Tayla Thorstenson: A Young Lady's Road to Success.
To kick off our first ever success story, I think it’s important to talk about Akiptan’s first loan to a young lady who inspired the idea of Akiptan. Tayla is a young Lakota from the Cheyenne River Sioux Nation who was wanting to join her family in their ranching operation by starting her own herd. Tayla had the unique idea to purchase a milk cow to breed and to also raise several other bum calves. In order to grow her herd she would keep back a couple of the calves and sell the others to make her payments.
Tayla, like many other young and beginning farmers and ranchers, went to the FSA looking to find financing for her ag venture. However, due to the FSA not being able to see the potential in a set up such as Tayla’s, they were not setting her up to succeed. The FSA wanted to give Tayla two loans: one for her milk cow and an operating loan to purchase the other bum calves. With this financing Tayla would not be able to keep back some of the heifer calves and still make her payments- inevitably landing her right in the middle of the agriculture debt cycle as a 17 year old. This seems like an unfair price to pay for thinking outside of the box while just trying to make some extra cash and get started in the livestock industry.
This situation was brought to the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) who fought for fair financing for Tayla. Nevertheless, the FSA was not able to finance Tayla’s creative situation in a capacity that would have allowed for her to experience success in the way that she envisioned for herself. This frustrated several of the minds at IAC which birthed the idea of a Native CDFI that would be dedicated to agriculture from the minds of Ross Racine and Zach Ducheneaux. Fast forward to January of 2019 and Tayla was closing a loan with Akiptan to refinance her FSA situation.
Closing this loan was monumental, not only for Akiptan, but also for Tayla. This allowed for Tayla to start her cattle herd at a young age and to do it how she wanted to. It also marked the occasion of Akiptan opening its doors and taking its first step in its journey of changing finance not only in Indian Country, but to the rest of the world.
This past weekend the staff at Akiptan conducted a site visit to see the much talked about milk cow, Joplin. Joplin is doing well and raising babies in this unusually wet South Dakota summer. Tayla is going to be heading off to college in the fall to pursue further education with the security in knowing that her ag future is off to a great start.