Learn How Native CDFIs Help Create Opportunity Rooted in Culture
Communities can strengthen financial know-how, overcome barriers to credit, and build Native-led opportunity through Native CDFIs.
Tribal communities know what is best for their futures. Native CDFIs are holistically grounded in Native history and culture and steeped in authentic relationship to community needs. Many Native CDFIs operate on tribal lands, and many are managed and staffed by tribal citizens. Native CDFIs support ideas generated by the community; they’re passionate about following the community’s lead.
“The exciting opportunities for Native CDFIs in the area of homeownership is to really connect with the community about their basic financial needs. . . . I see Native CDFIs building hope; it’s one person at a time, it’s one family at a time, it’s one community at a time.”
— Patrice Kunesh
(Standing Rock Lakota), Assistant Vice President and Co-director, Center for Indian Country Development, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Native CDFIs often provide the only lending opportunity in tribal communities.
Communities have often established their own lending and credit systems, especially when traditional banks haven’t met their needs. Although the term “CDFI” is relatively new, the concept is grounded in a rich history of strong, self-determined community leadership.
It’s not uncommon for people living in Native communities to drive for hours to reach the nearest bank or even an ATM. Many Native entrepreneurs and Native-led businesses can’t gain the capital and services necessary for their businesses to succeed. Native CDFIs connect tribal governments to new investment opportunities. They build stronger ties between local enterprise and funding from banks, investors, and government agencies that haven’t always been available in sovereign tribal nations.
Here are some already-existing federal programs that are encouraging and supporting Native CDFI programs.
A number of economic and community development programs can provide equity, loans, loan security, and other credit enhancements that support Native CDFIs’ work.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund (CDFI Fund) and its Native Initiatives program bolsters economic self-determination in Native communities through a variety of opportunities that foster Native CDFI/community bank partnerships.  In many cases, banks with a Native CDFI in their assessment area could leverage public funds to support technical assistance, trainings, and more.
Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program (HUD) is a game changer for homeownership in tribal communities. HUD can attract outside investments from financial institutions. It provides them with a 100% loan guarantee to assure investments held in Indian Country trust lands will be repaid in full. 
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) encourages financial institutions to invest in Native CDFIs. Banks can choose to make a small dollar deposit (under $250,000) to a Native CDFI backed by FDIC insurance.  Credit unions participating in the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service (CDARS) can be insured if making a deposit over $250,000.