The Southern Opportunity And Resilience (SOAR) Fund provides flexible, affordable capital and free business support services to small businesses and nonprofits across the South and Southeast to help them navigate and rebuild from the Covid-19 economic crisis. As of December 31, 2022, the SOAR has made $62.8 million in loans and was able to support 1,148 small businesses and nonprofits.
60 Decibels, an impact measurement firm, partnered with CRF USA and Calvert Impact Capital to analyze the Southern Opportunity and Resilience (SOAR) Fund. Loan recipients were contacted in 14 Southern States, from Florida to Texas and Virginia. 91% of respondents from the survey have been in business for at least 3 years and 57% have revenues of less than $250k.
We'd like to highlight some key findings below. Please find the full report here.
1. The SOAR Fund served many first-time business borrowers
A majority of the respondents were first-time borrowers, with 74% indicating they could not have easily found a good alternative to the SOAR Fund loan.
2 in 5 loan recipients are female and more than three quarters are BIPOC.
“They were there when we needed funding the most. The loan was easy to complete, and the process was quick. The lender also cared about my business's success.” – Female, Florida
2. The SOAR Fund loan served as a critical capital injection for many businesses.
As a result of receiving a loan through the SOAR Fund:
79% say their ability to maintain jobs has increased because of the loan
74% say their stress level related to finances has decreased as a result of the loan
62% report they can better manage their finances now than before receiving the loan
12% believe they would have closed permanently if not for the loan
Over half of the loan recipients indicate their employees’ quality of life has improved as a result of the SOAR Fund Loan, with most responses saying that they were able to retain current employees, hire more, or provide pay raises.
“They [employees] are happy when they see more orders and people dining in. The environment is more positive, and I did not have to reduce or lay off any employees.” - Female, Florida
60 Decibels also measured the responses of loan recipients with the Net Promoter Score. The Net Promoter Score ® (NPS) is a gauge of satisfaction and loyalty. Anything above 50 is considered excellent. A negative score is considered poor. SOAR Fund has a Net Promoter Score® of 80 amongst loan recipients, which is higher than the 60dB US and Financial Inclusion Benchmarks and suggests high satisfaction.
“Whoever came up with the SOAR program needs to know that it is very appreciated by people.” – Male, Arkansas
3. Additional capital support is an anticipated need for most businesses
64% report they will need additional capital in the coming 12 months. 66% would use the additional capital for marketing; 59% for hiring more staff; 48% for working capital
“I could use more capital to market and increase the locations we have. The more inventory we have, the more I can pay people to cover a larger territory; I do not have the capital to do that right now.” – Female, Georgia
LISC Strategic Investments is thankful for the detailed report by 60 Decibels and will use this information to improve its loan processes and continue supporting small business success.