Canadian financial services provider BMO Financial Group announced the launch of a Women in Business Bond, with a CAD $750 million 5-year bond offering. According to the company, proceeds from the issue will be allocated toward women-owned enterprises, including micro, small and medium-sized businesses.

Caroline Dufaux, Head of Capital and Funding, Corporate Treasury, BMO Financial Group, said:

“As Canadian businesses embark on their recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19, many women-led businesses will face additional hurdles created by systemic barriers stemming from gender bias. The launch of our innovative Women in Business Bond reinforces BMO’s purpose-driven commitments to support an inclusive society with zero barriers and a thriving economy by doubling our support for women-owned businesses in Canada.”

The new bond was issued under BMO’s Sustainable Financing Framework, which defines eligible criteria for proceeds from sustainable finance issues. Under the category of “Women-owned business lending,” the framework defines eligible criteria as lending or financing to a micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) where at least one of the owners of the enterprise is a woman, or lending/financing to a non-SME where at least one third of the owners are women.

Mike Bonner, Head, Canadian Business Banking, BMO Financial Group, said:

“Women business owners have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19 related closures. Many owners are in service-based industries that continue to struggle, and quite a few have had to take on even more responsibility at home, which has added another layer of challenge as they work to run their businesses. We recognize the power of women and their contributions to the economy and, in order for us to recover, we all need to do our part to support women-owned small and medium-sized businesses.”

The Women in Business Bonds will bear interest at a fixed rate of 1.758%. The offering is expected to close on March 10, 2021, and the bonds will mature on March 10, 2026.