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Amazon will invest $150 million in funds aimed at diverse entrepreneurs

This initiative will offer mentorship and business opportunities to startups led by Black, Latino, Indigenous, women, and LGBTQIA+ founders.

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Amazon Catalytic Capital is a new initiative to invest in more than 10 venture capital (VC) funds and in more than 200 accelerator and incubator companies during the next year, where firms such as Collide Capital, Elevate Future Fund, Share Ventures, and TechStars Rising Stars stand out.

The program also offers venture studies that provide financing to entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, mainly in the pre-seed / seed stage of financing.

Peter Krawiec, Amazon’s senior Vice President of Worldwide Corporate Development, stated:

We hope that our investment will be catalytic—sparking a force-multiplying effect by inspiring others to invest in these companies, fostering inclusion and innovation, positively impacting communities, and creating generational wealth and financial return.

A historical debt

Historically, diverse founders have had less access to startup venture capital and more difficulty obtaining funding to develop their ideas, according to data provided by Amazon.

According to PitchBook, female founders received 2% of U.S. venture capital funding in 2021.

Also, according to Crunchbase News, Black and Latino-founded startups attracted just 1% and 2% of U.S. venture capital funding, respectively, last year.

Despite these negative indicators showing that these inequities create a ripple effect for diverse entrepreneurs, including reduced access to networks, mentors, and sponsors, it is diverse and inclusive teams that are 75% more likely to see ideas converted into products, as well as 70% more likely to serve new categories.

“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. We want to ensure that these companies and their founders have the same access to capital as anyone else,” added Krawiec.

In addition to capital, companies in the funds' portfolios will receive mentorship from Amazon executives and gain access to resources to support their business and technical strategy. Amazon teams will also work with startups to identify product partnership and collaboration opportunities that could accelerate their growth.

Through this initiative, Amazon has invested in the following funds:

  • Collide Capital — It is a Black-owned seed and pre-seed venture capital fund led by two founders under the age of 35: Aaron Samuels, who co-founded AfroTech, and Brian Hollins, who is a founding Board Member of BLCK VC. To date, Collide Capital has backed over 40 companies, of which 80%+ are led by Black, Latino, and/or female founders.
  • Elevate Future Fund — Overseen by Energy Impact Partners (EIP), it focuses on increasing funding to underrepresented founders working on solutions to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable and clean energy future. It will also make investments in companies that are led by underrepresented entrepreneurs, are empowering diverse talent, and/or are creating economic opportunity for distressed or disadvantaged communities. Elevate will also collaborate closely with Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, which invests in emerging climate technology companies.
  • Share Ventures — It is a Los Angeles-based venture fund and venture foundry focused on human performance. Share focuses on solving problems by creating and investing in innovative companies that unlock human potential, in categories including health tech, future of work, people tech, fintech, transportation, and purpose tech (companies facilitating impact and change).
  • Techstars Rising Stars Fund — With its first investments in 2022, it is a pre-seed venture capital fund investing in underrepresented founders of color in the U.S. The fund is part of the Techstars investment business that provides access to capital, one-on-one mentorship, and customized programming for early-stage entrepreneurs.

Investors in Amazon-backed venture capital funds have supported hundreds of diverse startup founders.

Reactions

“We are focused on addressing financial inclusion across the globe, and Collide Capital has been an investor in us from the early days. Collide has helped us to shape our vision and opened up access to future rounds of funding. EMTECH discovered a unique value proposition in rebuilding central banking infrastructure for the Web3 era. As a Black woman-founded tech company, having Collide getting excited about our vision was critical to our journey. We are better with them as partners, and I am excited to see how Amazon is supporting them to help even more entrepreneurs like me,” said Carmelle Cadet, the founder and CEO of fintech startup EMTECH. 

“Our collaboration with the team at Amazon was born out of our shared passion for innovation in key areas that improve the human experience at scale. We are aligned with Amazon’s customer obsession and grateful to be learning and collaborating with them to build a portfolio of game changing companies,” said Hamet Watt, managing partner at Share Ventures.

Amazon Catalytic Capital is the latest in a series of initiatives sponsored by Amazon to foster and support early-stage and diverse entrepreneurs.

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