Each year, we conduct our annual demand survey in order to better understand community development in South Carolina. We work to understand the scope of demand for community development capital, as well as the barriers borrowers face while working to bring their projects to market. Respondents’ willingness to share their experiences with us have provided valuable insight into what barriers exist, why they are able to persist, and how SCCLF can be the catalyst for change by helping to remove some barriers. What our community continues to teach us could fill a book, but we wanted to share the five main takeaways we’ve learned this year.
- The majority of community development projects are not adequately financed.
- The most common reasons for the financing gap were: startup status, insufficient equity, and not knowing how to apply for financing.
- The barriers encountered by respondents are the result of generations of systemic, compounding inequities.
For many successfully launched startup organizations, having social capital or the ability to tap into a network of friends and family, helps to bridge the equity gap. But for too many in South Carolina, those networks are simply unavailable. A lack of generational wealth and transferrable assets creates a persistent equity gap. Knowledge and technical skills needed to access financing are also an asset all too often overlooked, or nonexistent because of a persistent lack of investment in education. These barriers become entrenched through generations of continued disinvestment.
- Access to technical assistance services helps bridge the knowledge and skill gaps.
In this year’s survey, 57% of respondents who successfully financed their community development project reported accessing technical assistance services before or during the application process. Whether it is simply demystifying the application or financing process, creating networking opportunities to build relational capital, or providing support through business skill development programs, we know that these services are a critical component of the work we are doing to build a more equitable and economically vibrant South Carolina.
- The barriers to financing community development projects are persistent and compounding, making the need for capital investment urgent.
The pace of meaningful, lasting change in our communities can often feel slow, particularly in confronting the systems and structures of inequity in place for decades. This means the time for capital investment is now- if the next generation is to have the freedom of more equitable access to capital, we must work to remove the barriers to capital access today.
This demand survey helps guide SCCLF’s efforts to meet our mission and invest in communities across South Carolina. Thank you for sharing your experiences through the survey! Your input is valuable and truly appreciated. To learn more about SCCLF’s technical assistance services, visit our Technical Assistance page or learn more about our lending services here.