Marlen Featherman expanded his landscaping business, Wiyaka Wicasa, through Lakota Funds' matched savings program and a small loan. Read more on Marlen.
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.
Download our 2012 Annual Report to find out more about our community impact and loan portfolio performance.
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.