Access sector-first insights from 2,939 Cambodian microfinance clients Download sample report

Southern Opportunity And Resilience (SOAR) Fund Insights

60 Decibels worked with Calvert Impact Capital & CRF USA to measure the impact of the SOAR Fund; these loans were critical for many businesses as they recover from COVID-19's worst impacts.

Calvert Impact, Community Reinvestment Fund, USA, and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) came together at the start of the pandemic to build recovery programs that expanded access to credit for un- and under-banked small businesses, including the Southern Opportunity and Resilience (SOAR) Fund. The SOAR Fund is a partnership of local and national community finance organizations created to address the capital needs of historically underbanked communities across the South and Southeast. Through 12 participating CDFIs across 16 states, the program provided flexible, affordable capital and free business support to small businesses and nonprofits.

60 Decibels was engaged to evaluate the impact of expanding access to credit during periods of economic hardship by speaking directly with the small businesses that were affected by COVID. 60 Decibels studied how access to credit contributes to income creation and wealth building for entrepreneurs, particularly businesses owned by women and under-represented racial and ethnic groups.

By hearing directly from small business owners about their experience and outlook, banks, investors, and policymakers can be responsive and supportive in preserving businesses and jobs.


have never borrowed money for their business prior to applying for this loan


have never applied online for a business loan prior to this experience


indicate they could have not found a good alternative

Who did the SOAR Fund loans reach?

SOAR Fund loans were designed to provide flexible, affordable capital and free business support services to small businesses and nonprofits to help them navigate and rebuild from the Covid-19 economic crisis. 50% of loan recipients are Black/African American.

A variety of industries are well represented among the loan recipients we spoke with. Commerce and sales is the most represented at 22%. The average of employees has increased from 3 to 5 between the time of application and the survey date. 41% of loan recipients have 1 or 2 employees.


report they can better manage their finances now


say their stress levels related to finances has decreased


believe they would have closed permanently if not for the loan

Top Findings:

1. The SOAR Fund served many first-time business borrowers.

2. The SOAR Fund loan served as a critical capital injection for many businesses.

3. Additional capital support is an anticipated need for most businesses.

“It allowed us to keep people working in our slower season to build inventory for our busy season.”

– Female, North Carolina

Click below to download the full report, or check out the results from a similar CDFI New York Impact project, or the California Rebuilding Fund.

Download the full report
Click here

Let's talk

We help you understand your social performance by listening to your customers, suppliers, employees, or beneficiaries.
Get in touch

Quirky, informative, and a little bit nerdy - sign up for The Volume

Priority access to our favorite monthly finds, alongside 11,361 other data geeks

By signing up to the 60 Decibels mailing list, you consent to your data being collected and stored in line with our privacy policy