The Wind River Development Fund (WRDF), based in Fort Washakie, WY, is a Native Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that lends money to small businesses, farms, ranches, and home improvements projects on the Wind River Indian Reservation. In 2022, WRDF joined with eight Native CDFIs to form the Mountain Plains Regional Native CDFI Coalition. The Coalition, covering North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, is quickly becoming a national model focused on fortifying the regional indigenous finance industry.
One of 21 awardees of the Economic Development Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge, the Coalition was awarded a five-year, $45 million grant – the single largest investment into the Native CDFI industry since its founding in 1985. With this seed capital, the Native-led Coalition is launching a holistic, five-year strategy to reimagine financial systems that center on indigenous culture and values.
Erika Yarber, Director of Development at Wind River Development Fund, stated, “Our goal is to contribute to a vibrant economy on the reservation. Every day, we work with people to achieve their dreams of starting or expanding small businesses or growing their ranching and farming operations. As a member of the Coalition, we will now have access to even more capital that we can invest on the reservation.”
The Wind River Development Fund provides local entrepreneurs and businesses with access to capital, technical assistance, support, training, and the professional capacity to retain, expand and develop Native-owned and Native-led businesses.