Woman- and Native-owned Pine Ridge business expands with a business loan from Lakota Funds to offer filtered drinking water to local businesses and residents. Read the story in the Summer 2013 newsletter.


Our Mission

Lakota Funds' mission is to promote economic sustainability on the Pine Ridge Reservation and geographic service area, through business loans, technical assistance, and wealth building education for families and businesses.

Lakota Funds is a non-profit organization and has received designation as a 501c3 by the Internal Revenue Service.

Our History

In the 1980's a group of visionary community leaders assembled and realized that in order to break the cycle of poverty on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, they needed to focus on the key roadblocks to economic development: access to capital, access to technical assistance, access to business networks, and access to infrastructure. With assistance from Oglala Lakota College and First Nations Development Institute, Lakota Funds was established in 1986 as the first Native American CDFI and began working to break through these roadblocks.

Starting out as a micro lender modeled after the Circle Banking Project in Bangladesh, we began little by little helping entrepreneurs on the Pine Ridge Reservation realize their dreams through $500 loans. At this time there were only two Native American-owned businesses on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Eighty-five percent of our clients never had a checking or savings account; seventy-five percent never had a loan; and ninety-five percent had no business experience.

Read our Best Practices Guide for insight to the Lakota Funds history, products and services, and strategies for success as never seen before.

Lakota Funds Today

Today, Lakota Funds continues to play a vital role in improving life for the Oglala Lakota people by placing capital with new and growing businesses on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Our loan portfolio now exceeds $7 million and our maximum loan size has grown to $300,000. Since 1986, we have helped thousands of artists and aspiring entrepreneurs, created over 1,400 permanent jobs, and helped establish hundreds of businesses.

Download one of our annual reports to find out more about our community impact and loan portfolio performance.
2012 Annual Report
2013 Annual Report
2014 Annual Report
2016 Annual Report

In addition, Lakota Funds continuously strives to improve our products and services to best meet the needs of our target market. In 2012, we commissioned First Nations Oweesta Corporation to conduct an in depth market study, which revealed there is a strong market demand but many barriers that prevent a rapid pace of business start-up and expansion. Download the 2012 Lakota Funds Market Study.

While many of our accomplishments may seem great, Lakota Funds has only begun our journey of transforming the economic landscape on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. There are still only 13 businesses per 1000 reservation residents, compared to 83 businesses per 1000 people in the rest of South Dakota. Unemployment is estimated in the 80% range, and Shannon County maintains one of the highest poverty levels in the nation. With the help of valued funders, investors, and community members we continue to strive towards a thriving economy.