Akiptan is pleased to introduce our team of people who are helping make a change in Indian Ag Finance. This month, we are highlighting our Loan Officer, Kole Fitzpatrick from the Rocky Mountain Region.
Kole is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana and has been with Akiptan as a Loan Officer since 2021. He grew up on his family ranch near Browning, Montana. Kole attended college at the University of Montana receiving a business degree in 2007. After college Kole worked for the Blackfeet Tribe in the Tribal Employment Rights Office as a compliance officer. Kole then went on to work for Native American Community Development Corporation as an Ag Consultant working on the Native American Credit Outreach Initiative, which was a program to help Montana Native American producers access Farm Service Agency farm loan programs. After the outreach position, Kole went on to a job with Intertribal Ag Council as the Montana and Wyoming Regional Technical Assistance Specialist. Kole continues to operate his cow-calf operation on the Blackfeet Reservation alongside his family and joins Akiptan Inc. as a Loan Officer for the Rocky Mountain region.
How did you start in the Native Ag Lending Industry?
My career in this field started in 2011 with the late Eloise Cobell; she hired me to do some Farm Service Agency (FSA) work within the Native American Community Development Corporation (NACDC). I then moved to the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) in late 2012, where I was a Rocky Mountain Region Technical Assistant. I enjoyed my role there and was with them for about10 years. Since then, I’ve been with Akiptan for the past two years and this work has helped me to deepen my work within the Native Agriculture Lending Industry.
What is your favorite part of working at Akiptan?
I appreciate the innovative financing that we offer here at Akiptan. We are able to help producers find tangible solutions, rather than being boxed in with many regulations. Seeing the positive effects of technical assistance is also one of my favorite solutions that we offer. This service helps us to set our producers up for success.
What would you say about the Akiptan team you work with?
The entire Akiptan team has Indian Agriculture in their hearts, they come from an agricultural background and they work with the producers to find ways to say yes, rather than no. The work ethic of the Akiptan team and the sincerity of it makes meeting the goals of the organization a rewarding experience.
What do you think makes Akiptan Unique?
What makes Akiptan unique is the nationwide lending, and the technical assistance we do with our partners - the producers. We play a supporting role for the producers across Indian Country, and we continue to keep the clients in the loop by sharing helpful information as it arises during the one-on-one quarterly check-ins.
“We play a supporting role for the producers across Indian Country, and we continue to keep the clients in the loop by sharing helpful information as it arises during the one-on-one quarterly check-ins. " - Kole
We also believe that investing in the youth is a step in food security, so we offer youth loans, a summer internship, and high school scholarships to support higher education in the Native Agriculture Industry. Along with the monthly webinars and the financial literacy curriculums, we are willing to offer financial literacy knowledge to the producers with the goal of moving from surviving to thriving.
How has your passion for assisting those in Native Agriculture financing developed since working at Akiptan?
I've done a lot of lending and getting them (the producers) in the doors. This opportunity as a Loan Officer with Akiptan has opened it up even more, from start to finish. I'm able to support the producers in many ways. Being witness to seeing my parents struggle to access lending/funding, as well as government programs for their cattle operation drove me to understand the programs and then things fell together with my job.
What are some of the successes that have happened while in your role as a loan officer at Akiptan?
I have been able to assist producers to grow in their operations and increase my understanding of agriculture lending simultaneously. I’ve been able to support the mission of Akiptan and supporting our producers has been one of the biggest successes in my role as a Loan Officer. (Will look back at his numbers)
What are your goals for the next few months or years as a loan officer?
I would like to make sure that I’m helping my current borrowers to the best of my ability and to increase my one-on-one time with clients to get their projections and details refined. I also hope to recruit more borrowers and add more training to further my skills to help them.
What is one thing you would like people to know about your job?
I think that my background as a calf cow operation has assisted in my role as a Loan Officer, my clients call me often for everyday questions and I’m glad that they know that we are here for them, they can call and ask questions about their operation and have a thought partner to help them to find solutions. At Akiptan we view our clients as our partners and we know that we are in this together for the success of the Native American Agriculture economy.
Learn more about our Programs and Financing here: https://www.akiptan.org/loanproducts