BMO Announces 10 Recipients of $100,000 Grant Program for Women-Owned Businesses

TORONTO, Nov. 19, 2020 /CNW/ - To mark Women's Entrepreneurship Day, BMO Financial Group today announced the ten recipients of its $100,000 grant program. As part of its longstanding commitment to helping the advancement of women, the new grant program celebrates Canadian women business owners' innovation and resilience during the pandemic.

To assist with the grant recipient selection process, BMO collaborated with key strategic partners to establish an advisory committee and judging panel consisting of leaders from GroYourBiz, Women Presidents' Organization (WPO), Women Get On Board, Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada), Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, and Deloitte.

Each business will receive $10,000 and have the opportunity to receive ongoing support through one of the bank's partners, including a one-year membership with a peer advisory group for women business owners and a one-year certification with Women Business Enterprise Canada.

The BMO Celebrating Women 2020 Grant Recipients are:

  • Ayanna Lee Rivears, Socacize Fitness: Socacize Fitness is a creative blend of Caribbean and African dance techniques, with effective fitness movements.
  • Dr. Irit Van-Ham and Dr. Monika Yazdanian, ToeFX Inc.: Founded by two scientists, ToeFX is driven by innovation with a vision to create the world's most effective foot care treatments.
  • Kim Knight and Shanelle McKenzie, The Villij: The Villij creates an inclusive, accessible, and nurturing community for women of colour to connect, heal and expand. It provides health and wellness services, including yoga, meditation, walking clubs, conversations, and workshops.
  • Meghan Peters and Kristin Verbeek, Lathered Cleaning Company Inc.: Established in 2013, Lathered Cleaning uses only natural cleaning products and is dedicated to giving time back safely and effectively to other busy people.
  • Pam Fanjoy, Fan/Joy: Chef Pam's culinary passion has led her to create a line of Gourmet To Go prepared meals, the junior chef culinary and life skills programs and the youth-run café and marketplace to help improve the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of local youths and families.
  • Pooja Rao, got BALLZ Inc.: With a goal to produce high quality products, made with the utmost care from locally sourced ingredients, got BALLZ re-invents snacks and foods we love with a healthy twist.
  • Pooja Viswanathan, Braze Mobility Inc.: Braze Mobility has developed the world's first blind-spot sensor system for wheelchairs, which automatically detects obstacles and provides multi-modal alerts (visual, vibration, and/or audio feedback) to the driver.
  • Rebecca Taylor, Ready to go Foods Inc.: With a passion for cooking and Caribbean flavours, Ready to go Foods allows those with busy lifestyles to enjoy healthy, Caribbean flavoured meals in their own kitchen.
  • Robyn Ledoux, A Touch of Health: Launched in 2009, A Touch of Health began as a simple one-woman massage therapy clinic. Since then, the business has grown to employ 10 people and has diversified to include a health food café, A Taste of Health.
  • Shehreen Zaman, Math Project: Math Project offers students the opportunity to strengthen their math skills through on-site and online interactive sessions with a qualified team of tutors.

"A large part of supporting the advancement of women is celebrating the contributions made by women leaders, entrepreneurs and mentors in local communities," said Erminia (Ernie) Johannson, Group Head, North American Personal and Business Banking, BMO Financial Group. "We're proud to recognize these women and their ability to innovate in their businesses and persevere during this difficult time. Congratulations to this year's honourees on all their achievements."

Since its inception in 2012, BMO Celebrating Women has honoured more than 180 women in communities across Canada and the United States. In addition to the new grant program, BMO has developed programs and invested in solutions to support women entrepreneurs. The bank committed to making $3 billion in capital available to women-owned businesses across Canada over three years, has embedded diversity-focused procurement programs, and has created a new women's business directory.

"These women – who have clearly demonstrated unrelenting drive and resilience throughout this last year – are essential not only to our economy, but to the future of Canada; their achievements cannot be overstated," said Linda Blair, Managing Partner, Ontario, Deloitte Canada. "Deloitte is proud to assist BMO in recognizing the value of these entrepreneurs, to elevate their success, and to help them thrive at every step along the way."

To learn more about the grant recipients and BMO Celebrating Women, visit bmoforwomen.com and join the social conversation using #BMOforWomen.

About BMO for Women
BMO is committed to supporting initiatives that empower women within its workforce and the communities the bank serves. BMO has partnered with organizations such as the Women Presidents' Organization, GroYourBiz, Women Business Enterprises, and Women Get On Board to provide expertise, leadership, knowledge, and opportunities for women to network and learn. In 2018, BMO announced $3 billion in capital available over three years specifically for Canadian businesses owned by women. Through the only bank-owned recognition program for women in North America – BMO Celebrating Women – BMO celebrates successful women who have given back to their communities or achieved success in business. Since 2012, BMO Celebrating Women has honoured more than 180 women in communities across Canada and the United States.

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 $974 billion as of July 31, 2020, 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 Deloitte
Deloitte provides audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and related services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. Deloitte serves four out of five Fortune Global 500® companies through a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries and territories bringing world-class capabilities, insights, and service to address clients' most complex business challenges. Deloitte LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership, is the Canadian member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see www.deloitte.com/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and its member firms.

Our global Purpose is making an impact that matters. At Deloitte Canada, that translates into building a better future by accelerating and expanding access to knowledge. We believe we can achieve this Purpose by living our shared values to lead the way, serve with integrity, take care of each other, foster inclusion, and collaborate for measurable impact.

To learn more about how Deloitte's approximately 312,000 professionals, over 12,000 of whom are part of the Canadian firm, please connect with us on LinkedInTwitterInstagram, or Facebook.

SOURCE BMO Financial Group

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