At home, the Bank of Montreal is doubling down on women—specifically those who own their own businesses. The bank—the fourth largest in Canada—is committing to lending C$3 billion ($2.3 billion) to women-owned Canadian businesses over the next three years. In 2014, the bank allocated C$2 billion in credit for women entrepreneurs.
- Canadian context… A recent study from the Bank of Montreal, Carleton University and The Beacon Agency, an Ontario-based consulting firm, found that although 50% of new Canadian businesses are women-led, a host of factors negatively impact female entrepreneurs’ success, including lack of mentorship and accelerator opportunities, difficulty accessing financing, and blatant sexism.
- Unconscious bias… “impacts women entrepreneurs in obtaining funding from financial institutions and investors and in advancing their business,” the report states. Women over 39-years-old have a particularly hard time securing business loans. Many report having to bring a male family member or colleague to bank meetings with them.
- Gender-lens… Last week, Goldman Sachs committed $500 million to women-led businesses.
To address some of the other ecosystem gaps, BMO’s lending initiative will be coupled with an online resource portal for women business owners and a workshop for female entrepreneurs in partnership with Start Up Canada.