EAGLE BUTTE, SOUTH DAKOTA – Four Bands Community Fund, a non-profit community loan fund based on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, has expanded its target market to now offer a variety of business and consumer loans paired with educational services to all enrolled members of a federally recognized tribe who reside in the state of South Dakota. Prior to the expansion, Four Bands’ service area was limited within the boundaries of the reservation.
“Our hope is that by expanding our target market we will eliminate some of the barriers that Native Americans in South Dakota face when accessing capital and credit,” says Tanya Fiddler, Executive Director of Four Bands Community Fund. “Although there are many financial institutions throughout the state, our lending model is more flexible and patient. We can accept a client who wouldn’t normally qualify for a loan from a mainstream financial institution and help them to become loan ready.”
Through a partnership with the South Dakota Indian Business Alliance and funding from the Citi Foundation, Four Bands piloted its expansion model this past summer. During this phase, Four Bands provided Alexia Zeigler (Cheyenne River Sioux) with financing to start up Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffee & Smoothies in Rapid City. Prior to coming into contact with Four Bands, Zeigler was struggling to obtain a loan from traditional banks. Her mobile coffee and smoothie kiosk has been largely successful, and she is now looking into establishing a permanent storefront.
While approximately half of the Native Americans in Rapid City live below the poverty level, Four Bands’ lending program has the potential to help individuals create their own jobs and generate new income streams. Zeigler says of her business venture, “I want to show others that you can be off the reservation and still be successful. They might shoot you down ten times at the bank, but believe in what you are doing. Know what you are going after and know your market.”
To demonstrate the impact that it has had on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, Four Bands recently developed a short educational video that can be viewed on the homepage of their website at www.fourbands.org. “This video showcases the exceptional creativity of Native entrepreneurs here on the reservation. We anticipate similar results in the urban areas of the state,” says Fiddler.