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Native CDFI Director At Clinton Global Initiative

Courtesy Clinton Foundation

The executive director of a Native American Community Development Financial Institution was recently invited to attend a gathering of the Clinton Global Initiative. SDPB spoke with Tanya Fiddler to ask what it was like to offer her perspective on economic development in Indian Country at a forum that reaches leaders from around the world.
Four Bands Community Fund executive director Tanya Fiddler was one of three experts in rural economies who met with Bill Clinton at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in Denver, Colorado.

“You said that one of the main roadblocks to attracting outside investment in Indian Country is the lack of knowledge,” Bill Clinton observes. “People just don’t know the opportunities out there. So…what do you want these people to know about the key investment opportunities you’re trying to access? And how did your loan fund help to mitigate some of the risks that you have to be prepared for if you go into a new area that’s a long way from other places?”

Credit Courtesy Four Bands Community Fund
Four Bands Community Fund executive director Tanya Fiddler.

Tanya Fiddler spent portions of the next 40 minutes answering former President Bill Clinton’s questions about investment opportunities on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. Besides explaining that the Four Bands Community Fund has provided $10 million in loans on the reservation since 2008, Fiddler also noted that a key component has been investing in micro-loans for very small businesses.

“So…it was realizing first investing in the creation of a private sector on the reservations,” Fiddler explains. “Because in rural and remote…often we don’t have banks. So…the education piece for the community out here…and the crowd is the matter of fact that over half of reservation rural communities don’t even have banking systems…so…we all have to check the assumptions.”

Possible investors in Indian Country also need to realize that in spite of the media blitz of negative stories about reservations, Four Bands and other Native Community Development Financial Institutions are experiencing a demand for entrepreneurship tools that “are off the charts”, says Fiddler.

Tanya Fiddler adds that the strength of economic development in Indian Country comes from the ground up and is fueled by the strong work, initiative and cultural traditions of Native Americans.

It’s for this reason, says Fiddler, that Native CDFI’s are the best place to invest on a reservation. 

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