Ep 44 – Capital Reboot: Rethinking Funding Models



Vanessa is an inclusive solutions-driven problem solver committed to liberating all peoples and delivering impactful mechanisms for social, environmental and economic change. She launched Roanhorse Consulting (RCLLC) in 2016, an Indigenous-led think tank. RCLLC co-designs wealth and power building efforts that directly invest in our leaders, support meaningful data collection informed by indigenous research approaches, and helps build thoughtful community-led projects that enforce values that put people at the center.

Vanessa got her management chops working for 7 years at a Chicago-based nonprofit, the Delta Institute, focused throughout the Great Lakes region to build a resilient environment and economy through creative, sustainable, market-driven solutions. Vanessa oversaw many of Delta’s on-the-ground energy efficiency, green infrastructure, community engagement programs, and workforce
development training.

Vanessa is a 2021 Paypal Maggie Lena Walker’s Emerging Leader Awardee and a 2020 Conscious Company Media’s World Changing Woman in Sustainable Business Awardee. She is a 2021 Purpose Fund Building fellow and a 2020 Boston Impact Initiative Fund-Building fellow. She is a founding member of the Zebras Unite Co-op, and an advisor to Angels of Impact Fund.

She sits on the boards of Groundworks NM, Delta Institute, Zebras Unite and is an advisor to Decolonizing Wealth, Angels of Impact Fund, GenderSmart’s JEDI Working Group, and Social Venture Circle’s Restorative Investing Taskforce. She is one of 8 co-founders of Native Women Lead, an organization dedicated to growing Native women into positions of leadership and business. Vanessa is Diné (Navajo) citizen and resides on Tiwa Territory (Albuquerque, NM).



What do you do if your very identity effectively shuts the door on many types of capital as an entrepreneur?

How do you get capital for your venture if even the nearest ATM is an hour away?

And what can one determined entrepreneur accomplish when all other options simply don’t exist for her, or even her entire community?

In this episode, Vanessa Roanhorse, capital innovator, and founder of Roanhorse Consulting, shares eye-opening challenges that Native American women entrepreneurs face in getting capital, the invisible walls that keep Native American women from getting traditional credit financing, her own story of driving breakthrough capital innovations, and much more.

Episode Highlights

  1. Why the traditional financial system doesn’t work for women entrepreneurs
  2. The hidden problems with the “5C’s” framework of assessing credit risk
  3. The unique issues Native American women entrepreneurs face in raising capital, and why it matters
  4. Why “lending deserts” exist despite the prevalence of small business lending programs from traditional banking institutions
  5. How to develop a realistic risk assessment framework that’s equitable to all entrepreneurs
  6. The “5R” risk assessment framework and why it works
  7. An inspiring case study of grassroots capital innovation
  8. How mainstream finance can participate fruitfully in capital innovation for disadvantaged entrepreneurs
  9. Why capital and ecosystem have to align to work
  10. A working model to scale capital access and innovation for underfunded women entrepreneurs

Links and Resources:

Roanhorse Consulting: The indigenous-led think-tank that Vanessa founded and leads

Native Women Lead: The nonprofit organization Vanessa cofounded, dedicated to growing Native women into positions of leadership and business

Interview Transcript

Shubha Chakravarthy: Hi Vanessa, welcome to Invisible Ink! I’m so excited to have you here.

Vanessa Roanhorse: Thank you for the invitation. I’m happy to be here!

Shubha Chakravarthy: You had a pretty fascinating journey leading up to your work with indigenous women entrepreneurs. What is the spark that got you started on this journey?

Vanessa Roanhorse: Well, I think it was the struggle of having to start my own company. Starting Roanhorse Consulting wasn’t an easy feat. Also, I actually didn’t realize I was starting something that was going to be my job going forward. It was a moment in which I needed some startup capital.

When we started to get going, it was really just myself and the first time I needed to bring on a staff member, I realized how hard it was. I went and tried to get capital from my bank and other places, and I was unable to.

My company, the work I did, just didn’t fit the profile and it was not the first time I’d been denied at a bank, not the first time I needed money, but it was the first time I came prepared.

I came ready to present the success of my company thinking that I had fit all the five Cs of credit and realized that even though I thought I had met the minimum requirements and had demonstrated a successful company, I was still considered high risk.

That was the first impetus in which I was like, “Something has to be different. Something has to change.”

Shubha Chakravarthy: That is a key theme that you touched on there. What was it that characterized you and your business that is common with other indigenous entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs that made this so challenging?

Vanessa Roanhorse: Well, I think one, the size of the company wasn’t big enough to care about. I think too, as an indigenous person, the types of questions they wanted around collateral, I didn’t have yet, and I didn’t have any assets to put up.

I was not in a position to be able to leverage any of my family’s assets because they live on the reservation. If you live on the reservation, that’s trust land. We are actually unable to get equity off of what we have back home.

The only place I could turn to was putting a vehicle up, which I didn’t have at the time either. So, there wasn’t a lot for me to be able to showcase that I could pay this back regardless of the fact that I had contracts signed in hand that covered me not only for the full year but would allow me to hire two people.

So, I think things like being too small to care about and looking for capital that doesn’t fit the size that banks want to lend because they are not going to make enough money off of it along with not having the traditional five Cs background that fits the way they are interested in underwriting were just right out of the gate major barriers.

Then you add being a woman, a woman of color, an indigenous woman and the historical relationship we have not only with banking, but with capital and sort of the economy of this country and the way we have had to have trust lands or reservation lands continues to impact all of us and we are considered high risk investments regardless of the fact that we know now through my work that that is not the case.

So, the story is consistent. I am 100% sure there was definitely some racist bias happening in the process. But at the same time, there was nothing I could do because there was nowhere else to turn for capital.

Shubha Chakravarthy: For context, what did your business do at the time?

Vanessa Roanhorse: We are a consulting firm, but really we are a for-profit entity that works with organizations and institutions to help them reimagine how move resources and directly invest in leaders on the ground.

We center our indigenous ways of knowing and being as part of the process. We are not making a product that is going to be sold on the market. We are very much like a consulting firm and our product is us and our thinking, our relationships, and our networks.

I think even the industry of that itself can be a really difficult thing to find capital for. But that’s really where I thought where you would have the trouble with investors and going after a different kind of investment.

I assumed going into a bank, asking for a loan or a line of credit should be as transactional as that, but it wasn’t.

Shubha Chakravarthy: I remember that the first time I heard you was at an SBA seminar on capital access for women, and I was frankly blown away by your comments on the current system of credit in particular.

You talked about this risk-based pricing, the poverty premium, the algorithms of the five Cs. Can you just talk about the specific ways in which this system works against women of color and indigenous women who are trying to start new businesses?

Vanessa Roanhorse: I mentioned some of it, but some of the pieces around this is that currently in the United States, if you are in a Native American indigenous person living on tribal lands you actually have to drive, for example, on my reservations, a minimum of 30 miles to find an ATM or potentially, if you are lucky, a banking institution.

So, fundamentally geographically, because of where we live and where we are from, there are not enough lending institutions that are willing to be on reservation lands, which is why we have things like predatory lending surrounding most all of our tribal nations.

Those that are willing to lend are actually really specifically only focused on credit management and being able to provide small loans to support people with emergency needs.

We have a desert of lending and financial products that are actually designed for businesses. There are a lot of personal loans out there, but for small businesses that are native owned we don’t have many places to turn to. So, traditional lending banks, like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, they do have small business programs.

But again, if you don’t have a relationship with those banks, you are not already banking with them, you can’t actually walk into them when you need to. There is an entire trust and relationship gap, that also happens. So, for me, some of the larger issues are just fundamentally geographical.

Two, we don’t have lending institutions that understand native people and what we need and how we need it. The kinds of lending institutions that we are looking for, like CDFIs or folks that provide alternative lending, they are not providing those types of resources to small business owners unless you are asking for a certain size.

We are not seeing enough funding available between $10,000 to $250,000.

So, you put all that together. That is specifically focused on people who are living on indigenous lands or reservations on tribal lands. That is sort of the historical situation we are in.

During the pandemic when everyone was getting access to PPP loans, so many of our small businesses were unable to activate any of that money because a lot of our reservations were closed down, they didn’t have deep relationships with their banking institutions, and the type of businesses that they were building, they weren’t able to pull together the applications fast enough or they weren’t actually activated fast enough, but we didn’t have enough lenders who understood Indian country.

If you are also a woman on top of that, we are also seeing that many of the women are unable to find things as simple as childcare to support them to go and do these types of activities. Then also for our women, we know fundamentally that not only is there a racial bias, but there is also a gender bias when we walk into these places to access resources.

Overarchingly, the issue is that we don’t have lending and investment and financial instruments that understand the lived experience of indigenous people in the United States. We don’t have enough of them willing to take chances on us because we historically have been considered high risk.

Shubha Chakravarthy: Got it. Thank you for helping me understand a lot of these nuances that aren’t easily available to those of us who don’t share that lifestyle, have a lot of exposure. I really appreciate that.

So, in your view what needs a change in the credit system in particular to remove some of these barriers to help women become more successful entrepreneurs?

Vanessa Roanhorse: I think a lot of this is starting to come to light, but it is not looking at things solely as a credit score and using the algorithms of the credit score as the only way that we determine people’s worthiness in the sense that the credit score has been developed.

We know fundamentally, for a lot of people and communities across the United States, the five Cs of credit is the prohibitive piece in being able to activate formal financing.

So, there is a conversation that is happening nationally around what does a relationship-based credit score look like? How do we reimagine looking at folks as five Cs of credit from a place of relationship community ownership?

Then I think ultimately what patient capital is to ensure folks have the runway to take the money that they are getting, to get where they need to go, so they can start making enough revenue to start paying it back.

I think for me and for the work we have been doing at Roanhorse and Native Women Lead has been pushing against the concept that the five Cs of credit are the only ways to value and underwrite an entrepreneur and in particular a native woman entrepreneur.

We really do believe it starts with who you are, what you are making, and if you are invested in where you are living. We look at what the other indicators that you are going to be paying this back are, that you are going to actually have the ability to take care of yourself and your family and still grow this company.

A lot of that is going to come with, “Do you pay yourself well? How much does it cost to bring someone on? Do you have the right relationships in the right markets to actually distribute your product?”

So much of this is just things that so many of our entrepreneurs don’t have because of the challenges they faced. So, our opportunity is to be like, “Well, what happens when we unlock that?”

We look at them from a place of, “You are going to be where you are because this is your family and your home. Now, tomorrow, and into the future, you are not going anywhere. So how do we look at that as part of the collateral?”

Shubha Chakravarthy: There are some elements of this that to me, have a parallel with micro-finance because of the whole piece around your being embedded in the community, representing the community, that is going to speak for your reliability in paying back.

So, my question to you is, have you seen bright spots or emerging models in this landscape that kind of build on that or leverage those elements, but then at the amounts of credit that are more appropriate to the entrepreneurs that you’re speaking of between the 10,000 and 250,000.

What are those bright spots? Can you just speak about some of those?

Vanessa Roanhorse: Yes. So, I absolutely think micro-finance that really kind of came out in international communities, in developing world countries and situations, and even that language is problematic for me, but in other places where capital was difficult to find, we knew that particularly women were the ones that were stewarding and caretaking for the communities, and those are the ones that were the most responsible of the capital.

There are so many of those historical tenets that are really important and do work. So, the micro-finance piece I think is a real opportunity for us to look differently at what it means to trust people and to do what they are going to say because what they are doing, something that supports them, where they live, the community around them lying on each other to do what we say we are going to do.

We really saw relationship or character-based lending and micro-finance as a real viable opportunity.

So, in the state of New Mexico a local credit union here called the Nusenda Credit Union started something called Co-op Capital. They began that in 2016. I’m proud to say we have been a part of it.

When it first started we had a PRI from a foundation, and through that PRI, we were able to support some partners on the ground to provide $10,000 personal loans using their own underwriting to support them for whatever they wanted to do.

The two categories were entrepreneurs and the other was what we called community stabilization folks. So, folks who were just trying to get through and needed emergency cash up to $10,000.

The credit union supported the partner organizations to come up with their own underwriting.

The credit union said, “Here are the parameters of the fund. It’s going to be up to 5%. We’re going to have a 10-year term limit for repayment. There are no penalties for early pay, and as long as folks are paying back the loan, we will then collateralize your loan up to a hundred percent. As part of that process, we are going to work with partners on the ground who are working with communities who can’t access as a lending institution because they no longer trust the lending institution.”

So, you will source them, you will come up with your own criteria and underwriting process and as long as they meet the minimum requirements for the credit unions to do this legally, meaning they had to have some form of ID if they did, if they had a relationship with the credit union, they had to have good standing with them and outside of that, they couldn’t have had any other sort of egregious debt issues or legal issues. That was it.

So, our partner organizations sourced investment opportunities, and I am proud to say that we started with less than a half a million dollars.

That was actually just outside of the credit union because we didn’t know what was going to happen to now the credit union fully integrating it into their entire suite of services. It is now a $4.2 million fund. We have 17 partners across the state of New Mexico. Our repayment rate is 98.5%.

As a result of that, we have moved close to $2 million to 200 plus people in New Mexico who would’ve never been able to activate or access capital before and are seeing those businesses and people start to develop a meaningful relationship with a financial institution and others.

Take this loan, pay it off, and go get a larger loan. We also saw an 11% increase in their credit score.

Shubha Chakravarthy: That’s fantastic. Congratulations, first of all for pulling this together.

Just a couple things on that. One is that you mentioned PRI or what is that term for those of us who don’t know what that is?

Vanessa Roanhorse: A “PRI” is a program related investment that comes out of a philanthropic organization.

So, this was philanthropic money that we received actually from the Kellogg Foundation, and it came along with grants. I will say now that PRI is about to be paid off or has been paid off actually, and the funds that are now collateralizing this are coming directly from the credit union.

Shubha Chakravarthy: That’s fantastic. It’s wonderful to hear. Where do you see this going as the next step to evolve and kind of increase its reach as well as its potential depth?

Vanessa Roanhorse: Sure. So, because of this, we have actually had a few of our partners on the ground who participated, who have had the chance to test and get the runway to be like, “What does it mean to be someone who is now a lender who is managing assets, who is doing direct investments”. 

I can say publicly, Change Labs, who is one of our partners, is now going to be partnering with the Navajo Nation and will be moving SSBCI money for Navajo and native entrepreneurs in the Four Corners region.  They were able to start to build that because of this initiative.

So, now we have a native led organization who is now building out their own lending fund and future venture capital fund. We have an organization like Native Women Lead which I am a co-founder of, which has also taken this initiative and partnered with Common Future and Community Credit Lab and took it from 10,000 to a $50,000 fund called the Restorative Fund and should be launching in the next few months, the Revolutionary Fund, which is a $10 million fund.

So, the impact of that is that we have seen folks get a chance to be in that decision making seat and realize that we can do this, and they are building it.

The other thing is that partnership with Common Future, two other partners have gone out and done the same thing. So, Common Future worked with Native Women Lead and ConnectUp! in Minnesota to do the same thing.

ConnectUp! in Minnesota is continuing to grow their fund and what I’ll say consistently across everybody that is doing this is that it has allowed conversation for people who have the lived experience of these entrepreneurs to come back and say, “This is the kind of capital they need. These are the type of products that they are looking for.”

So, there is a lot of conversation around revenue-based financing. There is a lot of conversation around creating more opportunities for lines of credit, lots of opportunities for convertible debt notes, and how do we continue to create these types of products so that these entrepreneurs can not only access it, but they can build and continue to build that follow on capital.

They are all different because their communities are different because no one product is going to serve everybody.

But what makes them so special is they understand where they are doing this because this is their community, and it is from their lived experience. So, you, combine that with creative products to come together. We are seeing just for the first-time real explosion on what it means to trust and to have relationship as primary forms of underwriting.

Shubha Chakravarthy: That is just awesome. I have a couple of things on that. One, I love how this is inculcating a sense of comfort with dealing with the financial world for these women, which is amazing and a second, they themselves are getting into more of what I’ll call “leadership positions” – in a position of giving the capital so that it teaches stewardship.

So, it kind of has benefits across multiple dimensions. Is there a story of a woman entrepreneur from this initiative that stands out in your mind of someone who started something, built something successfully?

Vanessa Roanhorse: Yes, for sure. There are probably a number of them, but I’m going to start with one of my favorites. Her name is Shayai Lucero. She is from the Pueblo Laguna here in New Mexico.

Shayai has been a small business owner for at least 15 years. She is a florist and as you can imagine, a native American florist on a tribal reservation is not very common and her company and the type of work she does doesn’t actually fit what folks want to invest in because she is not trying to grow a floral company to hire a thousand people and have deliveries across the United States.

She is really interested in the art of it, having a company on her tribal lands and being able to create these custom floral arrangements for her community and other communities and just bring them joy.

So, in her 15 years, she has applied for, at least at this point, 30 or 40 grants. She has applied for everything. I think out of all of them, she has only received maybe one award. So much of this because she doesn’t fit the profile.

What I can say is that her participation in this ecosystem of native led products and technical assistance and support systems she was able to actually build out a true store on her tribal lands, which for some folks might not sound very exciting, but if you know how hard it is to get land on your own tribal lands and how to build a company on your tribal lands, then the fact that she was able to not only do that, but now have a storefront, which allows her to increase her ability to serve not only her community, but the entire state of New Mexico.

That was huge and she was able to tap into our resources and take and activate one of the products. She paid it off twice as fast than anybody else. Took that same when she paid off that first loan, she was able to go back to the lending institution and get a much larger loan to not only build out her shop, but to be able to increase her products, to increase her line of credit, and now she is in a position where she can make decisions on how she wants to grow on her reservation as a native woman business owner.

That is the kind of safety net and agency that we want. We are not interested, but we will help you if you want venture capital. But if you just want to create a strong company where you live to take care of yourself and your family, we want to do that just as much.

Shubha Chakravarthy: That is fantastic. I’m going to be one of our big fans, so it is just great to hear that story.

I want to mention two things. You mentioned venture capital. Are there examples or is there appetite from the women that you work with in getting venture capital and have there been any success stories there as well?

Vanessa Roanhorse: Yes, I think because of this work and this conversation of really connecting native women entrepreneurs nationally, we are starting to see a lot of new incredible companies coming together led by women who are finally ready for that seed round.

So, the opportunity now is to underwrite a venture capital partner, who is going to not only help them get that seed round, but also support them in a way that understands what they are building because a lot of them are building companies, not only for native people, but for a lot of people. But they are starting from where they live.

So, I can say we have seen amazing companies like Totem, which is a new FinTech company coming out of Oklahoma. I can say that is one of those companies we want to watch.

There is another person, she lives in New York City, Sutton King. Sutton is working in multiple sectors, but she specifically focused on how to steward care for psychedelics through an indigenous and traditional worldview.

If anyone is paying attention, that industry is probably blowing up, but it is in desperate need of stewardship. So, Sutton King has her finger on a number of initiatives that are going to probably be looking for that seed round and maybe eventually series A.

In the last couple of years, we have seen Raven Indigenous Capital Partners moving into the state, into the lower United States here. They are working with a number of incredible native companies.

We are seeing new venture firm popping up, most recently was Tonka Ventures out of Colorado. Like I said, Change Labs here in the four corners of Arizona, New Mexico will probably also be working in that space.

Native Women Lead, while we are not doing venture capital work, we are still part of the story because there are still a lot of entrepreneurs that need that funding between 50k to 250k.

We are actively working to connect all these ecosystems because venture capital should be available to our community members when they are ready for it.

However, we also want to create other products for those who are not interested in venture capital, to just create quality companies and a meaningful life along with having the dignity to be able to access the capital you need. But it is happening. We are seeing opportunities for companies to tap into some of that PC money.

Shubha Chakravarthy: That’s great. So, if you had to develop a capital product, and I love how you kind of broke it down into different parts, what would that look like?

How do you think about creating a new capital product from scratch that would particularly meet the needs of women entrepreneurs, especially native women entrepreneurs?

Vanessa Roanhorse: Well, I’m still new to this space, but I feel like the funds that we have created with Native Women Lead, like I said, we started with micro-finance up to $10,000.

We have built, we have learned, we have asked our network, what do you need, what is working, what is not working, which then allowed us to then build the next one, which is our $10k to $50k. We continue to hone and ask those questions. Now as we embark upon our biggest one, which will be $50,000 to $250,000.

I feel like I can substantially say that when building these products, one of the best things that has ever happened for us is that we continually return back to who we are investing in and ask them, “What about this worked? What are the things happening around you that are impacting your ability to receive the money and pay the money back?”

We are in constant conversations. So, I think for product development for new types of investing and lending opportunities we have to keep going back to who it is we’re trying to serve.

I think it is really easy to have success with one thing and say this will now serve everybody and it is going to solve everything, but we have to be curious and constantly willing to learn what is working and what is not working.

Some of that is going to come with the fact that, and this is a hard one, and then I think this is a hard one across all entrepreneurial support organizations and lending institutions – that people don’t live in an entrepreneurial bubble.

There is an entire world and system that they are engaging in. So, there are children, there is caregiving, there is potentially violence, there are potentially situations like geographically where you can’t find a place to go and get capital.

We can’t solve all of the systemic challenges they’re facing. We can acknowledge it by doing things like providing tranches of funding that come along with potentially grant money supports to help with childcare.

We can look at how can we support these businesses with some of their issues around transportation. What are the other partnerships we can be building along with our products where we can build a true ecosystem and network a safety net for them.

Again, I know we can’t solve all the problems, I think the product piece of this is that we have only done what we think works and assume this is the best that we can do.

But if we don’t acknowledge that people live in a very fraught system and infrastructure, then we won’t ever be able to truly build that scaffold process for them to continue to achieve more.

It is not as technical as probably some folks are hoping to hear in terms of this answer because I think it is not the technical piece that is the problem because we are a very heady culture.

It is the heart piece that we are missing, and I think if we can bridge the fact that lived experience and where people are matter, the products will work, but we have to start there, and I think that has been our approach from the beginning.

Shubha Chakravarthy: I love it. What I took away, as you were describing this was two big pieces. The first was the difference in how you underwrite a basic relationship, how you even look at the gaze, right? Is it a credit gaze versus a relationship-based gaze was the first innovation.

The second innovation that I heard you describe was that it is a composite financial and non-financial package, which all went together essentially driving up the viability of making that investment in this person. Those to me, are pretty interesting and new that I haven’t heard before.

It sounds like you went through like a phased process where you started small and kind of built your way up. What were some of the learnings that you had in structuring these products and how you administered them that you then built into future product?

Vanessa Roanhorse: First, I just feel like you really simplified everything I said in a really great way, and I’m going to have to come back and be like, “I’m going to steal that.”

We actually had to build it from this tiny piece because we had to demonstrate every step of the way that we are investible as indigenous people and indigenous women. We did it by not using the five Cs of credit.

So, right out of the gate, we knew that we had to prove immediately that our community not only is capable of receiving money, but not on that they will pay it back and that we can continue to support them on their journey.

So, when we first started, it was just a matter of, “We have to move money. We have to move some capital.” The pandemic hit and we immediately were like, “We have got to move this even faster.”

So, right out of the beginning we had these high hopes and it really turned into an emergency product. As of a month ago, everyone has paid that off. The pandemic started in 2020, and we have had women pay off $10,000 in a few years.

So, the learnings we have taken from that is that we knew we needed to come up with a different form of underwriting. That evolved into what is now called our five Rs of Rematriation, which is our response back to the five Cs of credit and each of the Rs sort of hearkens back to one of the Cs, and we use that now in our underwriting.

So, in our due diligence process, under each R we have different questions. When you look at a due diligence document, you see different questions under each C. We have the same thing under the R, and we continue to take that because we are honing it and we are learning how much of this is giving us enough information so that we can increase the size of the loan.

So, we are learning that right now with our $10k to $50k, which parts of our five Rs are really successful, which part of the five of Rs we are going to have to work harder on, and we are going to take that into the next fund, which is the Revolutionary Fund, which will be at $50k to $250k.

The other thing that I think is really important in each of the designs and the learnings that we are carrying forward is that we have to build the safety net and resource system around them differently and as we are doing that, we are also realizing how much we need to expand relationships and networks beyond just native led organizations because the market is global.

That learning has been really exciting and beneficial. So, we spent a lot of time figuring out how to increase that network.

The final thing, because we do believe as indigenous people that due to land loss, which is worth $23 trillion today in the United States, that we don’t want to just give people debt because we believe we have already put the collateral up, that all of our products come with some sort of forgiveness to support these women to pay them off as quickly as possible.

Each of our products is designed to forgive a certain percentage of the loan if they can achieve X, Y, and Z. A part of that is because we are like, “We know you are working hard. We believe that you are going to pay this off” and as you do and hit these milestones, we go in to provide that forgiveness and we use that from other grant dollars.

Shubha Chakravarthy: I was going to ask you as you are building out this corpus and a whole system to fund women, not just here, but more broadly, are you seeing greater participation from the traditional financial system and how are you able to package the financials of this proposition to be attractive to them?

Vanessa Roanhorse: Yes. That has been definitely the big question mark for us because we can create this entire system of capital access that makes folks feel cared for, seen, understood, and supported.

But when they go outside of this little ecosystem, there is a whole world out there. So, right now we are learning from our network and our borrowers and as they want to go after different types of capital and if they are wanting to go after a different type of lending capital.

What we are doing is that we are providing them support to get their financials in order. So, they have access to resources within our network to work with an accountant to put financials together. Usually at the micro-finance stage, we are making sure we understand if they have financial systems in place.

Are they tracking their finances? We offer them access to a ton of technical systems where they can build those baseline systems. At the larger level, we offer them one-on-one consultants and coaching. Honestly, the consultants are the most valuable because like mentors and coaches are important, sometimes you just need to get stuff done.

So, we have a bevy of consultants that are financial advisors, consultants, writers, and accountants who will come and work with them to basically get their packages together.

But also, to help them build out their decks, to help them build out the value proposition for their companies and then alongside that, us at the team as needed will work with them and join them in those meetings as they desire. We do all of that because we know once they leave our little bubble, the system is exactly how it’s always been.

Our desire isn’t just giving money. I think money is the reason maybe sometimes people come, but we are trying to bring you into the whole ecosystem, which includes your peer sector specific learning opportunities accountants, HR professionals, attorneys.

It also includes healing circles. It includes summits and retreats and the ability to call us and tell us what is going on. I think that is what we are most interested in. We are using the capital to not only bring them in, but to work with them so that they can go out and continually build where they want to go.

Shubha Chakravarthy: I know we have three minutes left, so I’ll ask you this question. What is your personal biggest vision of impact of all of this work? Not just on your constituents, but on the bigger world in general?

Vanessa Roanhorse: I think if there is any personal contribution we make toward putting more money into the hands of women is that we see more women having economic agency and mobility to be safe, to be liberated and to basically rebalance who is at the decision-making table, so we are no longer pushed out.

Shubha Chakravarthy: This has been inspiring, informative, and instructive on so many levels. I want to thank you for taking the time Vanessa. This is amazing. Thanks for all of the work you do. Thanks for sharing it with us and we will be rooting for you and all of your folks for sure.

Vanessa Roanhorse: Thank you again. Thank you so much for the invitation. I’m so grateful for this!