The White Earth Investment Initiative (WEII) began in 2002 and became a certified Community Development Financial Institution in 2007. Its history of lending, paired with development services on the White Earth Reservation, has led to economic impacts in the area of job creation and development in distressed communities. Thus far, WEII has provided more than $1.3 million in business loans, which has created more than 60 jobs.
WEII focused its early activities on community development issues, including beautification, zoning and community governance. In 2004, WEII began a program that provides down-payment assistance to low-income workers for the purchase of affordable and reliable used cars. In 2005, WEII began providing culturally relevant homebuyer and business education as well as technical assistance to individual businesses, offering its first "Business 101 for Artisans" class in 2007 to tailor educational efforts to a particular group of entrepreneurs.
In 2005, WEII began its involvement in free tax preparation on the reservation as part of a partnership with Mahube Community Council. This led to the establishment of an independent tax site. In 2008, tax services expanded to include the Express Refund Loan and Savings Program, a strategy designed to reduce the number of high-cost, rapid-refund loans among low-income individuals.
In 2006, WEII began providing financial literacy education using the "Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families" curriculum.
Today, WEII continues to focus its mission on helping create new jobs, improving community life and providing assistance to those on the White Earth Reservation.