Amazon is getting into venture capital to help nurture founders from underrepresented communities.
The online mega-retailer announced on Wednesday that it has launched “Amazon Catalytic Capital”, a new initiative to invest $150 million in venture capital funds. In a press release, Amazon said it would focus its investments in funds with Black, Latino, Indigenous, female, and LGBTQIA+ founders, hoping to back more than 10 funds and more than 200 companies over the course of next year.
In addition to capital, companies in the funds’ portfolios will receive mentorship from Amazon executives and access to resources to support their business and technical strategy, the company said. Amazon said its teams will work with startups to identify partnership and product collaboration opportunities that could accelerate their growth.
“We’ve seen incredibly innovative ideas from underrepresented entrepreneurs – from companies providing inclusive health services for women to startups helping companies mitigate climate impact for underserved communities – and we believe that a strategy inclusive investing leads to better returns and innovation,” Peter Krawiec, Amazon’s senior vice president of global business development, said in a statement. “We want to make sure these companies and their founders have the same access to capital as anyone else.”
So far, through this initiative, Amazon has invested in Collide Capital, a black-owned seed and pre-seed venture capital fund that has backed more than 40 companies, more than 80% of which are led. by black, Latino and/or female founders. ; Elevate Future Fund, which is overseen by Energy Impact Partners (EIP), and focuses on increasing funding for underrepresented founders working on solutions to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable and clean energy future; Share Ventures, a Los Angeles-based venture capital fund and venture capital foundry focused on human performance; and Techstars Rising Stars Fund, a pre-seed venture capital fund investing in underrepresented founders of color in the United States
Amazon Catalytic Capital is the latest in a series of Amazon-sponsored initiatives to nurture and support underrepresented early-stage entrepreneurs. Amazon Web Services recently launched the AWS Impact Accelerator, investing $30 million in a series of programs designed to help high-potential pre-seed startups led by underrepresented founders.
Additionally, Amazon has chosen North American startups to be part of its 2022 Black Founders Build with Alexa cohort, each receiving a $100,000 investment from the Alexa Fund, along with technology support.
And, in 2021, Amazon committed $150 million to its Black Business Accelerator, an initiative to help black business owners succeed as sellers in Amazon stores.