Four Bands Invests in South Dakota’s Native-Owned Businesses
May 2, 2016
Four Bands is celebrating a milestone as we reach a total of $1.5 million in loans deployed to support over 60 Native American-owned small business start-ups and expansions throughout the state. We expanded our target market two years ago to serve all tribal members residing in South Dakota. Previously, we only served the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.
“Since we have increased the service area of our lending program, we have seen a strong demand from Native entrepreneurs. We have also realized that there are a lot of tribal members that don’t have access to traditional lenders,” says Kristen Stambach, our Director of Lending.
Kristen says most reservations are in isolated locations without local banks nearby. She explains, “For someone with limited experience in dealing with mainstream financial institutions, a business loan application can be intimidating.”
For Michelle Antone (Cheyenne River Sioux), it was the “easy-to-do-business-with” factor that drew her to Four Bands when she was seeking start-up capital for her business, Edible Arrangements, in Rapid City. “They definitely made the whole application process easier, walked me through it, and helped me prepare the financial plans,” she says.
Edible Arrangements offers a variety of unique fresh fruit gift ideas that are hand crafted in the store. As a result of opening and thriving, the business has created approximately 10 jobs for local residents. Kristen points out, “In addition to job creation, local businesses also generate revenue in the way of sales tax, which furthers economic growth.”
Michelle just celebrated Edible Arrangement’s one year anniversary, and feels that having Four Bands as a lender was one of her best decisions. Like many other business owners, she has encountered challenges along the way. However, she is glad that securing capital wasn’t one of them. She says, “Four Bands was really a life saver. They set me above what I needed to be as far as being financially stable.”
As a nonprofit organization, Four Bands is different from traditional banks. Although certified by the U.S. Department of Treasury, we are not federally regulated. “Our program design is mission-oriented and focused on increasing access to capital for low-income people. In general we have more flexible and patient capital, which means we can meet our clients at their level,” says Kristen
Most businesses that we fund are sole proprietorships, and range anywhere from hair salons and eateries to construction companies and vending machine rentals. “We are really open to innovative business ideas – things that aren’t necessarily typical,” says Kristen. She adds, “Small businesses are the backbone to our economy. We believe in the entrepreneurs we serve, and are glad that our lending program plays a part in supporting our growing communities.”