• WMNfintech is North America’s largest nonprofit fintech accelerator for women-founded and women-led startups, developed by BMO and 1871
  • Applications are open from March 20-April 17, 2023
  • Any women-founded or women-led fintech startup in North America that has a brand presence in the United States may apply
  • More than 15 percent of women fintech founders in North America have participated in WMNfintech

CHICAGO, March 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ – BMO and 1871 today announced a call for applications for its annual WMNfintech program, the largest nonprofit fintech industry accelerator for women-founded and women-led startups in North America. The program, designed to support the financial progress of women in fintech, bridges the gender gap in the startup and tech community by giving women entrepreneurs access to a powerful ecosystem focused on helping them grow their businesses and bring innovative technologies and products forward that support the financial sector.

Since launching in 2020, women-led fintechs that have completed WMNfintech have raised more than $31 million in capital and created over 170 jobs. In North America, 15 percent of women fintech founders have come through BMO and 1871’s doors and become a valuable part of its ecosystem1 – which continues to grow following BMO’s recent acquisition of Bank of the West that now positions the bank in three of the top five U.S. markets. Additionally, BMO has expanded its national fintech network by hosting the “WMNfintech Lounge” at the annual Fintech Meetup in Las Vegas, one of the largest financial technology events in the world happening this week.

Five companies will be selected to participate in the program to support the progress of women founders in the following ways:

  • Curated fintech-amplified workshops
  • Additional curriculum focused on enterprise sales cycles, vendor management, information security, risk and regulatory requirements, and media training delivered by BMO.
  • The opportunity to pitch investors and BMO ecosystem partners for feedback, mentoring, continued connections, and/or funding.
  • Access to an immersive 12-week educational programming known as PYROS fintech
  • Six months complimentary membership to 1871, including access to its space, resources, and roadmap of support.

“BMO is committed to making progress for a thriving economy, sustainable future and inclusive society. In the fintech space, WMNfintech is the only program of its kind that connects women founders to one of the best ecosystems in North America to accelerate their businesses, pitch products and services to investors, and create opportunities to secure capital,” said Andrew Harrison, Head of U.S. Digital Partnerships at BMO. “Each year, our partnership with 1871 helps founders create the growth that supports a thriving economy, all while eliminating barriers to inclusion. We are eager to meet this year’s cohort that will no doubt transform the banking experience.”

Since WMNfintech‘s inception, BMO, 1871 and its partners have developed proofs of concept, partnerships, new products, and investments. BMO has also partnered with previous WMNfintech participants, such as SpringFour – a fintech that offers a cloud-based platform of 20,000-plus financial resources to connect customers to the support they need to regain financial control, repay loans, reduce expenses and get back on track with payments. SpringFour is one of the WMNfintech‘s first alumni that has partnered with BMO for more than five years. The company was featured at BMO’s Investor Day conference in 2022 and now serves as a mentor to new WMNfintech participants.

“Women are unapologetically taking the fintech industry by storm, and it’s vital that corporations team up with proven young startups to accelerate innovation and success,” said Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871. “Year after year, we’ve seen extraordinary female founders in this program solving very important problems. We are excited to partner with BMO once again in delivering this program.”

WMNfintech strongly aligns with BMO’s Zero Barriers to Inclusion strategy that supports equity, equality, and inclusion in and outside the bank. The program is also another example of BMO’s Digital First strategy, focused on building a digitally-enabled, future-ready bank that drives progress for its customers, unlocks the power of its people, and delivers loyalty, growth, and efficiency.

BMO is committed to supporting the advancement of women through the following commitments and programs: 

  • $1.2 million in funding to SheEO – a not-for-profit company which offers financial support to businesses led by women and non-binary people. BMO’s financial commitment allowed SheEO to fund all 2021 venture applicant companies.
  • BMO Empower 2.0 – a series of long-term commitments to advance inclusive economic recovery and address barriers faced by minority businesses, communities, and families in the United States. The plan builds upon the bank’s previous $5 billion EMpower commitment for which the bank exceeded its goals early.
  • As part of EMpower, announced $300 million for Women in Business and BMO for Black and Latinx Businesses to provide better access to affordable credit lending, meaningful partnerships, resources, and tools to create more opportunity for growth and real financial progress.
  • BMO Celebrating Women Grant Program – an annual partnership with Deloitte to award $80,000 in grants, in both the U.S. and Canada, to support the high-level growth plans of women-owned businesses.
  • BMO Returnship Program – a partnership with The Mom Project to provide mothers who have a gap in their career or have left the workforce a smooth path to return without having to start over.
  • Set new diversity goals for senior leader and executive roles through its Zero Barriers to Inclusion 2025 strategy, including maintaining its leadership in gender diversity with at least 40 percent of senior leadership roles filled by employees who identify as women.

To apply for the WMNfintech program by April 17 and learn more about the program, visit https://1871.com/membership/wmnfintech/.

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 $1.15 trillion as of January 31, 2023, 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 12 million customers and conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Commercial Banking, BMO Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.

About 1871

1871 is Chicago’s innovation hub and the #1 ranked private business incubator in the world. It exists to inspire, equip, and support early stage, growth stage and corporate innovators in building extraordinary businesses. 1871 is home to ~400 technology startups, ~200 growth stage companies, and ~1,500 members, and is supported by an entire ecosystem focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. The member experience includes virtual and in person access to workshops, events, mentorship, and more. The nonprofit organization has 350 mentors available to its members, alongside access to more than 200 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and others. Since its inception in 2012, more than 850 alumni companies are currently still active, have created over 14,500 jobs, and have raised more than $3.5 billion in follow-on capital.

Source: 15 percent of all women fintech founders in North America have participated in the WMNfintech Program according to data collected from Crunchbase on women-founded or women-led Fintechs founded from 2017 to 2022, making it the largest nonprofit fintech industry program for women

SOURCE BMO Financial Group

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