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Patrice Kunesh has a unique perspective on the effects that Native community financial development institutions have across Indian Country. 

As the founding director of the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Kunesh helped develop some of the foundational research on Native CDFIs that demonstrates their value for small business formation and growth within Native communities. She went on to found and serve as director of Peȟíŋ Haha Consulting, a social enterprise focused on policy, advocacy and leadership for Native community building.

Last year, President Biden appointed Kunesh, who is of Standing Rock Lakota descent, to the Community Development Advisory Board, where she serves as a voice for Native Americans and advises on policy issues for the Treasury Department’s CDFI Fund.

Kunesh joined Tribal Business News via Zoom for a conversation about what Indigenous entrepreneurs need to understand about Native CDFIs’ role in accessing capital and how they differ from traditional banks. She also offers her outlook on federal funding levels for Native CDFIs and provides some advice to tribal leaders who may be considering starting a new CDFI, or supporting an existing one. 



EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is part of a multi-part reporting series on the role that Native CDFIs play in small business formation and growth in Indian Country. To support this coverage, Tribal Business News received a grant from URL Media Group, a network of BIPOC media outlets, and the Knight Lenfest Local Media News Transformation Fund


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