Amazon has launched Amazon Catalytic Capital, an initiative that will invest $150 million in venture capital funds, accelerators, incubators and venture studios that provide funding to entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds, primarily at the pre-seed/seed stage of venture capital funding. The company will invest in funds that focus on Black, Latino, Indigenous, women, and LGBTQIA+ founders and expects to support more than 10 funds and over 200 companies in the next year.
The companies in the funds’ portfolios also will receive mentorship from Amazon executives and gain access to resources to support their business and technical strategy. Additionally, Amazon 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,” said Peter Krawiec, SVP of Worldwide Corporate Development at Amazon in a statement. “We want to ensure that these companies and their founders have the same access to capital as anyone else. 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.”
Investors from the VC funds supported by Amazon have supported hundreds of underrepresented startup founders. Recipients of Amazon’s investments include:
- Collide Capital: A Black-owned seed and pre-seed venture capital fund led by two founders under the age of 35 that has backed over 40 companies, of which more than 80% are led by Black, Latino and/or female founders;
- Elevate Future Fund: A fund overseen by Energy Impact Partners (EIP) with a focus on increasing funding to underrepresented founders working on solutions to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable and clean energy future, including by collaborating closely with Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund;
- Share Ventures: A venture fund and venture foundry focused on human performance, with an emphasis 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; and
- 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 U.S. The fund is part of the Techstars investment business, which provides access to capital, one-on-one mentorship and customized programming for early-stage entrepreneurs.
Many major retailers have been making investments in minority-owned companies, including Lowe’s, Sephora and Foot Locker. Target in particular has implemented multiple programs aimed at helping Black-owned businesses, including by adding 40 beauty brands to its assortment and launching a Shark Tank-style TV series.