PR Newswire | September 27, 2023
BMO today announced the expansion of its Zero Barriers to Business program for Black, Latino, Native, and Women-owned businesses across the bank's expanded footprint. The program aims to break down barriers for historically underserved and marginalized groups through inclusive banking products, services, and resources as part of BMO EMpower 2.0 – the bank's more than $40 billion community benefits plan. As part of the expansion, BMO has committed $200 million in lending to support the progress of minority-owned businesses.
BMO's Zero Barriers to Business now helps business owners in 22 states – including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
"Helping our clients, colleagues and communities make real financial progress is at the core of our Purpose, to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life," said Niamh Kristufek, Head of U.S. Business Banking at BMO. "The launch of BMO's Zero Barriers to Business to our expanded footprint brings us one step closer to a more inclusive society – especially for groups facing systemic barriers – by ensuring our clients have access to capital and financial tools and education."
According to BMO's Real Financial Progress Index, more minority business owners report they have started a business this year or plan to compared to non-minorities, with 16 percent of Black respondents starting a business, 9 percent of Latino, and 7 percent of Asian-Americans. Nearly 20 percent of U.S. small business owners are minority-owned, according to Forbes' Small Business Statistics of 2023 – but according to Fed Small Business' 2022 Report on Firms Owned by People of Color, borrowers of color were about half as likely as white-owned applicant firms to receive all of the financing they sought.
Specifically, BMO's Zero Barriers to Business includes:
Better access to capital:Business owners receive 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 pay interest on what they borrow. 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 credit criteria.
Access to education:Free access to practical tools such as business plan templates, profit improvement calculators, podcasts, webinars, and coaching to help business owners make real financial progress.
Access to partnerships:BMO is continually forming new partnerships with organizations that give business owners access to meaningful networks, additional coaching, educational resources, and alternative funding sources.
Since launching the program in late 2020, the bank has helped minority small businesses make real financial progress by:
Approving$80 millionsmall business loans.
Funding more than 3,400 small businesses.
Providing more than 800 hours of educational webinars and business literacy workshops supporting 5,000 business owners in collaboration with organizations such as Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Chicago Urban League, Sunshine Enterprises, and Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation.
Graduating 45 clients fromZero Barriers to Businessto qualify for traditional lending programs under standard lending criteria.
Securing 40 non-profit Community Development Financial Institutions Funds (CDFI) partnerships to support access to capital, education, and networking opportunities for diverse small business owners.
The expansion also comes during Hispanic Heritage Month along with a $500,000 commitment by BMO to support the creation of a Latino Business Loan Program with Colorado Enterprise Fund. The fund aims to eliminate barriers and support inclusive economic opportunity for small businesses across Colorado.
Ceyl Prinster, CEO, Colorado Enterprise Fund said,
Colorado Enterprise Fund's mission has always been to provide access to capital to underserved communities including minority-owned small businesses. With the funding from BMO, CEF will focus even more economic and educational resources toward Latino small business entrepreneurs throughout Colorado.
[Source – Cision PR Newswire]
About BMO Financial Group
BMO Financial Group is the eighth largest bank in North America by assets, with total assets of $1.25 trillion as of July 31, 2023. Serving customers for 200 years and counting, BMO is a diverse team of highly engaged employees providing a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management, global markets and investment banking products and services to over 13 million customers across Canada, the United States, and in select markets globally. Driven by a single purpose, to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life, BMO is committed to driving positive change in the world, and making progress for a thriving economy, sustainable future, and inclusive society.
SMALL BUSINESS TRENDS
NEXT Insurance | September 20, 2023
NEXT Insurance, a renowned digital small business insurer, recently unveiled an innovative new offering that will empower agents to tailor coverage quotes precisely to the unique needs of their small business clientele. NEXT's Coverage Builder represents a significant advancement in granting agents the capability to finely customize small business insurance quotes while still retaining NEXT's hallmark instant bind capabilities. Coverage Builder is designed to be swift, user-friendly, and exclusively tailored for agents before purchase, equipping them with the necessary tools to choose suitable limits and maintain complete control over the coverage they're quoting.
With the introduction of Coverage Builder, agents can set their base policy limits, add or remove specific coverage, or adjust limits post-purchase. This functionality, combined with the convenience of instant underwriting and pricing updates, not only saves agents valuable time but also enables them to make adjustments instantly without the need to pick up the phone, eliminating the need for direct communication with an underwriter.
This represents NEXT's ongoing commitment to supporting its agents, offering them a digitally driven quoting experience that is user-friendly, accessible, and 100% online. Additionally, Coverage Builder will be accessible to all NEXT customers post-purchase, enabling small business owners to tailor their policies with immediate pricing adjustments and seamless policy management.
Cody L Slocum Lammers, Commercial Lines Agent & Broker at Affordable Insurance Solutions, commented,
NEXT's Coverage Builder feature is 100% hassle-free. This new feature sets NEXT Insurance to a new level, above its competitors, as this allows agents the flexibility to customize policies to fit the needs of each individual small business. It's user-friendly and simple to understand- this is truly a game changer for NEXT Insurance agents!
[Source – Cision PR Newswire]
This announcement follows NEXT's recent commercial umbrella/excess liability coverage launch to aid small businesses in their entrepreneurial journey. The digital small business insurer has also made strides by announcing its integration with Ivans Download for General Liability and Workers' Compensation policies and appointing Jack Ramsey as Vice President of Agent Business. These developments underscore NEXT's dedication to its agents and mission to enhance small business clients' insurance purchasing process with a smoother and more intuitive experience.
About NEXT Insurance
NEXT Insurance, a leading digital small business insurer, is spearheading the transformation of small business insurance by offering streamlined, digital, cost-effective, and tailored coverage solutions. With the trust of over 480,000 business proprietors, the company offers policies that are both convenient to purchase and grant uninterrupted access to Live Certificates of Insurance, additional insured, and more. Pioneering an industry historically known for its complexity, NEXT leverages the power of AI and machine learning to simplify the buying process and make affordable coverage accessible. Established in 2016 and headquartered in Palo Alto, the company has garnered a total of $881 million in venture capital funding.
Cloudinary | September 22, 2023
Cloudinary, a renowned image and video platform, has recently unveiled an addition to its asset management suite with the launch of Cloudinary Nexus. This digital asset management (DAM) solution is explicitly tailored to meet the needs of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Available immediately, Cloudinary Nexus offers both free and premium options. This AI-powered solution empowers SMBs and teams with enterprise-grade capabilities, making it effortless for them to connect, explore, and optimize their digital assets, all while streamlining their branding efforts with minimal time and complexity.
Drawing upon the strengths of Cloudinary's acclaimed DAM solution designed for enterprise clientele, known as Cloudinary Assets, Nexus equips smaller brands with the ability to automate essential yet time-consuming tasks associated with asset management. Nexus incorporates advanced AI functionalities and automation to handle tasks like metadata tagging and file format and size optimization. This ensures that teams can dedicate more of their time to more rewarding and high-impact activities. Nexus places significant emphasis on user-friendliness and accessibility, making it a valuable asset for a wide range of teams and individuals.
With features such as generative AI, Studio, collections, smart search, and auto-tagging, Nexus equips users with all the tools necessary to unlock the full potential of their images and videos. It enables users to:
Instantly Prepare Images and Videos: Users can effortlessly adapt designs, resize, and fine-tune assets in bulk within seconds. The inclusion of subject-aware AI enables the generation of new assets, while readily available creative presets facilitate the creation of multiple variations from a single master asset.
Transform User-Generated Content into Brand-Ready Assets: AI and automation simplify the task of moderating, managing, and approving user uploads, requiring minimal to no effort.
Facilitate Seamless and Effective Collaboration: By controlling file visibility through custom user roles and permissions, Nexus enhances productivity. Users can collaborate seamlessly with other contributors, teams, and partners, simplifying asset handovers.
Instantly Organize and Discover Assets: The automatic addition of tags and metadata, including colors, faces, and objects, improves asset discoverability. An AI-driven visual search feature provides highly accurate and personalized search results.
Effortless Setup: Nexus offers easy visual content import and integration with existing storage platforms like Google Drive and Dropbox, ensuring a smooth transition.
Cloudinary is a leading image and video technology platform that empowers the world's most engaging brands to deliver transformative visual experiences on a global scale. Consisting of a user base of over 1.5 million and serving more than 10,000 esteemed customers, including Bleacher Report, Apartment Therapy, Bombas, NBC, Grubhub, Mediavine, Paul Smith, Minted, and Peloton, Cloudinary is the trusted choice for bringing campaigns, applications, and websites to life. With unrivaled image and video APIs, supported by cutting-edge AI and patented technology, Cloudinary provides brands with a singular source of truth to effectively manage, transform, optimize, and seamlessly deliver visual experiences at scale.