BMO Expands Zero Barriers to Business Program to 22 States
BMO has expanded one of its programs for minority small business owners.
About the program:
This week, BMO announced that its Zero Barriers to Business program had expanded. The program seeks to provide inclusive banking products to historically underserved groups, including Black, Latino, Native, and Women-owned businesses. Moreover, Zero Barriers to Business is part of the larger MBO EMpower 2.0 initiative.
Originally launched in December 2020 with pilot programs in Illinois and northwest Indiana, today, Zero Barries to Business is available to business owners in 22 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The program not only provides entrepreneurs with better access to capital but also offers access to educational materials, as well as partnerships with various groups that can further help businesses network, gain coaching, and more.
In terms of capital access, BMO’s site notes that program participants can get a line of credit for up to $50,000 and earn a 0.25% rate discount when setting up automatic payments from a BMO Business Checking account. Additionally, the bank offers “expanded credit criteria” to help entrepreneurs gain the working capital their businesses need.
According to BMO, the program has seen $80 million in small business loan approvals to date, funding more than 3,400 businesses. Furthermore, the bank states that the program has also provided more than 800 hours of educational workshops/webinars.
In addition to the expansion news, BMO also announced that it had committed $500,000 to support the creation of the Latino Business Loan Program in partnership with the Colorado Enterprise Fund.
What they’re saying:
Regarding the Zero Barriers to Business program and its expansion, BMO’s Head of U.S. Business Banking Niamh Kristufek said, “Helping our clients, colleagues and communities make real financial progress is at the core of our Purpose, to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life. The launch of BMO’s Zero Barriers to Business to our expanded footprint brings us one step closer to a more inclusive society – especially for groups facing systemic barriers – by ensuring our clients have access to capital and financial tools and education.”
Meanwhile, commenting on the Latino Business Loan Program partnership, Colorado Enterprise Fund CEO Ceyl Prinster said, “Colorado Enterprise Fund’s mission has always been to provide access to capital to underserved communities including minority-owned small businesses. With the funding from BMO, CEF will focus even more economic and educational resources toward Latino small business entrepreneurs throughout Colorado.”
Following a very modest rollout that began nearly three years ago, it’s great to see that the Zero Barriers to Business program has significantly expanded. Of course, while 22 states is a strong start, hopefully it won’t be long before that list grows even longer. In the meantime, interested small business owners can find more info on BMO’s site.