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Small businesses, nonprofits can apply for SOAR Fund 

Small business owners and nonprofits across West Virginia can apply for low-interest loans of up to $100,000 and free business support through the Southern Opportunity and Resilience Fund — a new program created by a diverse group of community lenders aimed at helping small businesses and nonprofits navigate and rebuild from the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau Small Business Pulse Survey, 52% of West Virginia small businesses have less than two months cash on hand, and 25% of small businesses in the state expect to seek capital in the next six months.

The SOAR Fund is launching with more than $50 million in initial commitments — provided by philanthropic, private and corporate investors — and aims to eventually lend $150 million or more to small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees in 15 southern and southeastern states, including West Virginia.

The loans are designed to reach the smallest of small businesses and those that have been historically under-banked, including those in rural areas and those owned by women, people of color and immigrants.

The fund works with and through local community development financial institutions, which have been serving the types of un- and under-invested businesses the SOAR Fund aims to help for decades.

“We are thrilled to participate in the SOAR initiative, which aligns well with our long-held mission to provide access to capital in under-served communities,” said Daniel Marsh, president and CEO of the National Development Council, which serves small businesses across West Virginia. “As a small business lender and provider of PPP loans, we know how challenging it can be to reach communities of color, but our track record shows it can be done. And SOAR is another significant pathway to helping small businesses get back on their feet and thriving again.” 

Eligible applicants will be matched with a participating lender that will assist the business owner with the application and provide advisory support. Applicants will be able to sign up online and get matched to a lender in less than five minutes.

Thirteen CDFIs are originating loans purchased by the fund, including Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, 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.

The CDFIs are 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 help with outreach, education, and hands-on business advisory services. Calvert Impact Capital is arranging, and LISC Fund Management is managing the fund.

“NCIFund will use SOAR to reach more entrepreneurs of color and women and underserved communities across Central Appalachia and the Southeast,” said Marten Jenkins, CEO of NCIFund, one of the CDFIs lending across West Virginia.  

The SOAR Fund covers: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

For more information and to apply, visit

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