BMO launched BMO for Native-owned businesses as part of its five-year, $5 billion BMO EMpower initiative aimed at supporting an inclusive economic recovery for minority businesses, communities and families through lending, investing, giving and engagement in local communities. The program, launched on National Indigenous Peoples Day, expands the bank’s investment in small business lending to increase resources for women-, Black- and Latinx-owned businesses to include Native American-owned businesses.

BMO for Native-owned businesses offers greater access to working capital, meaningful networking opportunities, educational tools and resources to start up, scale and grow. Included is the bank’s new specialized credit-lending product that provides expanded credit criteria and competitive interest rates for customers.

Native CDFI Network (NCN), an organization that helps Native American Communities thrive and grow by increasing their access to capital and financial services, is partnering with BMO to launch the program. The partnership will expand funding and resources to Native American Communities across BMO’s footprint.

“At the heart of Native CDFI Network’s (NCN) work is economic justice for Native people through access to capital and basic financial services. This newly formed partnership between NCN and BMO will more directly connect small business owners with Native CDFIs and, in turn, strengthen financial inclusion of Native people,” Pete Upton, interim CEO of Native CDFI Network, said. “NCN looks forward to launching and – over time – expanding this partnership to grow NCN’s ability to provide technical assistance to its Native CDFI members.”

Through the program, Native American business owners and entrepreneurs can receive loans of up to $50,000. These loans can be used for capital investments such as equipment, inventory, payroll and lease payments – and short-term receivable financing.

To be eligible for the lending program, businesses must have a physical operating location or headquarters in BMO’s retail banking markets, an annual revenue of $10 million or less and be 51%owned or controlled by individuals who self-identify as Native American.

“With the launch of BMO for Native-owned businesses, we are breaking down historical financial barriers to create a more inclusive business environment. Every business owner deserves access to funding that helps their business grow and make real financial progress,” Niamh Kristufek, head of U.S. business banking at BMO, said. “Many underserved and marginalized communities struggle to access capital and we’re proud that BMO’s new program will create more economic opportunities for Native American-owned businesses.”

Specifically, BMO for Native-owned businesses includes:

  • Greater access to capital: Business owners receive significant access to working capital with expanded credit criteria and competitive interest rates. Small businesses can get a revolving line of credit, and/or business credit card that will allow them to only pay interest on the amount borrowed. They can also qualify for rate discounts when setting up automatic payments from a BMO business checking account and get improved access to funding with specialized lending criteria.
  • Access to Education: Free access to practical tools such as business plan templates, profit improvement calculators, videos, podcasts, webinars and coaching are available to help business owners make Real Financial Progress.
  • Access to Partnerships: BMO is continually forming new partnerships with organizations to give business owners access to meaningful networks, additional coaching and educational resources and alternative funding sources. Current partners that support Native-owned businesses include Native CDFI Network, Allies for Community Business, IHCC and Chicago Urban League.