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CDFI Empowerment Conference Kicks Off in Bismarck

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Leaders of the Native CDFI Network and the CDFI Fund are hosting the CDFI Empowerment Conference in Bismarck, North Dakota, today. The conference will guide tribes and community development financial institutions (CDFI) in harnessing the power of CDFIs to promote entrepreneurship and economic development in Indian country.

Tanya Fiddler, executive director of Native CDFI Network; Annie Donovan, director of the CDFI Fund; and Chrystel Cornelius, director of OWEESTA; are leading the CDFI Empowerment Conference, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Heritage Center, 612 East Boulevard Avenue, Bismarck, North Dakota.

Access to Capital and Credit in Native Communities, published in partnership with the Native Nations Institute, will be the subject of the panel discussion in the afternoon.

This comprehensive study covers:

• Successes and opportunities for Native CDFIs
• Financial education & capability
• Native entrepreneurship
• Housing finance
• Capital & credit for tribal governments
• Tribal legal infrastructure

This report emerges from the CDFI Fund’s commitment to helping Native communities develop through increased access to capital. The ideas presented are grounded in an understanding of current economic conditions in Native communities and in established research concerning the drivers of economic change in Native nations. They also reflect voices from the field, a key aspect of the research methodology.

The fivefold increase in Native CDFIs since 2001 represents a remarkable achievement. Native CDFIs now provide access to capital and credit for hundreds of Native individuals and families who, prior to the development of a local CDFI, lacked a practical way to transform their dreams of, for example, owning a business or owning a home into reality.

The conference will conclude with a convening of members of the new North Dakota CDFI Association.