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Oweesta Announces Three Certified Native CDFIs

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First Nations Oweesta Corporation, the Longmont, Colorado- and Rapid City, South Dakota-based company that works to develop native assets at a local level, recently announced three new certified Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) by the CDFI Fund: Aleutian Financial, the Indian Land Capital Company, and Turtle Mountain Community Development Financial Institution.

“This brings the total Native CDFIs to 62, which is a major increase from there being only two Native CDFIs 10 years ago,” said Jon Panamaroff, chief operating officer and director of lending operations for Oweesta.

Aleutian Financial, incorporated in 2007 in Anchorage, Alaska, assists entrepreneurs in the remote Native Alaskan community the Aleutian Islands of Alaska with business training, incubation and access to capital. It also provides housing and small business loans to residents.

“The people of the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Region are among the most under-banked and isolated communities in the United States. We are truly honored to join the growing numbers of community development financial institutions serving our Native Americans,” said Lori Canady, president and CEO of Aleutian Financial.

Indian Land Capital Company (ILCC), incorporated in 2005, lends to tribal governments to finance land acquisition and management. Essentially, the company aims to help tribes recover and develop land to boast their economies and preserve their culture and sovereignty. It offers development services such as one-on-one technical assistance to applicants and borrowers, including the development of land acquisition plans, strategies, and management systems.

"We have worked hard at creating a viable business model and the CDFI Fund certification will allow us to continue important partnerships with groups such as the Oweesta Corporation, which provides capital to Native CDFIs, to take place,” said Gerald Sherman, president and CEO of Indian Land Capital Company. “It will help ILCC bring more financial resources to play in the increasingly robust economic activity currently spreading throughout Indian Country."

In late March, ILCC announced plans to raise $4 million this year to create a $100 million investment fund from tribal sources for Indian Country over the next decade, according to a news release.

Turtle Mountain Community Development Financial Institution, located in north central North Dakota, serves the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. Incorporated in 2008, the Turtle Mountain CDFI was created to establish and expand financial development services to its 16,500 enrolled members living on or near the reservation. The CDFI offers a range of loans designed to build credit, develop small businesses and assist homeowners. In order to be eligible for loans, all clients are required to attend financial literacy courses. Turtle Mountain CDFI has received two Native American CDFI Assistance (NACA) Program awards totaling $268,000, stated the CDFI Fund.

“Since our inception, we have worked diligently to respond to the needs of our community by offering lending products and services that will have the greatest impact on our tribal membership," said Chrystel Cornelius, executive director of Turtle Mountain CDFI. "With the formal certification issued for the Turtle Mountain CDFI, it really is a testament of our tribal members’ success and hard work given the opportunity, in which we are honored to have been able to provide."