In 2012, Haa Aaní, LLC established a Community Development Fund Institution (CDFI), which is a nonprofit Native community development financial institution. Haa Aaní Community Development Fund, Inc. was created to provide access to financial resources and technical assistance for entrepreneurs who may not otherwise qualify for or have access to traditional funding from lending institutions.
Haa Aaní CDFI was formed to:
• Increase the tools and resources needed to improve the economy around Southeast Alaska
• Better accomplish our mission of collaboration, innovation and direct resource investment in the region
Originally seeded with $500 thousand from Haa Aaní, LLC in 2012, the CDFI has now grown to nearly $2.4 million. This is a significant milestone for the CDFI and the region as loan capital capacity will now increase for community entrepreneurs seeking non-traditional funding and technical services. Key funding partners include the Rasmuson Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, the Alaska Conservation Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, each sharing Haa Aaní's mission to build capacity and sustainability in the region. These partnerships have allowed the CDFI to fund several small rural development loans that fit Haa Aaní’s mission. At the end of 2014, the CDFI saw an increase in the number of loan applications. The CDFI continues to expand its fund sourcing, loan deployment and marketing efforts to increase access to these resources.
Why form a nonprofit?
In Haa Aaní’s early years, the company found a need to offer loans to farmers in its mariculture program. In February 2013, HACDF received its 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS, enabling us to seek previously unavailable funding sources as a nonprofit entity. The intent is to grow the capacity of the CDFI so that it can become an economic force within the region and grow the suite of services we are able to provide our clients, particularly in rural communities.
Many entrepreneurs are receiving help from the CDFI. To date, we have awarded five loans totaling more than $100,000 to Sealaska shareholder entrepreneurs and business owners throughout Southeast Alaska. But instead of restricting the pool to only shareholders, anyone in Southeast can apply. Especially in our villages, there is a great need to rise up the entire community, Native and non-Native alike. Everyone benefits when new businesses can get off the ground and contribute to the local economy.