Arkansas Community Foundation leads investor group with $1 million

 

Little Rock – Southern Bancorp Community Partners (SBCP), a 501(c)3 financial development and lending partner of Southern Bancorp, today announced it had crossed the $2.5 million mark in new capital to expand its lending. SBCP plans to raise a total of $5 million to expand its revolving loan fund to provide small business loans, microloans, mortgages and consumer loans in underserved communities in Arkansas and Mississippi.

“This fundraising milestone is a key component of Southern’s growth,” said Darrin Williams, CEO of Southern Bancorp, Inc. “SBCP’s loan fund will amplify the collective power that Southern Bancorp Bank and the holding company have to create economic opportunity in underserved communities. As Southern seeks to substantially increase its impact in underserved communities, the work of SBCP’s loan fund will play a key role in complementing the work of our bank with more flexible and innovative financial services.”

This capital raise is part of SBCP’s effort to expand its own capacity to fill the increasing credit, capital and financial education gaps that are holding back people and communities from reaching their full potential. It will provide sustainable and flexible lending options to individuals working to establish a stronger financial foundation in some of America’s most distressed communities.

“On behalf of the many hard working people across our markets, I’d like to extend my gratitude to our investors who share our belief that a zip code should not determine one’s economic opportunity in life,” said Dominik Mjartan, CEO of SBCP. “Because of the increase in regulatory hurdles for community banks, many people in our target markets are unable to access the financial capital they need to grow a small business, buy a house or otherwise build their economic independence – key factors in helping lift themselves and their communities out of poverty. Expansion of our revolving loan fund will provide that access and help build net worth to provide not just immediate, but generational, economic opportunity. We invite other investors who are seeking financial and social returns to join us and help us reach our $5 million goal.”

Led by Arkansas Community Foundation, with an investment of $1 million, this fund will provide the missing link for many individuals who have been shut out of traditional lending solutions due to increased regulations. As a lender facing fewer regulations than depository institutions, SBCP is allowed greater flexibility in making good loans that traditional lenders are unable to pursue, yet are desperately needed in rural communities.

“The kinds of loans SBCP will be making from this fund are perfectly aligned with the Community Foundation’s mission of building better communities and a better Arkansas,” said Heather Larkin, Arkansas Community Foundation president and CEO. “Traditionally we have focused on making grants to nonprofit organizations serving our state, but this partnership with SBCP gives us an exciting new way to use our assets to invest in Arkansas families and entrepreneurs working to create better lives for themselves.”

Other significant investments came from the Charles A. Frueauff Foundation, Mercy Investment Services’ Mercy Partnership Fund, Religious Communities Investment Fund, and the Delta Community Capital Initiative. To further increase its lending capacity, SBCP recently joined the Federal Home Loan Bank which means that the organization will now have access to funding for affordable housing in its target markets.

“The work of SBCP aligns with the Sisters of Mercy’s ongoing commitment to help those who are economically poor, especially women and children,” said Sarah B. Smith, Director of Mercy Partnership Fund. “We’re delighted to have this opportunity to help SBCP reach more people in Arkansas and Mississippi, regions where the Sisters of Mercy have a long history and continue to minister today.”

“Religious Communities Investment Fund (RCIF) is a collaborative ministry of 22 Catholic religious women’s congregations who believe that the economy is meant to serve all people, especially the most vulnerable among us,” said Sister Corinne Florek, RCIF Executive Director. “Partnering with SBCP enables us to expand our ministry of economic justice to rural communities in Arkansas.”

“This level of support shows a true interest in sustainable financial and economic development as a means of lifting up rural communities,” said Mjartan. “We look forward to joining with other similarly minded organizations as we continue our work, not just in the Delta, but throughout rural America.”

###

Southern Bancorp, Inc., a bank holding company; Southern Bancorp Community Partners, a development finance and lending organization; and Southern Bancorp Bank, one of America’s largest ruraldevelopment banks were founded in 1986 by then Governor Bill Clinton, Walmart Chair Rob Walton, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and others who were concerned about the economic decline of rural Arkansas. All three entities are U.S. Treasury certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) collectively known as “Southern.” With $1.1 billion in assets, 80,000 customers and 42 branches in Arkansas and Mississippi, Southern invests in people and businesses in rural communities; empowers them to improve their lives; and helps them transform their communities. On the web at www.banksouthern.com  & www.southernpartners.org.

Arkansas Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization that fosters smart giving to improve communities. The Community Foundation offers tools to help Arkansans protect, grow and direct their charitable dollars as they learn more about community needs. By making grants and sharing knowledge, the Community Foundation supports charitable programs that work for Arkansas and partners to create new initiatives that address the gaps.  Since 1976, the Community Foundation has provided more than $120 million in grants and partnered with thousands of Arkansans to help them improve our neighborhoods, our towns and our entire state. More information at www.arcf.org.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Nathan Pittman
nathan.pittman@banksouthern.com