“One of the beautiful things about CDFIs—Native CDFIs in general—is we have to provide education and training in conjunction with our lending activities. So when you pair those two things together, we are seeing great success. We’re changing the economic landscapes of our communities and providing opportunity which normally hasn’t been provided.”
Chrystel Cornelius (Ojibwe; Oneida), President and CEO, Oweesta Corporation
A Win-Win Investment with Lasting Impact
Native CDFIs are proven and promising partners that make a positive difference in Indian Country successfully and sustainably.
Native CDFIs are building equitable economies in Native communities by opening doors to loans, extending credit to thriving businesses, generating good jobs, and expanding access to new opportunities.
They build trust, strong community relationships, and self-determination to help Native communities overcome challenges of accessing credit and building assets created by economic systems that have harmed them or ignored their needs.
Bringing Dreams to Life for Multiple Generations
Native CDFIs understand the unique assets and needs of Native communities and cultures, respecting their perspectives and honoring their histories. This is what makes Native CDFIs capable of establishing a powerful infrastructure for economic and cultural wealth that is built to last.
Enabling Native Communities to Thrive in the Face of Historic Impacts
To invest for prosperity in Native communities, successful financial services need to reflect traditional values, guided by the wisdom to plan for multiple generations.
The services must also account for the impact of history. The systemic racism, violence, and exclusion that began in these lands centuries ago continues today—resulting in traumas, financial instability, and other barriers that make it harder for the communities we partner with to thrive on their own terms.
Native communities are relentlessly resilient. Businesses have fought to create jobs and give back. Workers have generated cash and employment in places without a main street or a bank to support them. More entrepreneurs and families need access to capital that’s tailored to their culture and way of life.
Native CDFIs understand this need and are experts in serving, responding, and delivering results successfully. Their practical know-how builds upon the wealth of wisdom in Native communities and the need to heal. They connect investors to Native businesses with a respect for history, culture, and context that helps communities thrive for the long term.
Five Reasons to Partner with Native CDFIs for Long-Term Impact
We talked to leaders of banks, asset management firms, financial institutions, and other funders and partners about what convinced them to invest in Native CDFIs. It all comes down to successful long-term impact.
How Financial Institutions Can Support Native CDFIs
Provide technical assistance.
One of the ways that financial institutions often work with Native CDFIs is by providing IT support and technical assistance, an area of expertise many institutions already provide to their bank or credit union network. And there are plenty of other ways to offer in-kind assistance.
Offer capital through loans.
Capital investments in Native CDFIs can be impactful at any size—even small loans impact economic opportunity, and larger investments are easy through Oweesta Corporation, the only Native CDFI intermediary lender.
Match government dollars to build Native CDFI lending capacity.
The Native American CDFI Assistance Program from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund awards loans, grants, deposits, and equity investments for Native CDFIs, but requires a dollar-for-dollar match from a non-federal source. Through matching, community banks can help Native CDFIs meet the federal requirement for financial assistance awards to help grow their lending capacity.
Meet requirements in the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).
Banks can meet their CRA requirements by investing or partnering with a Native CDFI, an opportunity that assessment regulators promote and support. Options include providing equity capital and bank services. Just ask your regulator, who can help you find the right investment fit for CRA consideration.
“I think there is some real room for investors to be able to develop programs where they’re either lending to Native CDFIs, or making private capital investments into CDFIs. . . . If you take into account the huge positive impact on the community you’re helping to bring about, then these are wonderful investments.”