Angel Ellis /Reporter
Loan fund working towards independent financial institution
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma —Mvskoke Loan Fund CEO Christopher Coburn has been confirmed to the Board of Directors for the Native CDFI Network. Coburn will serve as the Organizational Development Committee Chair and will help set policy for Native CDFI’s across the country.
Coburn has implemented an aggressive, goal-oriented plan for MLF since he joined the organization July 2017.
The Native CDFI Network’s Board of Directors is comprised of a diverse group of Native CDFI practitioners, representing the Great Plains, Mid-West, Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and Hawaii regions.
All of the board members have a long history of working in Indian Country as well as experience in implementing innovative solutions that increase access to capital in Native communities.
Coburn has 25 years of management experience serving a wide variety of industries, including consumer and commercial banking, higher education, public utilities, and marketing. All of those skills help him push positive growth for MLF.
“Advocacy is a big part of what the network does,” Coburn said. “Another aspect is developing resources.”
He said there is positive growth at MLF.
“We are busy; we are hoping this year we can get our formal nonprofit status from treasury at IRS and then we can grow what we are doing by soliciting our own capital,” Coburn said.
The process for that growth will require some possible changes in Muscogee (Creek) Nation legislation.
According to Coburn, some CDFIs can grow into independent nonprofit financial institutions.
“We could grow into a bank or credit union but we can’t as just a department,” Coburn said. “But to do that, to have our own bank accounts, we have to have formal nonprofit status from treasury at IRS.”
MLF was created from a partnership between the tribe and the U.S. Treasury. Its purpose is to help clients gain skills in financial management, business plans, accounting, marketing and networking skills.
Recently a venture into consumer lending proved to be very successful. Mvskoke Loan fund was able to open lending for a small Christmas Loan.
“We were able to help 34 people, and when we announce it we quickly met capacity,” Coburn said. “Once we can secure more capital we can continue to grow things like that.”
Mvskoke Loan Fund Chairman Earl King said he is pleased with the progress under Coburns leadership.
“He has really done well, Mvskoke Loan Fund was even able to make interest free loans available during the government shut down and the impact made in the community is growing,” King said.
According to King, Coburn’s role with Native CDFI Network will enhance Mvskoke Loan Funds ability to grow and prosper.