The NNDF A Little Loan Fund That Could… Help a New Restaurateur

—News Release—

The NNDF A Little Loan Fund That Could… Help a New Restaurateur

Tribal member Theresa Desautel-Gilcrist opens up the first restaurant in the Colville Tribes new Government Center

February 4, 2016 – Nespelem Washington.

In November of 2014, Theresa Desautel saw an opportunity. The Colville Tribes had just opened a brand new multi-million dollar government center that would house the entire Tribal administration. Hundreds of employees would be working in the new, state-of-the-art building. All those employees needed to eat.

Mrs. Desautel-Gilcrist approached the Tribe with a proposal to operate a cafeteria in the new building, offering healthy, tasty fare for breakfast and lunch. The new cafeteria would be operated by a private person, a Tribal member, rather than the government. The Tribal administration liked her idea and said, “Yes” to her proposal.Theresa sign

There was one problem. Mrs. Desautel-Gilcrist needed start up capital and some help with her business plan. The Northwest Native Development Fund has established itself as the “go to” local organization for both funding and business expertise for budding native entrepreneurs. Theresa turned to the Northwest Native Development Fund for help and the staff at NNDF went to work helping her make her dream come true.

The Executive Director of the NNDF, Ted Piccolo, noted some of the challenges Theresa faced, “Revenue projections for restaurants are difficult. Projections for a café, on a Reservation, in a brand new building of this size are even more difficult,” he said, “but things are always easier when the owner dives right into the project and Theresa really did.”

Entrepreneurs with a new business idea often find that start-up capital is extremely difficult, and often impossible, to get. Trying to get that kind of financing for a Tribally owned building on an Indian Reservation adds to that challenge. It most often entails more difficulties than an outside bank can address. However, the Northwest Native Development Fund was established to meet challenges just like this and has built itself upon doing those difficult deals. The specialized vision of the NNDF allows it to see true potential, accurately assessing the capabilities of the prospective native entrepreneur and then providing the financing needed.

Piccolo said, “In the case of Red Willow Café’, the market was there. The customers were right there in the building. The owner, Theresa, was burning the midnight oil leading up to the opening and the Tribal government administration really wanted a private individual in there who could service their employees. There was just many reasons a financing entity in the right place, with the right philosophy of lending, would take the opportunity to partner with Mrs. Desautel-Gilcrist.”

Eight weeks later the Red Willow Café’ opened its doors. Inside were 5 new employees and a whole new line-up of foods for the Nespelem area including healthy salads, sandwiches, soups, and smoothies. It might have seemed normal for Seattle, but for this small proud community located in the heart of the Colville Indian Reservation it is new and exciting. Very exciting.

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The NNDF

The NNDF