A community loan fund based in Kyle is taking steps to build its internal capacity to serve the needs of growing and larger businesses on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The goal is to increase awareness of business financing solutions on the reservation and ultimately impact the creation or expansion of 30 businesses.
Lakota Funds has assisted in the start-up of hundreds of small businesses on the Pine Ridge Reservation since it was founded 28 years ago.
But Lakota Funds executive director Tawney Brunsch says those businesses are growing, and there are still many larger businesses that continue to face barriers in accessing capital.
“Traditionally we served more like the sole proprietorships,” Brunsch explains. “You know, the quilters and the individual…maybe contractors. The smaller businesses which we are happy to continue to do. We hope to be able to continue to do that. But based on a survey that we did in 2012, we surveyed businesses and found that there are actually businesses out there who need more than a hundred thousand dollars…and are having a hard time accessing that capital. And that’s keeping their businesses from growing.”
At least two of those business are generating sales annually of over three million dollars, says Tawney Brunsch.
A recent financial award from the Citi Foundation will permit Lakota Funds to build its internal capacity to handle larger loan requests by big businesses located on the reservation. Tawney Brunsch says it also provides funding for marketing to those businesses.
“Lakota Funds, I don’t think, is adequately serving those needs,” observes Brunsch. “So, this is a good way for us to make a greater effort to assist those businesses.”
Businesses on the Pine Ridge Reservation that need higher capital lending include those in the construction and building industry, as well as others in grocery and retail.
The Citi Foundation’s award provides Lakota Funds the ability to market in order to attract the kind of capital the community loan fund will need in order to finance larger loans.