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BMO Expands Minority Small Business Lending with Launch of U.S. Native-owned Business Program
  • Program will increase access to working capital, educational resources, meaningful partnerships and tools for Native American-owned small businesses
  • Native American partners can receive loans of up to $50,000 for equipment, inventory, payroll, lease payments and short-term receivable financing
  • Native CDFI Network has been named the program's partner  

CHICAGO, Oct. 11, 2022 /PRNewswire/ - BMO today 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," said Pete Upton, Interim CEO, Native CDFI Network. "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 percent 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," said Niamh Kristufek, Head, U.S. Business Banking, BMO. "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.

The program aligns with BMO's Purpose to Boldly Grow the Good, in Business and Life, which included a commitment to double the bank's support for small business and women entrepreneurs when launched in 2019. It also supports Zero Barriers to Inclusion 2025, BMO's multi-year strategy that supports equity, equality and inclusion inside and outside BMO's doors.

BMO's partnership with Native CDFI in the United States is also aligned with similar initiatives in Canada, such as BMO's eLearning course that provides an introduction to Indigenous perspectives in Canada called Nisitohtamowin ᓂᓯᑐᐦᑕᒧᐃᐧᐣ, the bank's Indigenous partnerships and progress report in Canada known as Wîcihitowin ᐑᒋᐦᐃᑐᐏᐣ, and BMO's Indigenous Advisory Council – all bold commitments to Indigenous customers, colleagues and communities. The bank also recently announced its goal to double its Indigenous Banking business in Canada from $4 billion to $8 billion.

For more information on BMO for Native-owned Businesses, please visit

About BMO EMpower

BMO EMpower is our $5 billion commitment over five years to address key barriers faced by minority businesses, communities and families in the United States. Through lending, investing, giving and engagement in our local communities, we are tackling barriers to inclusion in the financial services industry to create more opportunity for recovery and success.

More information on the BMO EMpower goals, as well as links to how to participate in the minority-owned business programs detailed above, can be found on the BMO EMpower webpage:

About BMO Financial Group

Serving customers for 200 years and counting, BMO is a highly diversified financial services provider - the 8th largest bank, by assets, in North America. With total assets of $1.07 trillion as of July 31, 2022, and a team of diverse and highly engaged employees, BMO provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers and conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Commercial Banking, BMO Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.

About Native CDFI Network

The Native CDFI Network was formed in 2009 to unify Native CDFIs serving Native trust land communities, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. The Native CDFI Network seeks to create opportunities to share our stories, identify our collective priorities, and strengthen our industry. In addition, the Native CDFI Network works to ensure that Native peoples are represented in the national policy dialogue and innovative solutions created by CDFIs are spread throughout our Native communities. As a strong national network, the Native CDFI Network empowers its members to engage our best ideas, connect to one another, and collectively advance policy priorities that foster systemic and sustainable Native community and economic development.


1. Nisitohtamowin ᓂᓯᑐᐦᑕᒧᐃᐧᐣ (pronounced: nis-toh-tum-win) is an interactive eLearning initiative between BMO and First Nations University of Canada that introduces participants to the fundamentals of Indigenous history in Canada:

2. Wîcihitowin ᐑᒋᐦᐃᑐᐏᐣ is the annual BMO Indigenous Partnerships and Progress Report in Canada that highlights the bank's engagement with and commitment to Indigenous communities in Canada: 

3. BMO's Indigenous Advisory Council provides guidance and input to BMO across three pillars: education, employment and economic empowerment:

4. BMO supports Indigenous communities with more than $13 million in pledges and contributions to areas including education, healthcare, and more. It is the only bank to have received Gold level Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) certification by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) six consecutive times.

5. BMO has set a goal to double its Indigenous Banking business in Canada from $4B to $8B. It now stands at more than $6.4 billion in support of residential programs, infrastructure builds, economic development, green/sustainable development projects and more.


SOURCE BMO Financial Group