Learn How Native CDFIs Are Partners for Self-Determined Communities

“Want to get a loan? Start a business? That’s next to impossible without a mainstream financial institution. Native CDFIs fill the gap.”

— Tanya Fiddler (Cheyenne River Sioux), Executive Director, Native CDFI Network

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Native CDFIs help you successfully drive investment and prosperity in tribal communities, rooted in culture.

Native CDFIs are led by people with deep knowledge of their communities. Most Native CDFIs operate on tribal lands, and many are managed and staffed by tribal citizens. They’re anchored in local culture and are passionate about creating opportunities for growth.

Native CDFIs weave together culturally informed relationships that bridge traditional cash economies with the financial mainstream, making financial education and services available to tribal members.

“We’re really building financial capabilities of our tribal members so now we’re [at] a point to where people know how to prudently manage their credit savings account. They know what’s good credit, what’s a predatory loan, and they’re ready to build their own assets, which in turn builds community assets.”

— Chrystel Cornelius (Ojibwe, Oneida), Executive Director, First Nations Oweesta Corporation

They help tribal members open bank accounts, access credit, and make savings plans. Families can purchase their homes, Native-led businesses can secure loans, and communities can build long-term wealth.

Native CDFIs help tribal governments achieve their economic development goals.

Native CDFIs can offer expertise to tribal governments, helping them advance their economic development goals and produce concrete results within their communities. Native CDFIs lay the groundwork for investment in Native communities and the growth of economic infrastructure by providing capital and financial assistance, education, and training.

It can be challenging for tribal governments to advance social entrepreneurship and economic development with existing resources. Native CDFIs connect tribal governments to new Native financial investment opportunities. This builds stronger ties between local enterprise and funding from banks, investors, and government agencies. These opportunities haven’t always been available in sovereign tribal nations.

Native CDFIs also help local economies grow beyond government support. Many development plans need a boost of awareness and support to move forward. Native CDFIs help provide this boost. They often advise tribal governments, providing support to craft policies, practices, written codes, and laws that encourage and sustain economic growth.

Here are some already-existing federal support programs that are strengthening Native CDFIs!

A number of economic and community development programs can provide equity, loans, loan security, and other credit enhancements that support Native CDFIs’ work.

Treasury supports partnerships
with community financial institutions
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund (CDFI Fund) created its Native Initiatives program to bolster economic self-determination in Native communities through a variety of opportunities that foster Native CDFI/community bank partnerships. [1] In many cases, banks with a Native CDFI in their assessment area could leverage public funds to support technical assistance, trainings, and more.

HUD can help secure home loans for tribal members
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. [2]

FDIC and CDARS back up small dollar deposits
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. [3] Credit unions participating in the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service (CDARS) can be insured if making a deposit over $250,000. [4]

“I’ve seen it done. When they [financial institutions] take that leap and partner with tribes, marvelous things happen. . . . Building that business relationship and then really constructing a whole community.”

— Patrice Kunesh (Standing Rock Lakota), Assistant Vice President and Co-director, Center for Indian Country Development, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

“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), Executive Director, First Nations Oweesta Corporation

“[We] invest in an individual to begin to build their capacity and their family wealth and assets. . . . That’s one of the reasons Native CDFIs are climbing off the [growth] charts.”

— Tanya Fiddler (Cheyenne River Sioux), Executive Director, Native CDFI Network

“I think investors would get it much faster . . . if they could go see a reservation community and see the work of Native CDFIs and meet some of the entrepreneurs we’re working with.”

— Krystal Langholz, Chief Operations Officer, First Nations Oweesta Corporation


Learn how Native CDFIs are helping tribal governments achieve their economic development goals.

Northwest Native Development Fund (NNDF)

NNDF is growing its lending and training programs with funding support from Wells Fargo Diverse Community Capital Program and from us. Recently, NNDF helped a Native entrepreneur open a first-of-its-kind restaurant on the Colville Reservation, giving locals an opportunity to stop by for a nutritious meal. NNDF supplied the training and financing support to get the idea off the ground. Learn why Wells Fargo is proud to invest in NNDF.

Native American Development Corporation (NADC)

NADC has a long, successful history of supporting Native entrepreneurs, providing sustainable business plans, loans, and technical assistance. Over the years, NADC has worked closely with more than 20 tribes in the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains. Recently, they partnered with Billings-based Rocky Mountain Bank to help one tribe get the funding needed to start a major development project that would help them become completely self-sufficient. Learn what was eye opening for Rocky Mountain Bank’s market president in this partnership.

First Nations Oweesta Corporation

The only Native CDFI intermediary, Oweesta offers financial products and development services exclusively to Native CDFIs and Native communities. As investments and homeownership in Indian Country spike, Oweesta helps Native CDFIs meet climbing capital demands through their membership services and by strengthening the connection between financial institutions and Native CDFIs. Check out this example—Oweesta brought together Native leaders and investors for networking and relationship building.

NACDC Financial Services

NACDC recently expanded their program to include homeownership loans after years of successful lending to support Native agriculturalists, artists, small-business leaders, and more. Last year, the Kendeda Fund showed its confidence in NACDC with a multiyear, $200,000 grant to support their lending capital programs. Find out what projects NACDC hopes this funding will help support.

“Want to get a loan? Start a business? That’s next to impossible without a mainstream financial institution. Native CDFIs fill the gap.”

— Tanya Fiddler (Cheyenne River Sioux), Executive Director, Native CDFI Network

Stay informed about Native CDFIs! Join hundreds of Native leaders who receive the latest updates.

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