National and Local Community Lenders Announce Multi-Million Dollar Fund to Support Small Business and Nonprofit Recovery Across the South
The Southern Opportunity and Resilience (SOAR) Fund aims to support the recovery of
small businesses and nonprofits with access to flexible, affordable capital and free
business support services across 15 southern states
March 3, 2021 – A diverse group of community finance organizations today announced
the Southern Opportunity and Resilience (SOAR) Fund, which aims to raise $150
million to provide affordable capital and free business support to small businesses and
nonprofits in 15 southern and southeastern states to help them navigate and rebuild
from the Covid-19 health and economic crisis.
The SOAR Fund was created by community lenders in the South to provide economic
recovery loans to small businesses in their communities at a time when they are facing
unprecedented health and economic challenges. The loans are designed to reach the
smallest of small businesses and those that have been historically underbanked – the
type of businesses that this coalition of lenders have been serving for decades. These
businesses often struggle to access capital from traditional sources but are critical to
providing jobs and supporting economic recovery in communities across the South.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already uneven recovery from the Great
Recession. Southern states had slower economic growth, lower labor force
participation, and higher unemployment than the rest of the country, partially driven by
the historic lack of corporate and philanthropic investment in the region,” said George
Ashton, managing director at Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) , which
manages the Fund. “The SOAR Fund, with support from leading banks, foundations,
and corporations, will tackle these issues head-on by addressing structural barriers to
economic opportunity by providing capital to Southern small businesses and nonprofits
that need it now.”
The portal for small businesses is scheduled to open in April and will offer flexible,
affordable loans of up to $100,000 to small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than
50 full-time employees. The Fund replicates similar models that have succeeded in New
York and California by working with and through local Community Development
Financial Institutions (CDFIs).
All interested small business owners and nonprofits can review program eligibility,
product terms, and indicate interest at www.TheSoarFund.org , which will notify business
owners once the application portal is live. Once the application portal launches, eligible
applicants will be matched with a participating lender that will assist the business owner
with the application and provide advisory support.
Catalytic initial grants and loans are being provided by Capital One, Microsoft, the F.B.
Heron Foundation, Fidelity Charitable with support from CapShift, the Heifer
Foundation, Mercy Investment Services, Woodforest National Bank, Ceniarth, and the
Jacksonville, Florida-based Chartrand Family.
“By investing in the Southern Opportunity and Resilience Fund, we are enabling
recovery and economic stability to historically under-served businesses and
communities through a robust network of CDFI partners to deliver targeted business
support services,” said Theresa Bedeau, Community Impact & Investment at Capital
One. “Capital One is proud to support SOAR as its entrepreneurs build their businesses
and nonprofits, establish financial well-being and secure their futures.”
“We’re pleased to partner and invest in the Southern Opportunity and Resilience
(SOAR) Fund with the goal to increase access to capital and support for underserved
community businesses and nonprofits,” said Tahreem Kampton, Corporate Treasurer at
Microsoft. “ Microsoft is committed to addressing racial injustice in our society,
ecosystems, and communities. Many small businesses across the country and in our
southern and southeastern states have struggled economically due to Covid-19. We are
glad to support this collaborative effort to help provide opportunities in communities that
have been historically underserved.”
Thirteen CDFIs will originate loans purchased by the Fund, including Access to Capital
for Entrepreneurs (ACE), Accion Opportunity Fund, Ascendus, BCL of Texas, Black
Business Investment Fund, Communities Unlimited, LiftFund, NCIFund, NDC’s
Community Investment Loan Fund, Pathway Lending, People Fund, Southern Bancorp
Community Partners, and TruFund Financial Services. As a collaborative, these lenders
have full reach across the region, have served on the front lines of the economic crisis
and have decades of experience providing high-touch lending and advisory services to
small businesses and nonprofit organizations. The CDFIs will be supported by leading
technical assistance and business support organizations including Winrock
International, LISC’s local offices and national rural program , and Small Business
Majority, which will help with outreach, education, and hands-on business advisory
services. Calvert Impact Capital is arranging and LISC Fund Management is managing
“TruFund is proud to be a member of the SOAR Fund Partnership,” said James H.
Bason, President and CEO of TruFund Financial Services, a participating CDFI. “We
are committed to rebuilding a stronger more resilient small business ecosystem
particularly in communities that have suffered from the lack of access to affordable
capital and whose vulnerabilities are now exacerbated by COVID-19 and the related
“Small businesses are not only essential to the fabric of our communities — creating
jobs, providing valuable services and powering local economies — but they are also
essential to the entrepreneurs who start them and the people they employ, in this case
people who are historically underserved and adversely affected by the pandemic. It is
imperative, then, that we help small businesses adapt, reopen safely and rebuild,” said
Patricia McCall, Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Global Strategy at Winrock
International. “SOAR offers potential business partners and donors an opportunity to
join in this important mission.”
“We encourage all small business owners and nonprofits who need support to visit the
website, learn about the Fund and sign up so you’re pre-registered once we launch the
program,” said Patrick Davis, Vice President of Strategy at Community Reinvestment
Fund, USA (CRF).
When the Fund opens, CRF’s Connect2Capital platform will allow applicants to sign up
online and get matched to a lender in less than five minutes.
The SOAR Fund covers: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana,
Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas,
Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
For more information, visit www.TheSoarFund.org .
About the SOAR Fund
The Southern Opportunity and Resilience Fund (SOAR) provides access to flexible,
affordable capital and free business support services to small businesses and nonprofits
through trusted community-based organizations. These organizations have decades of
experience supporting historically under-resourced small businesses, including those in
low-income and rural communities and owned by women and people of color.
SOAR is a collaborative partnership of local and national community finance
organizations created to address the needs of historically disenfranchised communities
as they navigate and rebuild from the COVID-19 crisis. SOAR includes leaders from
across sectors including local community lenders, national and state-based nonprofit
organizations, corporations, philanthropic donors, and investors - all who are passionate
about an equitable recovery across the region.
For press inquiries Erin Musgrave EMC Communications (530) 864-7014 firstname.lastname@example.org
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SOURCE Calvert Impact Capital via PR Newswire