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Native CDFI Awards Honours CILC & BHCLF


Native CDFIs play pivotal role in opportunity creation through their financing support which they carried on even amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Indian Country.

Dailycsr.com – 13 November 2020 – Two of Native “community development financial institutions”, in short CDFIs, namely “Cook Inlet Lending Center in Alaska and Black Hills Community Loan Fund in South Dakota”, have received the Native CDFI Awards in recognition to their “unique approach” towards supporting “Native-owned small businesses” amid the pandemic crisis
In the battle of COVID-19 pandemic, which affected the native communities disproportionately, Native CDFI came forward to offer “critical resources” to combat “the health and economic crisis”. Moreover, the Native CDFI is rooted in native history and culture which supports financially “locally-owned businesses” whereby sparking community growth even in underserved areas by “mainstream finance” besides offering “economic relief during disaster”.
The Native CDFI Awards was launched in 2019 in partnership with “Wells Fargo, Oweesta Corporation, the oldest Native CDFI intermediary, and Opportunity Finance Network (OFN)” with the aim of recognising and supporting Native CDFIs that create opportunity and promote “self-sovereignty in Indian Country nationwide”. In the words of Wells Fargo Foundation’s president, Nate Hurst:
“Far too many Native communities face barriers to accessing capital in the U.S.. We recognize that this has been even more challenging over the past nine months as the pandemic and economic downturn have hit these important communities especially hard. This year’s awardees exemplify the ingenuity, creativity, and knowledge of Native-led CDFIs, filling capital gaps and uplifting tribal communities, one investment at a time.”
Here is some information about the “2020 Native CDFI Awardees”, as mentioned by Wells Fargo’s press release:
  • Native CDFI Catalyst AwardCook Inlet Lending Center (CILC) serves low- to moderate-income households that lack access to affordable financial products and services in the Cook Inlet region of Alaska. For Anchorage small businesses impacted by COVID-19, CILC has developed a business stabilization strategy — Survive-Adapt-Thrive — to help the businesses ride out the current recession.
“An innovative combination of flexible financial products and supportive services, Survive-Adapt-Thrive responds to the moment by providing access to affordable capital that small businesses need immediately and long term. The approach is designed for struggling small businesses that have the potential to recover and flourish and are owned by people of color, women, and Alaska Natives.
  • CILC will use its $100,000 Native Catalyst Award grant to build the staff capacity required to successfully implement its strategy.
  • Native CDFI Seed Capital AwardBlack Hills Community Loan Fund (BHCLF) creates financial opportunities for economically disadvantaged families who aim to strengthen their financial future in the Black Hills Region. BHCLF will use its $25,000 Native CDFI Seed Capital Award to support Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota artists during this unprecedented time.
“Due to the pandemic, tribal artists are unable to sell their products through the usual venues like art festivals, pow-wows, and museums. BHCLF is collaborating with Native Pop, a local nonprofit Native arts market and cultural celebration, to help Black Hills artists modify their business plans to meet today’s needs for social distance. With its grant, BHCLF will purchase equipment and consulting services to assist artists in redeveloping their marketing plans and building new websites”.
While, the president as well as the chief executive officer of Oweesta Corporation, Chrystel Cornelius:
“Native CDFIs are pivotal in creating platforms of opportunity with their financing efforts. We are honored to celebrate Black Hills Community Loan Fund and Cook Inlet Lending Center with these much deserved awards.”
The president and chief executive of OFN, Lisa Mensah added:
“My deepest congratulations and gratitude to Cook Inlet Lending Center and Black Hills Community Loan Fund for their lending skills and ability to uplift resilient and innovative Native communities”.