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BMO Harris Bank and 1871 Launch WMN•FINtech, Women's Fintech Mentoring Program

Women-led fintech startups from across the U.S. can apply through May 11

CHICAGO, April 27, 2020 /CNW/ - BMO Harris Bank and 1871 today announced a nationwide call to apply for WMN•FINtech, a mentoring program for women-led startups and the latest evolution of the BMO Harris / 1871 Innovation Program. This marks the first time BMO and 1871 have partnered on a women's-focused program. Applications will be accepted through May 11.

A significant gender gap persists in the startup and tech community. Only 20 percent of global startups raising their first funding round in 2019 had a female founder.1 BMO and 1871 created WMN•FINtech to help address this gap and give more women entrepreneurs the opportunity to bring cutting-edge technology and products forward.

The program is designed for startups that have created services or solutions for the financial sector, offer insights and advice to customers or help identify customer needs. WMN•FINtech will provide selected startups with:

  • A three-month mentoring program with guidance from industry experts at BMO Harris Bank
  • A four-month membership and working space at 1871, the number one private business incubator in the world2
  • Curriculum focused on teaching enterprise sales cycles, vendor management, information security and risk and regulatory requirements
  • The opportunity to pitch venture capital investors for feedback, mentoring, continued connections and/or funding

Participants will also have access to 1871's new "PYROS" initiative, a 13-week series of workshops, seminars and one-to-one mentoring built for founders to help them gain and grow customers and investor traction. PYROS will offer WMN•FINtech participants with a path to scale financial technology or service business.

Eligible startups have a woman founder or cofounder and are U.S.-based. Up to five startups will be selected to participate in this year's program. The program includes a pitch day designed for startups to gather feedback from and network with BMO senior executives. Participants may also have a potential future opportunity to pilot their product with BMO.

"We are so excited to launch our first WMN•FINtech cohort, doubling down on women founders focused on solving the hardest finance problems,'' said Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871. "The time is now, and BMO Harris Bank is the perfect partner given their strength as a financial institution and their long held mission to provide opportunities for women to come up and be powerful."

"Women face unique challenges when running any business, especially startups," said Niamh Kristufek, head of U.S. business banking for BMO Harris Bank. "We designed this year's program to help women innovators and entrepreneurs overcome barriers and bring new ideas to market." Kristufek commented how BMO also benefits from the program, "Working in partnership with the startups enables us to continue advancing our digital strategy and building industry-leading customer experiences. It's a win-win."

The program is an important step as BMO continues to build upon its strong digital foundation and invest in technology to transform the banking experience, with customer experience as a top priority. BMO's recent recognition as Corporate Champion at The 12th Annual Momentum Awards reflects the bank's commitment to supporting the entrepreneur and innovation ecosystem.

WMN•FINtech also strongly aligns with BMO's focus on empowering women and breaking down barriers to inclusion within its workforce and the communities the bank serves. Learn more about BMO's support for women entrepreneurs and commitment to "Boldly Grow the Good in Business and Life."

WMN•FINtech applications are due by May 11, 2020, at 4 p.m. CT. More information and the application can be found here.

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$880 billion, as of January 31, 2020.

About 1871
1871 is Chicago's technology hub and the #1 ranked private business incubator in the world. It exists to inspire, equip, and support founders, growth-scalers and innovators in building extraordinary businesses. 1871 is home to ~450 technology startups, ~400+ 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 100 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and others. Since its inception in 2012, more than 650 alumni companies are currently still active, have created over 11,250 jobs, and have raised more than $1.5 billion in follow-on capital.

SOURCE BMO Harris Bank


For further information: Media contacts: Kathleen Szot, BMO Harris Bank,, (312) 881-0388; J Blaszczykiewicz, Director of Marketing, 1871,