This month we welcome Shere Wright as our new Director of Tatanka Funds, Rosebud’s emerging Native Community Development Financial Institution. Tatanka Funds provides training as well as technical assistance regarding loans – through our partner organizations – to potential homeowners and startup/existing business owners. We visited a bit with Shere and she had the following information to offer: What is your work experience at REDCO? Shere: I started my REDCO career in July 2013 as the General Manager for Rosebud Office Solutions. At that time the business was named Sicangu Business Products. Before I came on board the company was averaging $3,000 per in sales month which wasn’t nearly enough to sustain it. Our tribal leaders took the initiative to utilize what we call in business “barriers to entry” by passing a resolution directing tribal programs to buy from Sicangu Business Products. I worked with REDCO leadership and tribal officials my first month to gain support on enforcement of the resolution, while building a great internal sales team. The next month our total revenue increased dramatically up to approximately $30,000 and since then we have averaged approximately $65,000 per month. Can you share a bit of your education and employment background with our readers? Shere: I have an Associates of Art Degree in Business Administration from our very own Sinte Gleska University. After I received my degree, I worked with RST Revenue Department for several years assisting with tax reporting and business license application processing. I went to back to school and received my Bachelors of Science in Business Management from Haskell Indian Nations University. After my years at Haskell I moved home and have been working for REDCO since. What types of services does Tatanka Fund offer? Shere: Tatanka Funds is an emerging Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), which means we are not yet CDFI certified to lend large loans. Currently we offer micro-business loans up to $5,000 and down payment assistance loans for homeownership. What do I need to get a homesite and a homebuyer loan? Shere: Right now, homebuyer loans are not available through Tatanka Funds, however they are available through our partners. We do have the ability to assist with a down payment loan. I hope to have homebuyer lending capital in 1 to 2 years. Getting a homesite is a tribal process. However, I am planning to work with tribal programs to make this process of getting a homesite easy. Currently, getting a homesite is a long tedious process that I am hoping Tatanka Funds and tribal programs can work toward turning into a simpler process. Members must identify a site. Once the site is identified they must: Go to BIA get a description and check its availability. Go to Sicangu Land Office. Go to Tribal Historical Preservation Office to see if the land has been surveyed, and get clearance. Get approval from the RST Land and Natural Committee. Go to a Community meeting to get approval to lease the identified homesite. Infrastructure also has to be set up by working with RST Water and Sewer; it’s a long waiting list. Homesites must have the house on the land before the water and sewer are put in. There may be a few more steps but these are the steps that I am aware of; making this process simpler by zoning our land would eliminate a lot of these steps tribal members must take. However, another aspect in this respect, building communities and revitalizing old communities is another idea I have – if everyone gets 2 acres, is that 7 Generation planning? Where will the grandkids of the reservation live? Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? Shere: I believe most of us that live here on the reservation can agree that we need more local jobs, more food choices, more things to do that will keep our money local and help create a thriving local economy. This is possible and you can make a difference by opening a local business. Tatanka Funds will be here to assist with start up money for local businesses. We do have criteria and applicants for loans are considered based on your credit score and your business plan. If your credit is not so good, you can come to our credit coaching classes, budgeting classes and financial literacy classes. If you don’t know how to write a business plan, we will have classes for this as well. Also, we can always point you in right direction to get assistance with your business plan or other credit and loan issues.