Amazon is getting into venture capital to help fuel founders from under-represented 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 will focus its investments on funds with Black, Latino, Indigenous, women, and LGBTQIA+ founders, with the expectation to support more than 10 funds and over 200 companies through the next year.
In addition to capital, the companies in the funds’ portfolios will receive mentorship from Amazon executives and gain access to resources to support their business and technical strategy, the company said. Amazon said its teams will work with the startups to identify partnership and product collaboration opportunities that could 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,” Peter Krawiec, Amazon’s SVP of worldwide corporate development, said in a statement. “We want to ensure that 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 over 40 companies, of which 80%+ 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 to underrepresented founders working on solutions to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable and clean energy future; Share Ventures, a Los Angeles-based venture fund and venture foundry focused on human performance; and Techstars Rising Stars Fund, a pre-seed venture capital fund investing in underrepresented founders of color in the U.S.
Amazon Catalytic Capital is the latest in a series of Amazon-sponsored initiatives to boost and support early stage, underrepresented 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.
What’s more, Amazon chose North American startups to be part of its 2022 Black Founders Build with Alexa cohort, each receiving a $100,000 Alexa Fund investment, as well as 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’s stores.