BMO has committed to lending $100 million to Black entrepreneurs, making it the third Big-Six bank to announce this type of program in the past four months.
The Business Within Reach (BWR) program, announced Monday, offers loans of between $25,000 and $250,000 to businesses that are majority-owned by Black Canadians. Businesses must have annual revenues of less than $10 million.
As part of the BWR, the Black Opportunity Fund will “provide wrap-around educational programming to Black business owners in key areas such as business planning, financial management, sales, marketing and budgeting,” BMO stated in a release.
BMO did not share details about the BWR’s loan terms, but said in a statement that “a key component of the program includes the ongoing evolution of our approach to underwriting to help address [systemic] barriers” to accessing capital.
Royal Bank of Canada launched a loan program in October 2021 as part of a commitment to lend $100 million over five years to Black small-business owners, while CIBC launched a $15-million program earlier this month.
As was the case for RBC and CIBC, BMO’s program is separate from the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund announced in May 2021 by the federal government, to which all of the Big Six banks committed.
“We’ve determined that the best approach to fulfilling that commitment is to create a dedicated BMO program with our partner, the Black Opportunity Fund,” a BMO spokesperson said, adding that the BWR launch “delivers and expands on that initial commitment.”
The spokesperson said BMO continues to work with the federal government “to determine how we can support the objectives of the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund through this new program and other opportunities.”
Spokespeople for National Bank and Scotiabank said they did not have loan programs to announce at this time but they remain committed to supporting Black Canadians through community investments and partnerships.
Toronto-Dominion Bank declined to comment. In October 2021, TD launched a strategy aimed at improving the experiences of Black customers.
Research has shown that anti-Black systemic racism, particularly at banks, creates widespread financial barriers for Black Canadians.