The History of Lakota Funds
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
- 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 Community Development Financial Institution (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.
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 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 Reservation. Our loan portfolio now exceeds $2 million and our maximum loan size has grown to $300,000.
Since 1986, we have:
- deployed over 1,000 loans totaling over $10 million
- helped establish or expand nearly 600 businesses
- assisted thousands of artists and aspiring entrepreneurs
- created over 1,600 permanent jobs
While many of our accomplishments may seem great, Lakota Funds has only begun our journey to transform the economic landscape on the Pine Ridge Reservation. As our organization grows, we continually evaluate and improve our products and services to meet the needs of our target market. Lending remains at the core of our program offering, but we take a holistic approach to economic development by also focusing on a wide range of asset building strategies.
Collaboration is an integral part of our approach that maximizes our impact. By leveraging relationships with community partners, we are able to have a broader impact in the communities we serve. More importantly, our clients gain access to additional resources to help them achieve their goals. Following are some of our valued partners.
Lakota Federal Credit Union
Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial
First Peoples Fund
Four Bands Community Fund
Native American Development Corporation Procurement Technical Assistance Center
Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce
South Dakota Indian Business Alliance
South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition
South Dakota State University
Sustainable Homeownership Project (SHOP)
Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation