Rooted in Native culture and history, Native community development financial institutions (CDFIs) provide access to fair, affordable funding in Indian Country, where mainstream finance does not traditionally reach. Last night, three Native CDFIs — Akiptan, Haa Yakaawu, and Nimiipuu Fund — were honored by Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), Oweesta Corporation, and Wells Fargo with the 2022 Native CDFI Awards.
Native CDFIs open avenues for economic opportunity through innovative financial products, advanced capacity building efforts, and deep relationships with their respective tribal communities,” said Chrystel Cornelius, president and CEO of Oweesta Corporation. “It is an honor to recognize these native CDFIs who are reaching deep into their communities to finance change.”
Launched in 2019, the national Native CDFI Awards recognize Native CDFIs for creating economic opportunity and promoting wealth building within their tribal communities.
“Native-led CDFIs make Indian Country stronger,” said Dawson Her Many Horses, senior vice president and head of Native American Banking at Wells Fargo. “We are proud to recognize Akiptan, Haa Yakaawu, and Nimiipuu Fund for their tireless efforts to reduce inequities by deploying financial products that support housing, small business, food production, and more.”
Nimiipuu Fund was recognized with a Seed Award, given to an emerging Native CDFI with a strategy showing exciting potential for success and impact. Nimiipuu Fund promotes economic growth, while embracing the cultural values of the Nez Perce Reservation and surrounding communities. With the $75,000 grant, the CDFI will launch a home rehabilitation lending product to meet the need for quality affordable housing.
“This award will allow us to expand our current suite of loan products to address what our community needs,” said Jonelle Yearout, executive director of Nimiipuu Fund. “Our CDFI is working to improve the housing stock and quality of life on the reservation.”
“Native CDFIs have deep knowledge of their communities. With determination and steadfast commitment, they seek creative and innovative ways to meet the capital needs of their people,” said Beth Lipson, interim president and CEO of OFN. “This year’s award recipients are leading the way and creating real change for Indian Country, and I offer them my most sincere congratulations.”
Opportunity Finance Network is a leading national network of more than 370 community development financial institutions, specialized lenders that provide responsible financial products and services in low-income rural, urban, and Native communities nationwide. As a trusted intermediary between CDFIs and the public and private sectors, OFN works with its partners – banks, philanthropies, corporations, government agencies and others – to create economic opportunity for all by strengthening and investing in CDFIs.