The SOAR fund supports small businesses hit by the pandemic – Orange Leader


By Roz Brown

Texas Press Service

HOUSTON, Texas – Minority-owned businesses in the South are benefiting from a program designed to help them get back on their feet after the pandemic.
The Opportunity and resilience of the South (SOAR) Fund, helps businesses and non-profit organizations to rebuild themselves.
Chandon Gordon is the owner of GFN Hippy in Houston, a small business that coordinates accommodation for mobile nurses. When the need for housing exploded at the start of the pandemic, Gordon was able to provide and rent housing to mobile nurses with a low-interest loan from the Resilience Fund after being denied credit from traditional sources.
“And they really got to look inside our organization and say, ‘You deserve it, you need it, this will help you, and we want to see your business grow,” ”said Gordon.
Gordon explained that GFN Hippy also used the loan to cover payroll and buy laptops.
As of mid-November, $ 11 million had been distributed from the Resilience Fund in 14 states to nearly 250 small businesses whose owners identify as a woman or a person of color.
Caroline Yarbrough, chief strategy officer at Calvert Impact Capital, the arranger of the SOAR fund, said most companies receiving help were at risk of being left behind.
“Almost 90% of SOAR fund loans to date have gone to companies with 10 or fewer full-time employees,” Yarbrough said. “Help them retool, understand how to rebuild and function in the new reality. “
As a minority LGBTQ business owner, Gordon said it’s important to provide certified and registered itinerant nurses with a safe place to stay.
“They are really looking for a safe and comfortable place to stay,” said Gordon. “We go to great lengths to make sure that our units are no more than about 15 minutes from Texas Medical Center and that they can really get to know the city of Houston.”
Small businesses supported include restaurants, childcare centers, health service providers, local produce farms, building contractors, and retail stores.


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