The Bank Of Montreal (BMO) has announced it will commit $78 million in financing to Black-owned businesses through a program called Business Within Reach.
According to a BMO release, under the program, Black business owners and entrepreneurs can receive loans of up $196,000. The bank is also partnering with the Black Opportunity Fund to provide financial education in planning, management, and marketing.
“Every business owner deserves access to the financial support they need for their business to make real financial progress, now and in the future,” Mike Bonner, Head, Canadian Business Banking, BMO Bank of Montreal, said in the release.
“Business Within Reach: BMO for Black Entrepreneurs increases access to capital and networks that break down barriers to inclusion. We are proud to be a catalyst for an inclusive recovery from a pandemic that has hit minority-owned businesses particularly hard.”
According to Bloomberg News, BMO has set targets of increasing the number of Black employees in senior leadership roles to 3.5% in Canada and 7% in the U.S. and boosting Black and Latino interns and entry-level employees to 30% in the U.S. and ensuring 40% of its student opportunities in Canada are directed toward BIPOC students.
“Black entrepreneurs face inequitable access to capital, which inhibits their ability to build and scale businesses,” Stanley Julien, Head, Special Accounts Management Unit – Canada, BMO Financial Group, said. “We believe this program’s funding and resources will enable Black business owners to expand operations and enhance the opportunity to participate in Canada’s economic growth.”
Other banks that have pledged millions to Black businesses and financial programs include Citi, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase. Many banks pledged to help Black businesses in the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter movement and conversations around social equity in 2020.
In addition to loans and financial education courses, the banks are also offering HBCU financial literacy programs, scholarships, and internships.