An Unlikely Solution is an award-winning documentary film that tells the story behind the Native American Tribes offering consumers access to installment loans and other financial service products over the Internet. This unique partnership has created an innovative economic development lifeline for Tribal governments, while also providing an essential service for underbanked consumers across the country. Thirty-eight million Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and more than half of the population can’t access two thousand dollars in case of an emergency. When these families run into unexpected challenges like medical bills, car problems, or other urgent cash needs, many have banks unwilling to offer loans of the size and scope they need. Even if a bank did offer a product that could work, consumers found themselves turned away due to poor credit or even a lack of a credit history at all. After being rejected by the traditional banking system, many of these consumers have found an alternative solution that they can quickly access from their own homes – online installment loans. This innovative solution does not come from big banks, but rather from American Indian Tribes that are located on some of the most isolated lands in the country. At the same time, many Native American tribes continue to struggle to provide necessary resources for their members, including access to healthcare, nutrition assistance, elder care, education and more. The United States government signed numerous treaties with tribes, setting forth the government’s trust responsibility to provide for the well-being of Tribal Nations. While tribes receive some support from federal programs and grants as part of this sacred trust, many tribes have created their own economic development initiatives to help meet the needs of their members. The struggle to provide their people with basic necessities has been particularly challenging for tribes whose reservations are located in rural areas, far from population centers. These tribal governments have struggled to establish traditional businesses due to their remote locations, leaving them unable to create employment opportunities for their members, or to generate much-needed revenues to fill the gaps between the federal funding they receive and the costs of providing essential programs and social services. The digital revolution has provided the answer to creating economic sustainability for tribes who face challenges like these. The Internet has enabled tribes to overcome the geographic disadvantages their forced relocation onto reservations created, and to enable virtual visits to the reservation by consumers from all around the country and the world. Some tribes have begun to engage in this type of e-commerce by oﬀering financial service products. The online lending products these tribes have created help millions of everyday Americans who are unable to access short-term small-dollar credit from traditional banks and face urgent financial needs.
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