WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA) today applauded the naming of An Unlikely Solution as a four-time winner at the prestigious Hollywood International Independent Documentary Film Awards. The film, which explores how innovative Native American tribes are offering consumers access to installment loans and other financial service products over the internet, was named a winner in the Documentary Feature, Narration, Editing, and Music Score categories. The film is available online for free at AnUnlikelySolution.com.
"An Unlikely Solution tells the powerful story of the necessity and opportunity for e-commerce in Indian Country," said Barry Brandon, Executive Director of NAFSA. "Tribal online lending entities not only help tribes by generating revenue for critical social services, they also benefit consumers who have been shut out of the traditional banking system. We're thrilled that this film and the important issues it raises have been recognized by the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Film Awards."
An Unlikely Solution documents the successes and challenges of geographically isolated tribes who, lacking traditional business opportunities, have found an economic lifeline in the internet. Struggling to otherwise generate revenue for essential tribal government services such as healthcare, nutrition assistance, elder care, and education, these entrepreneurial tribes began offering installment loans to consumers over the internet. These loans are a saving force for the millions of underbanked Americans who have been shut out of the traditional banking system and cannot otherwise access credit when they need it most.
About Tribal E-Commerce
Life on Indian reservations is challenging. More than 25 percent of Native Americans live in poverty. On some of the more remote reservations, unemployment can exceed 60 percent. And in the age of the internet, while three-quarters of Americans have reliable access to broadband, for Native people that number drops to 1 in 10.
With so many tribes relegated to geographically remote reservations, the virtual world of e-commerce has opened the doors to a significant and unique economic development opportunity. For the Indian nations currently taking advantage of the possibilities the digital revolution now offers, revenues from their online lending businesses can account for as much as 75 percent of a tribal government's revenue.
These profits help fund critical social programs provided by tribal governments, including health care, education, home heating subsidies, nutrition assistance, housing, elder care, and more. The businesses also create jobs on the reservations, reducing the unemployment rate and giving tribal members the opportunity to free themselves from dependence on government support.
About Underbanked Consumers
Over 25 million people in the U.S. are unbanked, and another 67 million people are underbanked – meaning they are without an account at a bank or other financial institution. In a national survey by Bankrate.com, 63 percent of people said they don't have the savings to cover a $500 car repair or a $1,000 medical or dental bill.
Traditional sources of credit are generally not an option for these consumers. The small-dollar short-term loan products provided by tribes are helping millions of these Americans who are unable to access credit from conventional financial institutions, but need quick access in order to meet urgent financial situations.
According to the Center for Financial Services Innovation, "Having the ability to borrow relatively small sums, on reasonable terms, can help individuals weather a financial shock, smooth income fluctuations, build a positive credit history, and facilitate a wealth-building purchase."
The Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA) formed in 2012 to advocate for Native American sovereign rights and enable tribes to offer responsible online lending products. Through the protection of consumer rights and sovereign immunity, NAFSA provides vital services to tribally operated lenders serving the under-banked with better short term financial services, furthering economic development opportunities in Indian Country.
SOURCE Native American Financial Services Association