The Montreal Group is an international not-for-profit association founded in 2012 to promote collaboration, mutual learning, and exchange of technical expertise and practices among Public Banks dedicated to supporting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in their respective countries.
The Group’s name is derived from the city in which it was founded, Montreal, Canada.
The mission of The Montreal Group is to offer a global platform for collaboration and mutual learning among MSME-focused Public Banks interested in identifying innovative and sustainable solutions to the opportunities and challenges encountered by MSMEs across the world.
MSMEs face unique and continuous challenges. In response, governments have developed schemes to help remedy market deficiencies in areas where the private sector is unable or unwilling to operate. Public banks are one key instrument in carrying out this mission. In many countries, these banks have become important sources of financial and non-financial support for MSMEs.
In 2012, a group of MSES-focused public banks from different countries, including Brazil, Canada, China, Mexico, France, India, and Russia, met at the headquarters of the Business Development Bank of Canada to create The Montreal Group, the first global platform exclusively dedicated to this type of financial institutions.
On the right, the founding members of TMG during its launch in 2012.
The Year 2022 Marked Our 10th Anniversary
To celebrate this important milestone, the Secretariat recommended putting sustainability at the core of its activities, recognizing the key role public banks can play in supporting the implementation of the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 and the climate agreements, and in building a more prosperous and sustainable world by supporting businesses with financial resources and non-financial assistance.
Moreover, the Board of Directors conducted a strategic review of the organization, assessing the alignment of its mission, objectives and structure defined in 2012. This resulted in a set of recommendations, approved during the Annual General Meeting of 2023, which will be implemented in the coming years with the aim of reinforcing the work of the Secretariat and the participation of its members.
The Montreal Group Secretariat
The Secretariat oversees the day-to-day operations of the organization. It is composed of the Secretary-General, the Head of Operations, and support staff hired on a need basis. It is presently headquartered within the offices of BDC, in Montreal, Canada.
Karen Kastner | Secretary-GeneralKaren Kastner was appointed Secretary-General of The Montreal Group in April 2023. She is Vice President, Strategy and Government Relations at BDC since June 2022. In the latter role, she is responsible for corporate strategy development, BDC’s relationship with its sole shareholder, the Government of Canada, and for international relations. Ms. Kastner began her career with the federal Department of Justice where she worked on the implementation of new domestic legislation. She then became involved in international treaty negotiations, providing policy advice and representing Canada at the United Nations, G8, European Commission and Organization of American States. Ms. Kastner also worked at the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority which she joined to build its corporate planning and government relations functions. Ms. Kastner holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Concordia University and an LL.B from the University of Ottawa. She has published articles in the United Nations Publications and the International Institute of Security Studies.
Juan Dávila | Program Manager and Head of Operations
Juan Dávila is the Program Manager and Head of Operations for The Montreal Group and also acts as Manager, International Relations for the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). Before taking on his current role, Juan held roles of increased responsibility at BDC. When he joined BDC in 2015, he supported The Montreal Group on a part-time basis. This experience sparked his interest for one day coming back to the organization.
Most recently, he was Manager for National Partnerships. In this role, he managed BDC’s key national partnerships with a particular focus on underserved entrepreneurs. Juan holds a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in International Business from Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. He has worked in Canada, Uruguay, and Egypt and speaks three languages: English, French and Spanish.
Jane Preteroti | Advisor
Jane Preteroti is an Advisor for The Montreal Group, as of March 2023. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Université de Montréal and a Master’s degree in International Law and Politics from the University of Sherbrooke. She previously completed an internship with the United Nations Office at Geneva at the Office of the Director-General with the NGO Liaison Unit and works as a Research Assistant for the royal Military College of Canada.
Sara Shafiei | Marketing Coordinator
Sara Shafiei joined The Montreal Group in January 2024 as the Marketing Coordinator. She holds a bachelors degree in Marketing from John Molson School of Business. As of November 2023, she graduated from her Masters of Science in Marketing. Her previous experiences includes internships at MEGA Brands and Ubisoft as a digital marketing intern and a CRM assistant. Sara also worked as part of the marketing subscription team at Ubisoft following her bachelors.