‘The Division helps secure reasonable interest rates and reduces risks for all parties involved.’
—U.S. Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development Division of Capital Investment Eastern Zone Manager Michael Berryhill
Citizen administering program highlights benefits
OKMULGEE, Okla. — Former Muscogee (Creek) Nation employee Michael Berryhill wants people back home to know about a federal loan program he helps administer, which provides business financing for tribes and citizens.
“I was really surprised at the lack of knowledge that tribal leaders had about it,” he said.
He said those looking into a loan will have to go through the usual approval process with a financial institution but said the program’s federal funding improves chances of receiving assistance.
“You can’t come in there with like a credit score of 200 because a bank will not fund you,” Berryhill said. “The bank has to approve you on your own but with the loan guarantee attached to it, it does make the bank more likely to approve an individual for a loan.”
Berryhill is the eastern zone manager for the U.S. Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development Division of Capital Investment and explained the main goal of his program.
‘The loan program helps facilitate loan financing for borrowers that would not be able to do so otherwise,’ he said in a written statement. ‘The Division helps secure reasonable interest rates and reduces risks for all parties involved.’
Berryhill said in the statement that his program does larger loans than the Mvskoke Loan Fund, which is administered by Muscogee (Creek) Nation and that they may fit different needs.
‘That is minimal with loans maxing out at $50 grand. We do loans up to $40 million and the interest rate is negotiated between the banks, the borrower and my office. I don’t want to say one is better than the other – mine is more large scale for tribal members and tribes as a whole.’
A flier for the federal program states that loans are available up to $500,000 for citizens and more is available for tribal organizations.
Through the statement, Berryhill expressed his interest in a potential collaboration between the two programs.
‘I noticed they just started in 2013 and I am sure it will grow- so maybe I can connect with them too and they can be a resource for me if someone wants something larger.’
The flier states that their services can be used through community financial development institutions like MLF.
It states these loans are available for a variety of expenses such as operating capital, equipment, business acquisition and refinancing, construction and lines of credit.
Investopedia.com defines capital as more durable than money as it is used to generate wealth through investment.
According to the flier, the program was established through Indian Financing Act of 1974 provisions to reduce the disparity between business capital available to Indian and non-Indian business.