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Celebrating our History, and Announcing our Vision for the Future

In 2019, Oweesta Corporation (Oweesta) celebrated our 20th anniversary as an organization. It was a time of deep reflection as we completed new strategic planning activities and discerned how we could best serve as an intermediary and bridge to capital in the upcoming decade. In these conversations, it was clear that Oweesta is both stronger than we have ever been and that we must continue to strive, grow, and push ourselves on behalf of the communities we serve.

Through these discussions with our Board of Directors and parent company, First Nations Development Institute, all concurred that the best way to support Oweesta’s growth was to legally separate and for Oweesta to no longer be a subsidiary of First Nations Development Institute.

Our relationship will remain a close, and Oweesta will be forever grateful for the legacy First Nations Development Institute created by their envisioning of Native Nations having equitable access to capital and investment as most of America enjoys. Both our organizations remain deeply committed to the service of Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities. We also share the same set of guiding values, believing that when armed with the appropriate resources, Native people hold the capacity and ingenuity to ensure the sustainable, economic, spiritual and cultural well-being of their communities. It with deep gratitude to ours elders and former board members who walked before us and created and built both of these amazing Native-led non-profit organizations that we share this news.

As we look to the future, it seems like there is no better time for Oweesta to take these independent steps. In this time of great reckoning and conversation in our nation, Oweesta remains steadfast in our commitment to capitalizing and supporting the growing Native Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) movement. As we have seen day after day these last twenty years, Native CDFIs remain one the strongest and most impactful tools for aligning justice and capital for indigenous communities across the country. Oweesta therefore remains as excited about working with these amazing partners as we were on the day that our organization was created.

To learn more about the Oweesta of the future, we are pleased to share our 2021-2023 strategic plan. For all that Oweesta has accomplished, and for what we will in the future, we wish to express our gratitude to First Nations Development Institute, our former Board of Directors, as well as our many grassroots partners. Without your commitment, passion, and strength, we would not have come so far.

2021 VITA Marketing Toolkit

Oweesta and NDN Collective Award $1.25 Million in Grants to Native CDFIs

Oweesta Corporation (Oweesta) and NDN Collective continue to stand in solidarity with Indigenous communities who remain uniquely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Together as an Indigenous-led partnership, we are awarding a combined $1,250,000 in grants to 25 Native CDFIs through our COVID-19 Grant Program. These Native CDFIs will further their roles as the economic engines for financial sovereignty in Indian country through the COVID-19 Grant Program.

These organizations have been integral in the sustaining of Indigenous businesses across the United States, from Alaska to Hawaii to Maine. When stay-at-home orders and closures were first issued, Native CDFIs quickly adapted to the emerging needs in their communities; they provided emergency relief capital, supported local businesses adapt to unforeseen supply chain issues, and offered refinancing terms for new and outstanding loans. Knowing that sustaining is not enough, they are also pivoting their business operations and policies to help their communities flourish for a new and better normal.

NACDC Financial Services based in Montana is one such CDFI who has creatively worked with their 600+ clients to ensure no business has had to close. Tourism is a main source of income for several businesses on the Blackfeet Reservation, one of the seven reservations NACDCFS services. Following the closure of the East Glacier Park, many businesses, also clients of NACDCFS, experienced significant financial loss. NACDCFS worked with their clients individually to determine repayment plans and terms and connected them with additional capital resources. They will soon move their technical assistance and trainings virtually in order to help small businesses, agriculture, and homeownership clients succeed.

Hopi Credit in Arizona, similarly, saw many self-employed Tribal members, like artists and food vendors, financially suffer from the cancellation of the Santa Fe Indian market, powwows, and other events, and realized the products and services they traditionally offered weren’t enough for the community. They offered a small business emergency loan and worked with new and existing clients to defer loans payments. Hopi Credit will use the funds to hire more staff to begin realizing their long-term vision of developing much-needed economic infrastructure on the reservation in an effort to keep money circulating within the community.

Overall, the grantees will be essential to the financial recovery of local economies. Oweesta and NDN Collective’s joint commitment to long-term community resilience and sustainability will be furthered by the work and dedication of Native CDFIs.

Use this interactive map to learn more about these grantees.

Here is a complete list of the 25 grantees.

Akiptan, IncAffiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Economic Development Corporation
Black Hills Community Loan FundChi Ishobak, Inc
Cook Inlet Lending CenterCouncil for Native Hawaiian Advancement
First American Capital Corporation (FACC)First Nations Community Financial (FNCF)
Four Bands Community FundFour Directions Development Corporation
Homestead Community Development CorporationHopi Credit Association
Lakota FundsMni Sota Fund
NACDC Financial Services, IncNative American Bank
Native American Development CorporationNimiipuu Community Development Fund
Northwest Native Development FundNixyáawii Community Financial Services
Seneca Nation of Indians Economic Development CompanySisseton Wahpeton Federal Credit Union
Spruce Root, IncWind River Development Fund
Wisconsin Native Loan Fund

New Lending Opportunities Available Now!

Working Capital and Line of Credit Loans

Oweesta is pleased to announce the launch of two new loan products immediately available to our Native CDFI industry.  Oweesta is currently accepting inquires for our new Line of Credit and Working Capital/Operating Loan. For Native CDFIs needing flexible capital sources, Oweesta is grateful to be able to offer these new loan products to our Native CDFI partners. Oweesta knows it is a challenging time for our Native CDFIs and hope the growing diversity of our capital options can provide opportunities for innovation during the difficult road ahead.

The origination fees on these loan products will be waived until August 1st in support of our communities affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Working Capital/Operating Loan

The Working Capital/Operating Loan is designed to help Native CDFIs who may be experiencing a difficult time during the Covid19 pandemic or waiting to receive grant revenue they have been awarded, but not received. With this short term temporary loan Native CDFIs can ensure their operating capital will be there when they need it. While the interest rate on this loan will—in the long-term—vary based on market conditions, it is currently between 3.0-4.0% with an origination fee of 2%.

Line of Credit

Our Line of Credit is a renewable line of credit for any of your general lending capital needs. This is a fantastic opportunity for Native CDFIs to launch an emergency loan product.  On a one-year term, the current interest rate is 3.0-4.0% with an origination fee of 1%. This loan will have either quarterly or monthly interest-only payments with the principal due at maturity.

If you are interested in either of our new loan products, please follow the link below to access the Oweesta portal for the loan application.  If you do not yet have access to the portal, please contact Isaiah Cornelius at Isaiah@oweesta.org to set up access.

https://www.vistashare.com/p/first_nations_oweesta/Oweesta-Portal/login.html

For more information on these loans and how to apply, please contact Florence Ludka at florence@oweesta.org

WELLS FARGO FOUNDATION PROVIDES $1.8 MILLION MULTI-YEAR GRANT TO SUPPORT NATIVE CDFIS

LONGMONT, CO – First Nations Oweesta Corporation (Oweesta) is excited to announce Wells Fargo Foundation (Wells Fargo) has awarded the organization a grant of $1.8 million to support the Equity and Opportunity for Start-up, Emerging, and Growing Native CDFIs program.

This new program, supported by Wells Fargo, will allow Oweesta to provide equity grants to start-up, emerging, and growing Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in the lower 48 states and the state of Alaska seeking loan capital from Oweesta in addition to in-depth technical assistance to support these groups in the lending process.

Native CDFIs are vital nonprofit organizations in their communities. They operate as crucial financial institutions with a mission of providing responsible, affordable lending opportunities for ‘under-banked’ individuals, especially those who are low-income and low-wealth. CDFIs serve individuals in building or repairing credit, supporting entrepreneurship, helping build assets like homeownership, and more.

Native CDFIs are often created in locations with the fewest Tribal and/or philanthropic resources, meaning for many start-up, emerging, and growing Native CDFIs, it can be difficult to access the initial seed capital for lending. This program will help Native CDFIs build capacity to attain certification with the CDFI Fund, access further capital sources, and serve their communities’ capital needs.

Oweesta anticipates serving five to seven Native CDFIs per year through this program, providing an average grant of $65,000. These grants will be provided as match to loans given by Oweesta to Native CDFIs. Native CDFIs will be selected through an open application process. To qualify for this matching grant, a Native CDFI would need to meet the following requirements:

• Be located in and serve Alaska or the Continental U.S.
• Have less than $5MM in organizational total assets
• Have less than $500,000 in non-federal debt
• Must meet all Oweesta underwriting requirements

Preference will be given to organizations that have been lending for less than five years. These Native CDFIs will be selected to participate in the program in accordance with when they are “loan ready” to receive a loan from Oweesta.

To apply for a loan and grant from Oweesta through this program, please email Isaiah Cornelius at Isaiah@oweesta.org to be invited to the application portal and for additional instructions. Please complete application by November 30, 2019. New applications will be considered on an annual basis over the next three-years.

Chrystel Cornelius, Executive Director of Oweesta, states, “This grant funding will support the incubation and growth of Native CDFIs by directly addressing capital, equity, and capacity building challenges. We are incredibly grateful for this funding as it will bolster our Native CDFIs capacity to meet target market lending demands and offer an opportunity of an equity match to our lending capital provisions. This inherently strengthens our Native CDFIs capacity to grow and strength their financial position in serving their respective tribal communities.”

“Native Community Development Financial Institutions provide affordable lending to help grow local businesses, spark job growth and help low-income and underserved people and communities succeed financially and thrive,” said Cora Gaane, Wells Fargo tribal advocate. “Wells Fargo is pleased to partner with First Nations Oweesta in its efforts to strengthen Native CDFIs and drive economic development throughout Indian Country.”
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About Oweesta
First Nations Oweesta Corporation’s mission is to provide opportunities for Native people to develop financial assets and create wealth by assisting in the establishment of strong, permanent institutions and programs contributing to economic independence and strengthening sovereignty for all Native communities. Oweesta is the only existing Native CDFI (community development financial institution) intermediary offering financial products and development services exclusively to Native CDFIs and Native communities. Specifically, Oweesta provides training, technical assistance, investments, research, and policy advocacy to help Native communities develop an integrated range of asset-building products and services, including financial education and financial products. Native CDFIs provide Native communities the tools and capital support required for real and sustainable job creation, small business development, commercial real estate development, and affordable housing/home ownership, while also offering basic banking services and financial literacy training to “underbanked” Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities who have been historically targeted by predatory lending practices.
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Contact:
Krystal Langholz, Chief Operating Officer, First Nations Oweesta Corporation
krystal@oweesta.org or 303.774.8838

Note: All other grant seekers can apply through www.wellsfargo.com/donations or through the Diverse Community Capital program https://www.wellsfargo.com/com/financing/real-estate/community-lending-investment/cdfi. Wells Fargo’s current grant application process is closed for 2019.

LARGE INVESTMENT FROM BETTER WAY FOUNDATION SUPPORTS FIRST NATIONS OWEESTA CORPORATION’S LOAN CAPITAL

For Immediate Release: July 31, 2019

LONGMONT, CO – First Nations Oweesta Corporation (Oweesta) and Better Way Foundation are pleased to announce a funding commitment focused on supporting and increasing Native CDFIs’ access to capital. Better Way Foundation has dedicated $500,000 as a program-related investment (PRI) that will support lending to Native CDFIs across the nation. Eligible loan recipients are Native CDFIs located in Alaska, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Washington, or Wisconsin.

Native community development financial institutions (CDFIs) are vital nonprofit organizations in their communities They operate as crucial financial institutions with a mission of providing responsible, affordable lending opportunities for underserved and ‘unbankable’ individuals, especially those who are low-income and low-wealth. CDFIs serve individuals in building or repairing credit, supporting entrepreneurship, helping build assets like homeownership, and more.

This $500,000 program-related investment (PRI) will increase Oweesta’s portfolio and be used for lending to Native CDFIs, supporting the work and mission of Oweesta through capitalization, allowing the organization to offer low-cost capital to the Native CDFIs it serves. “We are thrilled to make our first-ever program-related investment to Oweesta, because when we engage with communities across Indian Country, we see resilience, opportunity, creativity, and strength,” said Andreas Hipple, Executive Director of Better Way Foundation.

Chrystel Cornelius, Executive Director of Oweesta, is grateful for the support from Better Way Foundation through this PRI, stating “These funds will increase Oweesta’s financial capacity to serve Native CDFIs by allowing us to also directly address capital challenges, bringing more capital into Native communities. It will also increase our impact, which means more jobs, more homes, and more private sector development as a sustainable institution engaged in this work.”

First Nations Oweesta Corporation was created 20 years ago to address the lack of capital and financial infrastructure holding back economic development in Native communities recognized by its parent organization, First Nations Development Institute. First Nations Oweesta Corporation’s mission is to provide opportunities for Native people to develop financial assets and create wealth by assisting in the establishment of strong, permanent institutions and programs that contribute to economic independence and strengthened sovereignty for all Native communities. For more information, visit www.oweesta.org

Started in 1988 by Gerald (Gerry) A. and Henrietta (Hanky) Rauenhorst, founders of the Opus Group, Better Way Foundation is focused on building a future where child well-being contributes to strong families and communities. Better Way Foundation invests in systemic, holistic, and evidence-based approaches that support the positive development of all children, and made a 10-year, $10 million pledge to Indigenous early childhood development in 2018. Better Way Foundation supports both international and domestic partners, and has connected with exceptional community-based leaders investing in the lives of children and strengthening their communities. More information is available at www.betterwayfoundation.org.

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Contact:

Stephanie Cote Programs Officer, First Nations Oweesta Corporation
stephanie@oweesta.org or 303.774.8838

CONTACT US

Oweesta Corporation
2432 Main Street, 1st Floor
Longmont, CO 80501
303.774.8838
info@oweesta.org

Oweesta is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

ABOUT OWEESTA

Oweesta is the only existing Native CDFI intermediary offering financial products and development services exclusively to Native CDFIs and Native communities. Specifically, Oweesta provides training, technical assistance, investments, research, and policy advocacy to help Native communities develop an integrated range of asset-building products and services, including financial education and financial products.

Asset-building tools stimulate reservation economies by providing tribal members the opportunity to acquire financial management skills and build and accumulate assets through small business creation, homeownership, education, and much more.

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