Dakota Resources’ Capital Investment Fund Supports Native CDFIs on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation

“Every rural community is unique.”

This statement can be found on our website and throughout our marketing, not because it sounds good, but because these values help to shape the work that we do at Dakota Resources.

Through our Community Development Loans program, and, more specifically, through our Capital Investment Fund (CIF), we’re able to support rural communities, economic development organizations, housing authorities, and other Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). Together, CDFIs share a commitment to the mission of community development, a responsibility that Joe Bartmann, President of Dakota Resources, says presents fruitful opportunities.

“By partnering with other CDFIs, we can learn from and with them, and this helps us all to help rural communities better by doing it together,” Bartmann said. “We have a lot of work to do toward that goal, both in Native and non-Native rural communities, and it’s an exciting challenge as we look ahead.”

Dakota Resources has worked with many other CDFIs over 25+ years to connect capital and capacity to empower rural communities, and we’re excited to continue telling these stories by spotlighting two Native CDFIs based in Eagle Butte, South Dakota: Akiptan and Four Bands Community Fund.

Akiptan Connects Capital to Agriculture

Because South Dakota’s number one industry is agriculture, providing support for farmers and ranchers who contribute to this industry is paramount, and that’s the important work that Akiptan makes possible on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.

“Akiptan supports agriculture by supporting the farmers and the ranchers themselves,” said Terri LaBrie, Director of Community Lending and Finance Coach for Dakota Resources. “We want to create equitable opportunities in Native communities by building capacity through developmental services, and our relationship with Akiptan helps finance projects that local farmers and ranchers are passionate about – whether a new home or more livestock.”

In addition to supporting projects that matter most, capital also helps to sustain a farming or ranching operation while giving rural residents access to low-cost, patient capital, said Skya Ducheneaux, Executive Director of Akiptan.

Picture courtesy of Akiptan.

“So often, agriculture is overlooked as a ‘small business,’ even though it was the first small business,” Ducheneaux said. “Agribusiness represents the roots of rural economies, and it’s an underutilized economic driver; that’s why it’s so important to invest in Native agriculture.”

Joe Bartmann, President of Dakota Resources, agrees.

“While rural communities as a whole have access to fewer resources and less support than other communities, rural Native communities have even less access and support,” Bartmann said. “Native communities also have unique political structures that can add layers of complexity to community and economic development. Partnering with Native CDFIs gives us an opportunity to specifically help Native communities in rural places; they’re better equipped than we’ll ever be to help rural Native communities to thrive, as they often serve both local communities as well as individual rural Native people across a broad geography.”

Four Bands Brings Flexible Capital to Rural Native Communities

Like Dakota Resources and Akiptan, Four Bands Community Fund is also a CDFI. Specifically, Four Bands lends to businesses and individuals and supports a variety of needs, from business development and job training to home ownership.

Picture courtesy of Four Bands Community Fund. Donita Fischer, owner of W´oyute in our incubator space in Eagle Butte, SD

Financial capital is impactful for rural Native communities because traditional lending is difficult to obtain due to the complexities of taking collateral on Native lands, says LaBrie. To address those complexities, the specifics, like loan terms and collateral, must be flexible in order to meet the needs of the organization and its borrowers, which makes Dakota Resources an ideal partner, said Four Bands’ Executive Director, Lakota Vogel.

“Dakota Resources’ funding has been pivotal in Four Bands’ asset growth of 30 percent,” Vogel said. “We had a record year of deployment and could not have done it without Dakota Resources as a partner.”

The vision of Four Bands Community Fund is one of thriving Native American communities built on the cornerstones of cultural values, sustainable systems, equitable platforms, and economic opportunities, Vogel said.

Picture courtesy of Four Bands Community Fund. Becky Booth, owner of Dakota Image in Timber Lake, SD.

The organization has been committed since 2000 to financially empowering entrepreneurs, families, and communities with information, tools, and coaching necessary to build assets, achieve financial sustainability, establish businesses, and create jobs.

“In particular, since 2000, we’ve deployed $9.7 million in loans so that 183 families could improve or purchase a home,” Vogel said. “We’ve also supported hundreds of individuals in various stages of business development through the deployment of 591 loans totaling $22.9 million.”

Every rural community is certainly unique – there’s no doubt about that.

Yet there’s another, equally important dimension to this statement that also shapes our work at Dakota Resources and is a fitting statement as we share the work of our partners at Akiptan and Four Bands: “We believe to our core that every rural community deserves the opportunity to thrive, right now.”

Published On: April 9, 2024Categories: News & Notes

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