Amazon to invest $150M in funds that back underrepresented entrepreneurs

Amazon to invest $150M in funds that back underrepresented entrepreneurs

Posted on Inc. will invest $150 million in venture capital firms, accelerators, incubators and venture studios that provide funding to entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds.

The investment will be made as part of an initiative called Amazon Catalytic Capital that Amazon announced today. Over the next year, the company expects to support more than 10 funds and over 200 companies through the initiative.

Amazon will invest in funds that focus on Black, Latino, Indigenous, women and LGBTQIA+ founders. The funds backed by the company will primarily make seed and pre-seed investments. Amazon detailed today that it has to date invested in four funds: Collide Capital, Elevate Future Fund, Share Ventures and the Techstars Rising Stars Fund.

Collide Capital is a Black-owned seed and pre-seed venture capital fund led by two founders under the age of 35. The firm has backed over 40 companies, more than 80% of which are led by Black, Latino and or female founders.

Elevate Future Fund, the second fund that has received an investment from Amazon Catalytic Capital, focuses on increasing funding to underrepresented founders working on sustainable and clean energy technologies. The fund will also make investments in companies that are empowering diverse talent and or creating economic opportunity for distressed or disadvantaged communities.

Share Ventures is a Los Angeles-based venture fund and venture foundry. It makes investments in segments such as health technology, fintech, purpose tech and transportation, as well as other areas. 

The Techstars Rising Stars Fund, the fourth fund that has received an investment from Amazon, is managed by prominent startup accelerator Techstars. The fund focuses on investing in underrepresented founders of color in the U.S.

In addition to capital, startups backed by Amazon Catalytic Capital will receive mentorship from Amazon executives. The company will also provide resources to support startups’ business and technical strategy. As part of the initiative, Amazon plans to work with startups to identify partnership and product collaboration opportunities that can accelerate their growth.

“We’ve seen incredibly innovative ideas from underrepresented entrepreneurs—from companies offering inclusive health services for women, to startups helping companies mitigate climate impact for underserved communities—and we’re convinced that an inclusive investment strategy leads to better returns and innovation,” said Peter Krawiec, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide corporate development. “We want to ensure that these companies and their founders have the same access to capital as anyone else.”

The launch of Amazon Catalytic Capital comes a few months after Amazon Web Services Inc. announced the AWS Impact Accelerator. Through the initiative, AWS is committing $30 million over the next three years to early-stage startups led by Black, women, Latino and LGBTQIA+ founders. Each participating startup will receive up to $225,000 in cash, AWS credits, training, mentoring and technical guidance, as well as other resources.

Photo: Amazon

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