A group of community finance organizations is raising $ 150 million in capital to help small businesses and nonprofits in 15 states, including South Carolina, struggling to navigate and recover from the COVID crisis. 19.
The Southern Opportunity and Resilience Fund will provide economic stimulus loans designed to reach smaller businesses and historically underbanked organizations that have struggled to access capital from traditional sources, according to a press release. The fund will cover Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already uneven recovery from the Great Recession,” said George Ashton, chief executive of Support society for local initiatives., which manages the fund, said in a statement. “Southern states have experienced slower economic growth, lower labor market participation and higher unemployment than the rest of the country, in part due to the historic lack of corporate and philanthropic investment in the region. The SOAR Fund, with the support of major banks, foundations and corporations, will tackle these issues head-on by tackling structural barriers to economic opportunity by providing capital to small businesses and nonprofits in the South who need it now.
The application portal, slated to open in April, will offer flexible loans of up to $ 100,000 to small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 50 full-time employees. The fonds replicates similar models in New York and California by working with and through Community development financial institutions.
Interested small business owners and nonprofits can view program eligibility and product terms and register interest at www.TheSoarFund.org. Once the application portal is launched, eligible applicants will be matched with a participating lender who will assist the business owner with the application and provide advisory support.
Catalytic initial grants and loans are provided by Capital One, Microsoft, the FB Heron Foundation, Fidelity Charitable with support from CapShift, the Heifer Foundation, Mercy Investment Services, Woodforest National Bank, Ceniarth and the Jacksonville-based Chartrand family in Florida. , according to the press release.
“We are delighted to partner and invest in the Southern Opportunity and Resilience Fund with the goal of increasing access to capital and support for underserved community businesses and nonprofits,” said Tahreem Kampton , Microsoft Corporate Treasurer. “Microsoft is committed to fighting racial injustice in our society, our ecosystems and our communities. Many small businesses across the country and in our southern and southeastern states have struggled economically due to COVID-19. We are pleased to support this collaborative effort to help provide opportunity in communities that have been historically underserved. “
Thirteen CDFIs will produce 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. CDFIs will be supported by technical assistance and business support organizations, including Winrock International, LISC’s local offices and National Rural Program, and Small Business Majority, which will contribute to awareness raising, education and services. business consulting. Calvert Impact Capital organizes and LISC Fund Management manages the fund.
“We encourage all small business owners and non-profit organizations who need assistance to visit the website, learn about the fund, and register so that you are pre-registered once on the program. launched, “said Patrick Davis, vice president of strategy at Community Reinvestment Fund. , UNITED STATES.
Applicants can register online via CRF’s Connect2Capital platform when the fund is launched.