The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe’s Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) is moving toward certification by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Successful reservations typically have healthy, vibrant CDFI’s available, and that’s the goal of the group building the LLBO community CDFI.

Named Leech Lake Financial Services, Inc. (LLFS), the CDFI is designed to manage the Band’s Small Business Loan Program from the USDA, and the Credit Builder Loan Program available to employees in and around the reservation. Already formed as a Tribal Corporation, LLFS is seeking classification as a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization to offer financial products and trainings. As part of the U.S. Treasury certification process, LLFS established lending and collection policies specifically tailored to the USDA guidelines and the current lending programs. The certification process requires strict compliance with lending and collection policies. The challenge faced by LLFS is the merging of the loan programs into new lending and collection policies. As a result, some current borrowers may notice changes in lending and collection efforts.

So far, LLFS sponsored trainings like Business 101, and Credit Building on the Rez, serving 130 employees and community members last quarter. CDFI Executive Director Rob Aitken and Business Development Specialist Pamela Spong recently became certified trainers at the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis to provide classes on Finance and Credit in and around the community. Classes will be offered bi-weekly.

Originally from May 2013 issue of DeBahJiMon

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