On Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, BMO Harris Bank announced the 2021 recipients of its BMO Celebrating Women Grant Program. This BMO community program awarded grants to eight U.S. women-owned businesses for their contributions to social, environmental and economic sustainability, whether through their organizations’ policies, practices or products. This grant program aims to provide an additional source of financial aid to women-owned businesses.
Celebrating women’s entrepreneurship
The 2021 BMO Celebrating Women Grant Program U.S. recipients are below. Further information about each is included in the attached media packet:
- 360 Mind Body Soul, LLC – Chicago
- Compost Crusader LLC – St. Francis, Wisc.
- Majamas Earth – Oak Park, Ill.
- MaKee Company, LLC – St. Paul, Minn.
- Pretty Girls Are Educated – Milwaukee
- Sista Afya Community Mental Wellness – Chicago
- Spilt Milk Pastry – Oak Park, Ill.
- Wisconsin Health Insurance Advocate, LLC – Wauwatosa, Wisc.
“Congratulations to these bold entrepreneurs who are driving change and advancing sustainability in their communities through their businesses,” said Erminia (Ernie) Johannson, Group Head, North American Personal and Business Banking, BMO Financial Group. “Our commitment to removing barriers to women’s financial progress is at the heart of our BMO Celebrating Women programs and a driving force behind our Purpose to boldly grow the good in business and in life. Through lending, investing, giving and engagement in our local communities, our goal is to create more opportunity for recovery and success.”
The power of women’s entrepreneurship
Responses received from this year’s applicants demonstrated that women business owners are among the most active, resilient and resourceful groups of entrepreneurs driving sustainable development in the United States. The recipients overcame the pandemic’s challenges using creative and innovative ways of conducting business in an evolving environment.
BMO engaged the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub to conduct research on how the women business owners who applied for this year’s grants incorporate sustainability into their businesses. Highlights of this research show:
- Applicants implemented at least one sustainability initiative. Eighty percent of businesses practiced social sustainability. Sixty-five percent practiced economic sustainability. Fifty percent practiced environmental sustainability.
- Many grant applicants aim to promote economic sustainability by ensuring better living standards for all through certifications and partnerships.
- Almost all grant applicants stated that environmental protection through responsible consumption, waste management and recycling is part of their business’ everyday practice.
- Women business owners are driving social sustainability outcomes by changing organizational culture and human resources practices by:
- Improving women’s representation in business leadership and in the workforce;
- Removing barriers for other women entrepreneurs; and
- Creating thousands of jobs for women and other equity-seeking groups, including racialized, Indigenous, 2LGBTQS+ groups, immigrants, and newcomers.
The full Executive Summary can be accessed here.
Since announcing the annual BMO Celebrating Women Grant Program in 2020, BMO has:
- Launched BMO EMpower, a series of long-term commitments to advance inclusive economic recovery in the United States. The program has pledged $5 billion over five years to address key barriers faced by underserved businesses, communities and families. It has already exceeded early targets with over $2 billion in commitments during the first 12 months of the program.
- As part of EMpower, the program announced $300 million for Women in Business and BMO for Black and Latinx Businesses. This money will provide better access to affordable credit lending, meaningful partnerships, resources and tools. Ultimately, it will help create more opportunity for growth and real financial progress.
- Set new diversity goals for senior leader and executive roles through its Zero Barriers to Inclusion 2025 strategy. The program has maintained its leadership in gender diversity. At least 40 percent of senior leadership roles are filled by employees who identify as women.
To learn more about BMO Celebrating Women, visit bmoharris.com/women and join the social conversation using #BMOforWomen.
About BMO Harris Bank
BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through more than 500 branches and fee-free access to over 40,000 ATMs across the United States. BMO Harris Bank’s commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the United States. For more information about BMO Harris Bank, visit the company fact sheet. Accounts are subject to approval. BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a highly diversified financial services provider with total assets of CDN$971 billion as of July 31, 2021.
Bank of America recently launched an access to capital directory for women entrepreneurs.