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Bank of Montreal catches the gender-lens bug

ImpactAlpha, June 25 – Canada has put women’s opportunity and equality in the center of its international aid budget and G7 presidency.

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.

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