Oweesta Receives $5 Million Grant from Wells Fargo to Launch the Native American COVID-19 Disaster Recovery Fund


Longmont, CO – October 7, 2020 – Oweesta Corporation (Oweesta) announced a $5 million grant from the Wells Open Business Fund, which will enable the Native Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) intermediary to launch the Native American COVID-19 Disaster Recovery Fund. This $15 million fund is designed to provide Native CDFIs the long-term, low-cost capital necessary that they need to mobilize COVID-19 economic response and recovery efforts in their tribal communities.

Oweesta will be working diligently over the next three months to leverage an additional $10 million of investment for the fund. Through social investment and the generous contributions of partners, Oweesta is quickly closing this fundraising gap. The Native American COVID-19 Disaster Recovery Fund will provide Native CDFIs awards of up to $1,500,000, which will be structured as a combination of 10% grant and 90% low-cost loan. These loans will carry a 15-year term with interest-only payments the first five years. The targeted interest rate for Native CDFIs who take a loan from this fund will be no higher than 1.7%.

Awards from the fund can support any Native CDFI line of business, including commercial, small business, and housing lending programs. Awards must be used to support new lending activity and not the repayment of existing debt. Awardees will have one year to draw down on the funds from date of their award with Oweesta.

To participate in the fund, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a certified Native CDFI;
  • Have been lending for approximately three years;
  • Have at least 2 years of audited financials; and
  • Meet additional underwriting requirements.

Applications will be evaluated on the financial strength of the Native CDFI, the Native CDFI’s ability to take on additional debt (as indicated by net asset and other leverage ratios) and the Native CDFI’s ability to deploy the requested capital amount within eighteen months (as indicated by current pipeline, past deployment, and loan volume growth).

“We are grateful to Wells Fargo for providing the seed capital for this critical fund, which will ultimately provide much needed capital for Native small businesses and families,” said Chrystel Cornelius, president and CEO of Oweesta. “Oweesta looks forward to working in partnership with our Native CDFIs to deploy this capital as quickly as possible in support of Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native communities struggling in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.”

In order to mobilize these funds for deployment quickly, Oweesta is accepting applications from Native CDFIs now. To apply, please complete an application by November 15,2020. To apply, login to the Oweesta Portal (https://www.vistashare.com/p/oweesta/Oweesta-Portal/login.html) with your Organization’s login credentials, select the “COVID-19 Disaster Recovery Fund” tab, then complete the application. If your Organization is a Native CDFI and you are having trouble logging in, please contact Isaiah@oweesta.org and include your name, your Organization Name, and that you are interested in completing the Application.

“The needs across tribal communities are profound right now and our hope is that this new relief fund will be a collective effort to re-energize small businesses and families,” said Jenny Flores, head of small business growth philanthropy for Wells Fargo. “We’ve collaborated with Oweesta and its network for many years and are always impressed by the skill, dedication and speed with which they work to preserve small businesses, jobs and housing.”

For questions about making either an investment in the fund or about preparing an application, please contact Chief Operating Officer, Krystal Langholz at Krystal@oweesta.org


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