Investing in the South’s Small Businesses
and Community Nonprofits

The Southern Opportunity And Resilience (SOAR) Fund provides flexible, affordable capital and free business support services to small businesses and nonprofits across the south and southeast to help them navigate and rebuild from the Covid-19 economic crisis.

Get Started

Loans of up to $100,000 available for small businesses and nonprofits with 50 or fewer full-time employees

For Small Businesses

Sign up to learn more and be the first to be notified when applications are open.

Partner with SOAR

Join the coalition of organizations committed to an equitable recovery across the south and southeast United States.

Serving these Southern States

SOAR service area

With Support From

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Eligibility & Loan Terms

Loans are intended for small businesses and nonprofits that have experienced direct economic disruption as a result of COVID-19 shutdowns, have fewer than 50 full-time employees and less than $5 million in annual revenue.

The goal of the fund is to support as many small businesses and nonprofits as possible, but not all organizations will be matched with a participating community lender based on each lender’s initial criteria. If matched, you will be connected with a local community lender, which will be a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). The community lender will work with you on your full loan application. If approved, the loan will be made through that community lender and you will continue to work with them throughout the life of your loan.

CDFIs are certified by the U.S. Treasury Department to deliver responsible, affordable lending to help low-income, rural, and other historically disadvantaged people and communities.

Loan Terms

Qualifying small businesses and nonprofit organizations can get loans up to three months of pre-Covid revenue, with a maximum loan size of $100,000.

The loans will need to be paid back over a 5- or 6-year term with a fixed annual interest rate of 4.0 – 4.5% for businesses and 3.0 – 3.5% for nonprofits. The first twelve months of payments will be interest-only, with fixed monthly payments thereafter.

Please note, this program is not associated with the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or any other Small Business Administration program. The loans are not forgivable in part or whole.

Participating Community Lenders

There are 13 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) participating in the SOAR Fund. CDFIs are mission-driven community lenders certified by the U.S. Treasury Department to serve small businesses that are typically unable to access credit from traditional banks.

Resources

If you are interested in working with a local business advisor or need help applying for a loan, the following online resources can help you identify a local business support organization.

Mentions

South Carolina Business News

03/03/2021

Economic recovery loan program to assist 15 states

Biz New Orleans

03/03/2021

Community Lenders Announce Fund to Support Small Businesses, Nonprofits

ImpactAlpha

03/03/2021

Southern Opportunity and Resilience Fund to back small businesses in COVID recovery

Southwest Florida Business Today

03/08/2021

National and Local Community Lenders Announce Multi-Million Dollar Fund to Support Small Business and Nonprofit Recovery Across the South

Orlando Sentinel

03/26/2021

Small Southern businesses need our help to rebuild after pandemic

Philanthropy News Digest

03/03/2021

Supporting the South’s small businesses is supporting an equitable recovery

ImpactAlpha

03/30/2021

Georgia is throttling voters. The South’s financial system is doing the same to its entrepreneurs

Univision NC

04/09/2021

Programa SOAR ayuda a microempresarios en 15 estados, incluido Carolina del Norte

Scripps National

04/12/2021

Efforts to increase lending to small businesses in the south

FAQs

The Southern Opportunity And Resilience (SOAR) Fund is a broad collaboration to support small businesses and nonprofits as they recover from the effects of COVID-19. The SOAR Fund was created by community lenders in the Southern and Southeastern United States to provide economic recovery loans and free business assistance to small businesses and nonprofits at a time when they are facing unprecedented health and economic challenges.  The loans are designed to reach the smallest of small businesses and nonprofits – those with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees – and historically underserved businesses, including those in low-income and rural communities and businesses owned by women and people of color.  These businesses are critical to providing jobs and resources to communities across the South and Southeast through this recovery.

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 as they attempt to navigate and rebuild after the unprecedented COVID-19 health and economic crisis.  The Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) industry has operated for more than 40 years to serve these businesses and nonprofits with capital and advisory services. CDFIs are built for purpose – they exist to meet the unique needs of historically underserved communities.

Loans will be made available through local CDFI lenders; currently there are thirteen participating lenders, including:

  • Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE)
  • Accion Opportunity Fund
  • Ascendus
  • Black Business Investment Fund Florida (BBIF)
  • Business & Community Lenders of Texas (BCL Texas)
  • Communities Unlimited
  • LiftFund
  • National Development Council (NDC)
  • Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIFund)
  • Pathway Lending
  • People Fund
  • Southern Bancorp Community Partners
  • TruFund Financial Services

The fund is aimed at helping small businesses across the South and Southeast.  The program will be available to small businesses and nonprofits in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, DC and West Virginia.

The pre-application will open at 10am on April 27, 2021 and will stay open for the foreseeable future.          

Participating community lenders will begin reviewing pre-applications shortly thereafter, but due to high expected volumes, it may take a few weeks for you to be contacted by a community lender.

The SOAR fund aims to raise $150 million to provide affordable capital and free business support to small businesses and nonprofits across the South and Southeast.     

Maximum loan amounts for an individual business or nonprofit are $100,000.

The Fund is aimed at helping small businesses and nonprofits across the South and Southeast.

To qualify, small businesses must employ 50 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, have realized gross revenues of less than $5 million per year, and must have experienced a direct economic disruption as a result of COVID-19.

Nonprofits must employ 50 or fewer full-time (FTE) employees, be a 501(c)(3) or faith-based organization providing direct services, have an annual operating budget of less than $5 million and have suffered a direct economic hardship as a result of COVID-19 in a way that materially impacts their operations.     

There will be a particular focus on reaching under-resourced and under-banked communities, including businesses and organizations in low- income areas, rural communities, and businesses owned by women and people of color.

Please note that this website, nor any of its pages constitute an offer or a commitment to lend. All rates and loan terms may be subject to change. All loans are subject to underwriting review and approval by participating community lenders, who are responsible for their own credit decisions. Due to a limited amount of funding availability and the high volume of applications expected, it is anticipated that not all eligible applicants will be able to receive a loan.

Free local support can be found through a number of organizations.

  • Venturize will allow you to find a free local small business resource center based on your zip code.
  • Winrock will provide technical assistance to businesses in seven South and Southeastern states.
  • Small Business Development Centers are also available to work with you one on one as you navigate this period of economic uncertainty and consider accessing a loan.

The SOAR Fund pre-application will open on April 27, 2021. All applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, with a target of 2-3 weeks from when a loan application is submitted to a CDFI to closing, depending on how quickly the lender receives a full completed application and the relevant documents. 

To facilitate a timely processing of your loan application, please prepare the required information and documentation in advance and make sure that all information and documentation are complete and accurate. 

The maximum loan amount available under this program is $100,000.

For small businesses, loans are available to you in an amount of either $100,000 or up to 100% of your business’ revenues in any 3-month period from 2019 or first quarter of 2020, whichever is less. 

For nonprofits, loans are available to you in an amount of either $100,000 or up to 100% of your organization’s expenses in any 3-month period from 2019 or first quarter of 2020, whichever is less. 

Please note that the actual size of the loan for which you may be approved will be determined by the lender after review of your business’s documentation and financial information; the amount of the loan for which you may be ultimately approved may be less than the amount indicated by the example above.

The current fixed annual interest rate for loans issued under the program are:

  • 4.00% for for-profit businesses and 3.00% for non-profit organizations for a 60-month term
  • 4.50% for for-profit businesses and 3.50% for non-profit organizations for a 72-month term

Proceeds can be used for working capital, inventory, marketing, refitting for new social distancing guidelines, operating and emergency maintenance, property taxes, utilities, rent, supplies, and other appropriate business purposes.

You will be required to detail the proposed use of loan proceeds when you apply to the community lender.

Businesses engaged in certain activities are not eligible (please see question below “What types of businesses are not eligible for a loan?“). Participating community lenders are responsible for making their own credit decisions.

Due to a limited amount of funding availability and the high volume of applications expected, it is anticipated that not all eligible applicants will be able to receive a loan.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and will be managed taking into consideration the program’s goals.

Yes.  The main office or headquarters for your business must be located in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia or Washington, DC to be eligible.

As part of your full loan application, you will need to provide the following documentation to the community lender:

  • Most recently filed tax returns, if available and required by the lender;
  • Bank statements and/or internally generated financial statements;
  • Information regarding business owner(s) with more than 20% ownership, including name, address, SSN, EIN or ITIN, phone number, email, percentage ownership, and photo ID;
  • Executed Attestation Form (to be provided by the community lender);
  • Brief description of COVID-19 impacts on your business or organization;
  • Evidence of legal formation of business or nonprofit entity (e.g., articles of incorporation and bylaws);
  • Personal guarantee (for businesses only); and
  • Other documentation required by the community lender at or after the time of the application

A participating community lender will reach out to you to collect the required documentation, conduct any credit checks, and finalize the application review process.

Businesses that are NOT eligible include, but are not limited to:

  • Firms engaged in activities that are prohibited by federal law or applicable law in the jurisdiction where the business is located or conducted
  • Corporate-owned franchises
  • Branch banks
  • Pay day loan stores
  • Pawn shops
  • Astrology, palm reading
  • Adult bookstores, strip clubs
  • Track waging facilities

No specific collateral is required to be eligible (e.g., you do not need to have access to any specific real estate or equipment). A blanket first or second lien may be filed on business assets, at the discretion of the originating CDFI. Personal guarantees will be required for individuals who own 20% or more of a business.

The SOAR Fund’s online loan process is highly secure. SOAR’s platform goes above and beyond to protect your sensitive information. The platform uses TDE (Transparent Data Encryption) in SQL (Structured Query Language), which means the data is encrypted at rest. It also encrypts the data between the app server and the database and uses TLS (Transport Layer Security), which protects communications on the internet, for form submissions. 

Your information will be used by SOAR solely for the purposes of the loan program.  Among other things, this means that your information may be used in connection with a sale or transfer of your loan, or other transactions involving the loan.  We may also follow-up with loan recipients to learn about their customer experience or through customer satisfaction surveys.  If an applicant does not receive a loan, we may retain information on file to notify you about changes in eligibility or new products offered.

The fees vary by lender and will be disclosed when you match with a community lender. All lenders will charge an origination fee of up to 4% of principal or a minimum of $1,000. There are also minimal third-party fees that may be added to your loan balance and will be determined by the CDFI lender. You will be apprised of any fees associated with the loan prior to accepting the terms of any loan.

If each business is a separate legal entity, has a separate tax ID and all businesses combined employ 50 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, then you can apply for each of the businesses.  Each business must meet all eligibility requirements.

Yes, you can apply to another participating community lender if you match with multiple participating lenders.  HOWEVER, please be aware that the approval parameters for the participating lenders are largely identical.  Moreover, we ask that you do not apply to a second community lender unless your loan has been rejected by the first lender.

NO, THIS IS NOT A FORGIVABLE LOAN. Please note, this program is not associated with the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or any other SBA program. The borrower will need to pay back the full amount of the loan with interest over a 5- or 6-year term.

If you do not make a loan payment on time, you may be assessed a late fee by the participating lender per its applicable policies.  A failure to pay also can result in the loan being declared in default and the lender’s exercise of its default remedies under the loan documents. Please review the full terms of your loan agreement for additional details regarding default.