Agents of Impact | March 4, 2022

Sandra Moore, Advantage Capital: Bringing capital to entrepreneurs of color

Roodgally Senatus

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Roodgally Senatus

ImpactAlpha, March 4 — New Orleans-based Advantage Capital seeks out businesses in underserved communities, in part because that’s where subsidies are available under programs such as New Markets Tax Credits, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Investment Program.

Since 1992, Advantage has deployed $3.8 billion to more than 800 small businesses in dozens of U.S. states, including Missouri, Mississippi, Arkansas, Nebraska and Ohio.

Moore is the firm’s chief impact officer and its only Black woman partner. Following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, Moore pushed the firm to adopt an explicit racial lens. “I knew we needed to continue to deploy capital to businesses in capital-starved markets, but with a laser focus on supporting minority-owned businesses, to provide them with flexible financing solutions to support growth and create wealth and minority communities,” she told ImpactAlpha.

Moore says she tapped her inner social scientist when she joined Advantage in 2017, after spending 16 years on the firm’s board. She had been president of Urban Strategies, a national nonprofit housing developer, a member of the late Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan’s cabinet and an administrative judge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

At Advantage, Moore built out an impact team and infused an impact perspective in the firm’s investment committee, due diligence and deal structuring. Moore secured commitments from U.S. Bank, Truist Bank, Midwest Bank and Southern Bancorp for the Empower the Change Fund, a planned $200 million initiative to back dozens of ‘growth-ready’ Black and brown-led businesses in overlooked markets across the U.S.

“I told the team we needed to go out of the box with a group of partners that would catch the investing and impact communities’ attention,” she says. The game plan is to help entrepreneurs of color scale their businesses and create good jobs in their communities. “We’re talking about investing in companies that, with our investment capital and support, will intentionally look to grow the wage base.”