FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 31, 2018
All About the People: Mvskoke Loan Fund Assisting Citizens with Financial Education, Lending Services
OKMULGEE, Okla. — With Muscogee (Creek) Nation being a sovereign Nation, comes unique opportunities for programs to serve citizens at the highest level through the extensive program efforts to receive grant funding and create partnerships with other organizations.
Created four years ago, the Mvskoke Loan Fund is a non-profit corporation and Community Development Financial Institution certified by the U.S. Treasury CDFI Fund. Currently, Mvskoke Loan Fund offers micro-enterprising lending in loans up to $50, 000 to Muscogee (Creek) citizens and other federally recognized Native Americans residing in Muscogee (Creek) jurisdiction and also provides small business services and financial-related training programs.
Mvskoke Loan Fund Chief Executive Officer Christopher Coburn said the corporation has created a financial training culture for citizens throughout the state, as well as other members of federally recognized tribes within the MCN jurisdiction.
“The training culture is important because it’s giving back to our audience, which helps empower people to better provide for themselves, makes our Nation as a tribe and then our communities, state and our country stronger,” Coburn said. “In my mind, that’s how sovereignty applies to this. The tribe itself is sovereign but if we boil it down to the individual becoming more responsible for what they’re doing then that is a success.”
For the 2018 calendar year, the Mvskoke Loan Fund has helped nearly 900 people, with over 700 being Muscogee citizens, and provided 27 classes free of charge such as Business Boot Camps, GrowOK and other workshops on social media marketing, networking and small business topics.
From the middle of January to the middle of April each year, Mvskoke Loan Fund provides the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. VITA is an Internal Revenue Service program that allows Mvskoke Loan Fund to offer free tax preparation and e-filing of Federal and State tax returns for low to middle income citizens.
In 2018, 205 citizens (2017 Tax year) received assistance through the VITA program and Coburn said they expect to increase that to 600 families in 2019 (2018 Tax year).
This year, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program will also be available throughout the MCN communities to offer free tax assistance to individuals who are 60 years of age or older, which is funded through an IRS grant.
Other programs are available through grants and partnerships with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (USDA) Intermediary Relending Program, the First Nations Oweesta Corporation, Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition (ONAC), i2E Foundation, REI Oklahoma, REI Native American Business Centers, and REI Women’s Business Centers. Mvskoke Loan Fund is a member of the Native CDFI Network and has access to share resources and best practices from other successful CDFIs across the United States.
Mvskoke Loan Fund’s target market is for Muscogee (Creek) Nation citizens and other federally recognized Native Americans living in Muscogee (Creek) jurisdictional boundaries. Depending on the funding source, some of the services are not offered exclusively to Native Americans but non-Native Americans, as well.
Coburn said within the next 24 months he is hopeful that mortgage and consumer lending will be available to citizens. Over the long term, he hopes the Mvskoke Loan Fund will become a depository financial institution that offers a full range of banking services.
Institutions such as Mvskoke Loan Fund are pertinent in the success and growth of the Nation and its citizens because it’s all about the people.
“We’re helping people and it’s all revolving around money or how to generate money,” Coburn said. “But the goal is to empower our citizens to empower themselves and become less dependent on others for their needs.”
For more information and a complete list of services Mvskoke Loan Fund offers, visit www.MvskokeLoanFund.org or call 918-549-2603.