Business | Technology

Lac Vieux Desert Band bolsters lending business with acquisition of service firm

The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians was featured in An Unlikely Solution, a film about the online lending industry in Indian Country. Still image from An Unlikely Solution

The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Michigan has acquired a company that has provided services to its online lending operation.

As part of the deal, the tribe is paying seven figures up front for Bellicose Capital and will make annual payments for up to seven years. The purchase gives the tribe more control of its lending business, which represents a major part of its economy.

"This transaction is, without question, the most important economic development in the history of our tribe," Tribal Chairman James Williams, Jr., said in a press release. "It is always a testament to our growth as a tribe and as entrepreneurs when we are able to complete transactions like the purchase of Bellicose. It shows the world that we have laid the foundation – through knowledge, training, and infrastructure investments – to further the livelihoods of our tribal citizens."

Bellicose Capital was providing a wide range of services to the tribe's lending operation. According to the press release, those services include credit modeling, risk assessment and auditing.

This purchase has positioned us to strengthen our tribe, enhance our reservation, preserve our culture, operate our government, and provide educational, medical, and social services to our most vulnerable members and the children of our community." Williams said. "It will be a great personal legacy for all those involved."

The lending business, which goes by the name Castle Payday, provides jobs on the reservation and supports health, education, per capita payments and other programs. According to The Washington Post, which ran a front page story on the operation last March, 42 percent of the tribe's budget comes from online loans.

The Tribal Financial Services Regulatory Authority is responsible for developing laws and regulations for the lending operation.

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