Southern Opportunity And Resilience (SOAR) Fund Insights
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.
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.
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