Amazon to Invest $150 Million in Funds That Provide Underrepresented Entrepreneurs with Access to Capital

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE). -Initial/Initial stage of venture capital funding. The company will invest in funds focused on Black, Latino, Indigenous, Women and LGBTQIA+ founders. Amazon expects to support more than 10 funds and over 200 companies over the next year.

“We’ve seen incredibly innovative ideas from underrepresented entrepreneurs — from companies providing inclusive health services for women to startups helping companies mitigate climate impacts for underserved communities — and we believe an inclusive investment strategy can better returns and innovation. We want to make sure these companies and their founders have the same access to capital as everyone else,” said Peter Krawiec, Amazon’s senior vice president of Worldwide Corporate Development. “We hope that our investment will be catalytic – create a power-amplifying effect by inspiring others to invest in these companies, fostering inclusion and innovation, positively impacting communities, and creating generational wealth and financial returns.”

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

Historically, under-represented founders have had less access to venture capital for start-ups and greater difficulty in securing funding to bring ideas to fruition. Studies consistently show that Black, Hispanic, Female and LGBTQIA+ startup founders are underrepresented in the total number of startups funded. According to PitchBook, female founders will receive 2% of US venture capital funding in 2021. Likewise, Black and Latino-founded startups attracted just 1% and 2%, respectively, of U.S. venture capital funding over the past year, as reported by Crunchbase News. Research shows that these injustices create a negative knock-on effect for underrepresented entrepreneurs, including limited access to networks, mentors and sponsors. Despite these challenges, diverse and inclusive teams are 75% more likely to see ideas become products and 70% more likely to serve new categories.

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

  • Collide Capital – Collide Capital is a black-owned seed and pre-seed venture capital fund led by two founders under the age of 35: Aaron Samuels, co-founder of AfroTech, and Brian Hollins, founding member of the board of BLCK VC. To date, Collide Capital has backed over 40 companies, over 80% of which are led by Black, Hispanic and/or female founders.

  • Elevate Future Fund — Elevate Future Fund, overseen by Energy Impact Partners (EIP), is focused on increasing funding for underrepresented founders working on solutions to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable and cleaner energy future. It will also make investments in companies run by underrepresented entrepreneurs, nurture diverse talent and/or create economic opportunity for distressed or disadvantaged communities. Elevate will also work closely with Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, which invests in emerging climate technology companies.

  • Share Ventures – Share Ventures 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 unleash human potential in categories such as health tech, future of work, people tech, fintech, transportation and purpose technology (companies that enable impact and change).

  • Techstars Rising Stars Fund – With its first investments in 2022, the Rising Stars Fund is a pre-seed venture capital fund investing in underrepresented founders of color in the United States. On-One mentoring and tailor-made programs for young entrepreneurs.

Investors from Amazon-backed VC funds have backed hundreds of underrepresented startup founders. With Amazon’s investments, these VC funds expect to support hundreds more companies and, in turn, help create more jobs and enable economic growth in historically underserved communities.

“We are focused on tackling financial inclusion around the world and Collide Capital has been an investor in us from the start. Collide has helped us shape our vision and opened up access to future funding rounds,” said the founder and CEO of fintech startup EMTECH, Carmelle Cadet. “EMTECH discovered a unique value proposition in rebuilding central bank infrastructure for the Web3 era. As a tech company founded by black women, it was critical to our journey that Collide was passionate about our vision. We’re better off partnering with them and I’m excited to see Amazon supporting them to help even more entrepreneurs like me.”

“Our collaboration with the Amazon team grew out of our shared passion for innovation in key areas that improve the human experience at scale. We align with Amazon’s customer obsession and are grateful to learn and work 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 Amazon-sponsored initiatives to nurture and support underrepresented early-stage entrepreneurs. Amazon Web Services recently launched the AWS Impact Accelerator and is investing $30 million in a series of programs aimed at helping promising pre-seed startups led by underrepresented founders thrive. Amazon has selected North American startups to be part of its 2022 Black Founders Build with Alexa cohort, each receiving a $100,000 Alexa Fund investment and technology support. Additionally, in 2021, Amazon committed $150 million to its Black Business Accelerator, an initiative designed to help black business owners thrive as sellers in Amazon stores.

Learn more about Amazon Catalytic Capital at amazoncatalyticcapital.com. Funds interested in investing from Amazon can contact Amazon here.

About Amazon

Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor orientation, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Amazon strives to be the world’s most customer-centric company, the world’s best place to work, and the safest place to work on earth. Customer Reviews, 1-Click Shopping, Personalized Recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Career Choice, Fire Tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Alexa, Just Walk Out Technology, Amazon Studios and The Climate Pledge are some of the things that have been developed by Amazon. For more information, visit amazon.com/about and follow @AmazonNews.

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