups, and existing businesses in Alaska. Given below are links that will guide you to helpful business resources. Here is a list of Alaska’s Marketing and Export Support Programs:

-Alaska Grown (Products grown in Alaska)

-Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI)

-Made in Alaska (Manufactured products in Alaska)

-Silver Hand (Alaskan Native hand crafted products)

-Tourism Marketing – Alaska Travel Industry Association

-Alaska Export Assistance Center

-Export Assistance – Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority

For financing your small business, here are some positive options:

Finding funding to launch your business, buy machinery, purchase equipment for your boat or plane can be challenging. Depending on your needs, there are regional, state, and federal loan programs that may be able to assist:

-State of Alaska Loan Programs (Division of Investments)

-Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority Loan Participation Program

-Spruce Root Loan Program (CDFI Lender)

-Alaska Commercial Fishing and Agriculture Bank

-Loans in Southeast Alaska (Juneau Economic Development Council)

-U.S. Small Business Administration Funding Programs

-USDA Loan Guarantees for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers


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