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Skya's Story: Annual Message

Hi there and happy New Year!



Man, what a ride 2021 took us on. Reflecting back on the last year has left me with a lot of thoughts ings. It’s been a marathon at a sprint pace keeping up with our organizational growth. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for my team, which has grown to a staff of five, and what we’ve accomplished this past year. In an effort to meet larger capital needs of our Native producers, we increased our loan limit to $250,000. And, we introduced new products – mortgage and down payment assistance loans – to support land acquisition and wealth building within our clientele.


In addition to that, we’ve also taken on a few projects like our strategic plan and rancher financial literacy workbook. Our strategic plan will help guide us for the next few years in pursuit of our goals. The highlights of our strategic plan center around:

  • Promoting producer prosperity. We want to further develop our technical assistance process by creating more financial literacy tools, deepen our development services, and produce more planning resources for our producers.

  • Researching, tracking, and enhancing. In an effort to gain a deeper understanding of our market and what products and services are most beneficial, we’ll conduct a market study to determine the unmet needs of our demographic. We will also track the impact resulting from our programs to identify our organization wide performance, share what we have learned in more formal reports, and enhance outreach to expand our impact.

  • Meeting needs. Because agriculture is a demanding and diverse industry, we will continue to develop new lending products and processes to continue to meet the needs of our producers.

  • Building internal capacity for sustainability. We know our producers are out there working hard doing their part to feed the world, and we want to make sure we are doing our part to serve them. We will continue to implement and expand workforce development strategies to best serve our producers.


During our strategic planning process, we also revamped our mission statement and created a vision statement, which I’ve included below.


MISSION

Akiptan’s mission is to transform Native agriculture and food economies by delivering

creative capital, leading paradigm changes, and enhancing producer prosperity across

Indian Country.


VISION

Financial gaps have been filled and systems have been altered to ensure a future in

which Native producers have equitable and innovative access to capital and resources to

support their success in an Indigenized agriculture and food economy.


We already have several special projects for 2022 underway. In addition to delivering our regular programming, we will be:

  • Creating two more financial literacy workbooks in our series

  • Conducting a Market Study with our partners

  • Doing an Economic and Impact Analysis of our work

  • Developing additional tools and resources that our producers can utilize

  • Hosting an informational webinar series around a variety of topics

  • Increasing our youth programming

  • And much more!

I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge the hardships that this year brought. Between the ongoing global pandemic, fluctuating market prices, drought, fires, and continued economic inequities, it has taken a toll on us all in one way or another. As Native people working in agriculture, we don’t know anything other than to be resilient, but being resilient is exhausting. Navigating systems that sometimes seem like they are working against us is exhausting. But, when you get bucked off, you dust off your boots and get right back on. It’s time to dust off our boots and keep trying. When I’m feeling like I’m at the end of my rope, I make a conscious effort to do the things that bring me happiness. Whether that’s taking a joy ride on my horse through the cows in the springtime to admire all the new calves, or enjoy a peaceful, early morning sunrise breathing in the cool crisp air before the weight of the day has hit me, or just spending time with my family and friends, I make it happen. Whatever it may be for you, take the time to recharge. The work will still be there when you’re done, but it will feel a little less heavy.


Our work wouldn’t be possible without our investors, foundations, and donors, and we want to thank them for their generous support and commitment to Native agriculture. We’ve made the most incredible connections with inspiring thought partners, consultants, and colleagues who are willing to share their secrets to success. The growing staff here at Akiptan is so grateful that we get to work with the most amazing producers and entrepreneurs across Indian Country, and we are ecstatic to continue that work moving into 2022. Make sure to get signed up for our newsletters and follow us on social media, if you’re not already, to keep up with our journey and check out our ever changing website for a variety of resources.


Here’s to another great year!


All my best,


Skya Ducheneaux

Executive Director






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