WEII Opens Small Business Credit Initiative Loan and Collateral Support Financing Program

More federal investment in Native Communities is catalyzing a new small business finance program, now available through the White Earth Investment Initiative (WEII).

Audra Tonihka, Vice President of Lending

The State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) loan and collateral support financing will be targeted to Native American-owned or controlled businesses located within the White Earth Reservation and the State of Minnesota.

“We look forward to partnering with the White Earth leadership and community to improve access to financing for Native American-owned businesses,” WEII CEO Julia Nelmark said. “Our staff will continue to work hard to support the delivery of this program.”

Audra Tonihka is the WEII Vice President of Lending and serves as lead contact for the program.

The nearly $4 million of funding to the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe – White Earth Band was announced at the 2023 White House Tribal Nations summit and is funded under the American Rescue Plan. According to a White House press release, it is “part of the largest and most expansive one-time investment for Tribal governments for small business financing in the history of the nation.”

WEII is responsible for raising matching funds for the program; approximately one-third of the match is already committed.

The White Earth Investment Initiative (WEII) will fulfill the lending role in the SSBCI program on behalf of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, which retains administrative oversight. WEII is a nonprofit and a designated Community Development Financial Institution by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. It operates a business lending program headquartered on the White Earth Reservation.

People interested in an SSBCI business loan are encouraged to go to our Business Loans webpage to find a link to a detailed flyer and for more information on business loans.