SOAR - Multi-Million Dollar Fund Launches to Invest in Businesses Across the South

Original Press Release - PR Newswire - March 3, 2021

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 , 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