SOAR - Accion Opportunity Fund

Southern Opportunity and Resilience (SOAR) Fund

For small businesses across the south and southeast who were in business prior to September 2019 and experienced economic hardship as a result of COVID-19. Learn more about the program we offer through our partner Connect2Capital and see if your business may be eligible.

The Southern Opportunity And Resilience (SOAR) Fund provides affordable capital and free business support services to small businesses across the South at a subsidized rate of 4% for loans up to $100,000.¹

SOAR is for small businesses across the South and Southeast that were in business before September 2019 and experienced economic hardship due to COVID-19. Learn more about the program we offer through our partner Connect2Capital and see if your business may be eligible.

Business Qualifications

  • Qualifying businesses must be located in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, or the District of Columbia/Washington, D.C. (Tennessee and Kentucky-based businesses are not eligible at this time; Accion Opportunity Fund does not lend in West Virginia but other SOAR lenders do.)
  • Businesses that employ 50 or fewer full-time employees
  • Businesses that have been in operation since September 2019

Scroll to the bottom of the page for more detailed eligibility criteria.

Apply for the Soar Fund

  1. Complete the questionnaire below. Filling out the form should take less than 10 minutes and will not affect your credit score.
  2. In a few days, you will receive an email with a link to upload your documents and complete the application.
  3. You’ll receive your approval and the funds in two to three weeks. 

Please note that this is the only way that you can apply for our SOAR program at the moment. Questions? Please call (866) 908-5670 or email soar@aofund.org.

 

Eligibility details

Qualifying businesses must be located in these southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, or the District of Columbia. (Accion Opportunity Fund does not lend in West Virginia, but other SOAR lenders do.)

To be eligible for a SOAR Fund loan, a small business must meet the requirements below. Please note that the application should be completed and submitted by the business owner with the largest ownership interest. Anyone with more than 20% ownership in the business — whether a CEO, president, managing director, or another role — will also be required to attest to the information provided.

The following criteria are the minimum required for a business to be considered eligible for a loan under this program:

  • The business must employ 50 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees
  • The business must have suffered a direct economic disruption as a result of COVID-19 in a way that has materially impacted operations
  • The business must have been in operation since at least September 2019 unless the business is a for-profit business and meets one of the following additional criteria:
    • The business can demonstrate three or more years of operating experience in the industry through previous ownership or management
    • The business has previously borrowed from the community lender and has had no repayment issues
    •  

      INELIGIBLE BUSINESSES

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

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

       

      FAQS

      WHAT ARE THE INTEREST RATES ON SOAR FUND LOANS?

      A SOAR Fund loan is a small business loan made through a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). These loans must be paid back over a 5-year term. The first twelve months of payments are interest-only, with fixed monthly payments thereafter. That means that for the first 12 months, you’ll be making monthly payments only on the interest that accrues. For the remaining loan term, your payments will include both the principal and interest.

      The current fixed annual interest rate for loans issued under the program are 4% for for-profit businesses for a 60-month term.

      There is an additional loan origination fee that is the greater of
      (1) 4% of principal or
      (2) a $1,000 minimum fee

      There may also be minimum third-party fees added to the loan balance to cover any costs associated with the loan. All fees and expenses related to the loan will be clearly disclosed in writing prior to your acceptance of any loan terms.
       

      WHAT IS THE TIMELINE FOR ACCESS TO LOANS?

      The SOAR Fund aims to assess and close all loan applications within 2 to 3 weeks of submission. All applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis. Providing a fully completed application as well as the relevant documents will help ensure the timely processing of your application. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

      To speed up the loan process, please include the following information:

      • Evidence of legal formation of your business, such as articles of incorporation and bylaws
      • Information regarding any business owners with more than 20% ownership, including name, address, SSN, EIN or ITIN, phone number, email, percentage ownership, and photo ID
      • Most recently filed tax returns
      • Bank and other financial statements
      • A brief summary of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your business or organization
      • For businesses only: a personal guarantee

WHAT CAN I USE MY LOAN FOR?

The SOAR Fund aims to help small business owners across the South and Southeast. It has a particular focus on reaching under-resourced and underfunded communities. This includes businesses and organizations in low-income areas and rural communities, as well as businesses owned by women, people of color, and other minorities.

The maximum available loan amount is $100,000 or up to 100% of your business revenues for any three-month period prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in 2019 or the first quarter of 2020, whichever is less.

The loan can be used for:

  • Working capital
  • Inventory and supplies
  • Marketing and outreach
  • Refitting for new social distancing guidelines
  • Operating and emergency maintenance
  • Property taxes
  • Rent and utilities
  • Any other appropriate business purposes

You will need to share your intended use for the loan when you apply.
 

IF I OWN MULTIPLE SMALL BUSINESSES, CAN I APPLY FOR A LOAN FOR EACH BUSINESS?

Yes, but only if each business is a separate legal entity and has a separate tax ID. Combined, the businesses must employ 50 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees. Each business must separately meet all the eligibility requirements and must have suffered material and direct economic disruptions as a result of COVID-19.
 

DO I NEED COLLATERAL FOR A SOAR FUND LOAN?

Your business does not need any specific collateral to be eligible for a SOAR Fund loan. That means you do not need to have access to real estate or equipment to apply. However, a blanket first or second lien may be filed on business assets. Individuals who own 20% or more of a business will also be required to give a personal guarantee.

While there is no minimum credit score required for this program, lenders will apply other credit criteria to evaluate your loan application. This may include an evaluation of the following:

  • Your business’s ability to pay back the loan in full
  • Your ability to make debt repayments
  • Your business’s financial history, especially concerning bankruptcy, delinquency, foreclosure, and repossession
  • Any outstanding tax liens judgments against the business

IS A SOAR FUND LOAN FORGIVABLE?

The SOAR Fund loan is not forgivable, in part or in whole.

Please note that this program is not associated with the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or any other Small Business Administration program. You will be required to pay back the full loan amount with interest over a 5-year term.

Borrowers who do not make loan payments on time may be required to pay late fees according to the terms of the loan agreement. If borrowers fail to pay on time, the loan may be declared in default.
 

WHAT IS THE SOAR FUND?

The Southern Opportunity and Resilience Fund, or SOAR Fund, is a collaboration of community lenders in the South. The fund is currently managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). SOAR’s goal is to support small businesses and see them through an equitable recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its loans are designed to help historically underserved communities and regions that are disproportionately affected by the economic crisis. This includes low-income and rural areas as well as businesses owned by women and people of color.

SOAR makes available loans of up to $100,000. It does this through 13 local Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs, including:

WHAT IS ACCION OPPORTUNITY FUND?

Accion Opportunity Fund is one of the SOAR Fund’s participating lenders. As part of our mission to support small business initiatives in a way that advances racial, gender, and economic justice for all, we’re providing SOAR Fund loans to eligible business owners.

Our client base is over 90% women, people of color, or low-to-moderate income individuals. Our clients’ businesses have historically had a 96% survival rate, a significant improvement over the national small-business survival rate of 50%.

Our loan products and programs each have different eligibility requirements, pricing, fees, and terms so that we can cater to the needs of individual businesses and communities.

In our mission to help as many underfunded small businesses as possible, we offer a variety of funding opportunities¹ through our partners. Each of our loan products and programs has different eligibility requirements, pricing, fees, and terms.