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LONGMONT, Colo. — Twenty-five Native community development financial institutions (CDFIs) will split $1.25 million in grant funding aimed at providing help to Native businesses that have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Oweesta Corp., a Longmont, Colo.-based intermediary for Native CDFIs, and Rapid City, S.D.-based advocacy and funding group NDN Collective joined forces to issue the unrestricted grants. The partners selected the 25 Native CDFIs spanning 15 states for the program.

“These Native CDFIs will further their roles as the economic engines for financial sovereignty in Indian Country through the COVID-19 Grant Program,” the companies said in a statement announcing the grants. 

The partners cited the roles that Native CDFIs played in adapting to meet the needs of Native business owners during the pandemic, as many were forced to deal with stay-home orders and significant disruptions of their companies. The situation drove many Native CDFIs to issue emergency relief programs and to work with customers on refinancing or loan deferrals. 

“Knowing that sustaining is not enough, they are also pivoting their business operations and policies to help their communities flourish for a new and better normal,” Oweesta and the NDC Collective stated, calling out Native CDFIs’ “commitment to long-term community resilience and sustainability.”

Applications for the grants were due on Nov. 2, as Tribal Business News previously reported

The grant recipients were: 

  • Eagle Butte, S.D.-based Akiptan Inc.
  • Portland, Ore.-based Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Economic Development Corp. 
  • Rapid City, S.D.-based Black Hills Community Loan Fund
  • Dowagiac, Mich.-based Chi Ishobak Inc.
  • Anchorage, Alaska-based Cook Inlet Lending Center
  • Kapolei, Hawaii-based Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement
  • Hales Corners, Wis.-based First American Capital Corp.
  • Black River Falls, Wis.-based First Nations Community Financial
  • Eagle Butte, S.D.-based Four Bands Community Fund
  • Orono, Maine-based Four Directions Development Corp.
  • Anahola, Hawaii-based Homestead Community Development Corp.
  • Keams Canyon, Ariz.-based Hopi Credit Association
  • Kyle, S.D.-based Lakota Funds
  • Minneapolis, Minn.-based Mni Sota Fund
  • Browning, Mont.-based NACDC Financial Services Inc.
  • Denver, Colo.-based Native American Bank
  • Billings, Mont.-based Native American Development Corp.
  • Lapwai, Idaho-based Nimiipuu Community Development Fund
  • Nespelem, Wash.-based Northwest Native Development Fund
  • Pendleton, Ore.-based Nixyáawii Community Financial Services
  • Salamanca, N.Y.-based Seneca Nation of Indians Economic Development Co.
  • Sisseton, S.D.-based Sisseton Wahpeton Federal Credit Union
  • Juneau, Alaska-based Spruce Root Inc.
  • Fort Washakie, Wyo.-based Wind River Development Fund
  • Lac Du Flambeau, Wis.-based Wisconsin Native Loan Fund

In announcing the funding, Oweesta and NDN Collective also highlighted the activities of two grantees as an example of the efforts Native CDFIs are taking in their local communities. 

For its part, NACDC Financial Services had to help businesses on the Blackfeet Reservation deal with significant revenue losses because of various pandemic-related closures. NACDC Financial Services worked with its more than 600 clients to ensure they all remained open. That included working with them to find capital resources and determining repayment plans and terms on an individual basis, according to a statement. 

NACDC Financial Services now looks to adapt its services to the virtual format.

As well, the partners cited the example of Hopi Credit, which worked with artists and food vendors after the cancellation of the Santa Fe Indian Market and other events by offering emergency small business loans and deferred payments. Hopi Credit plans to use the new funding to hire additional staff to reach out to more entrepreneurs and help create a self-sustaining economy on the reservation.

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