In the midst of Black History Month, Bank of Montreal (BMO) has committed $100 million to launch a lending program for Black entrepreneurs.
Black entrepreneurs can receive loans of up to $250,000, which can be used for capital investments such as equipment and leasehold improvements, working capital (inventory, payroll, lease payments, etc.), and short-term receivable financing.
To support the new program, BMO partnered with the Black Opportunity Fund (BOF), a community-led organization dedicated to removing financial barriers for Black-led businesses. The partnership will provide educational programming to Black business owners in key areas such as business planning, financial management, sales, marketing, and budgeting.
“Every business owner deserves access to the financial support they need for their business to make real financial progress, now and in the future,” said Mike Bonner, Head, Canadian Business Banking at BMO. “Business Within Reach: BMO for Black Entrepreneurs increases access to capital and networks that break down barriers to inclusion.”
The program builds on the bank’s launch of BMO EMpower in 2020, a five-year commitment with a $5 billion USD pledge to address barriers faced by minority businesses, communities and families in the United States.
The Government of Canada also started the Black Entrepreneurship Program in 2020 after pressure from Black business organizations for governments to take concrete steps to reduce systemic racism in Canada.
Canadian banks have been talking about improving service for Black customers over the last couple of years.
In July 2020, just a month after the peak of Black Lives Matters protests following the death of George Floyd, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) also made a five-year commitment of $100 million to fund small business loans of up to $250,000 to Black entrepreneurs.
RBC also launched the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program in March last year as a funding collaboration with Futurpreneur Canada. As part of this initiative, RBC committed up to $40 million over five years to help young Black entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 to 39 to start and grow their businesses.
Featured image from WOCinTech via Nappy