AFN’s Alaska Marketplace: Investing in Alaska’s Best Ideas

The AFN Alaska Marketplace (AKM) is the latest in AFN’s long history of initiatives intended to foster growth in rural economies where so many Alaska Natives live and work, stimulating economic growth in rural Alaska by tapping into the deep cultural knowledge and skills of Alaska residents.

The Alaska Marketplace brings together visionaries, financiers, technical experts and entrepreneurs in an ideas competition that promotes new organizational concepts that employ innovative ways of driving economic development and serving our communities in rural Alaska.

The 2011 Alaska Marketplace theme is “Planting Seeds of Change.” AKM Business/Nonprofit Plans and Essays must address the competition theme and one of the following sub-themes:

  • Emerging Technology: Practical use of new technology to create village enterprises, such as use of cell phones or digital media.
  • Education & Development: Innovative ideas to encourage life-long learning and enable people to thrive in a rapidly changing world.
  • Health & Well-Being: New and inventive plans to support the physical and mental health of Rural Alaska residents.
  • Land, Natural Resources & the Environment: Innovative ways to implement affordable, alternative energy sources, and sustainably reap the fruitsof our land and natural resources.
  • Youth & Children: Fresh, pragmatic ideas from and/or for those under 18 about fostering economic development, strengthening communities and improving the quality of life in Rural Alaska.

Essay Writers may also choose to address one additional sub-theme:

  • Native Rights Protection & Legal Empowerment: Ideas to protect Native rights and empower Alaska Native peoples through law.

This year, innovators are invited to compete in one of two ways, by submitting either a Business/Nonprofit Plan or an AKM Essay describing their unique ideas for creating jobs, stimulating village economies and bettering our communities.

AKM Essay writers compete for one of six $1K awards, one for each of the competition sub-themes, plus a $5K grand prize for the top essay.

The innovators with the most promising Business/Nonprofit Plans become finalists
and receive entrepreneurial training and implementation plan coaching to refine
their concepts. Applicants’ ideas are evaluated based on their level of innovation, sustainability and profitability, poverty reduction/job creation and cultural heritage. Funds are then awarded to the winners to develop and implement their business plans and ideas. Past Business/Nonprofit Plan awards have ranged from $6K to $50K per winner.

The Alaska Marketplace has had a meaningful impact on economic activity in rural
Alaska since it began in 2006. Alaska Marketplace award money has enabled new jobs and businesses to be created where none existed, and participants have developed tangible new skill sets because of the technical assistance they received during the competition. Even participants who did not win award money have expressed their appreciation for the competition, and some have reported that they are continuing to carry forward their business/idea.

The Alaska Marketplace is an Alaska Federation of Natives initiative modeled after
The World Bank’s Development Marketplace. Initially underwritten by the Denali
Commission, the Alaska Marketplace is supported by a growing list of partners including BP, ConocoPhillips and the Mitsubishi Foundation.

The deadline for submissions is August 1, 2011.  To submit your entry, check out

The Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) is the largest statewide Native organization in Alaska. Its membership includes 178 villages (both federally-recognized tribes and village corporations), 13 regional Native corporations and 12 regional nonprofit and tribal consortiums that contract and run federal and state programs. AFN is governed by a 37-member Board, which is elected by its membership at the annual convention held each October. The mission of AFN is to enhance and promote the cultural, economic and political voice of the entire Alaska Native community.

Previous articleUAA’s New Sports Arena
Next articleBook Review: Spoon Fed by Kim Severson