Online retail giants Amazon have announced plans to contribute as much as US$150 million in venture capital funds to benefit entrepreneurs and businesspeople from underrepresented backgrounds, in a step the e-commerce powerhouse hopes will inspire others to invest in similar opportunities.
Amazon Catalytic Capital, the new initiative announced by Amazon, is named for the cataclysmic influence it suggests it hopes to play in driving increased funding to entrepreneurs from various underrepresented backgrounds. It comes as, despite minor progress in funding being offered to startups and entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities in 2021, funding to startups from such backgrounds has stalled disproportionately even when compared to the overall declines in venture capital funding.
Such a trend, it is suggested, is precisely that which Amazon hopes to address with its latest initiative.
“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,” said Peter Krawiec, Amazon’s Senior VIce President of Worldwide Corporate Development. “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.”
The initiative will see Amazon contribute to as many as ten funds overall, with these investments to see division to more than 200 companies within the next year according to Amazon’s estimations. Funding opportunities will also see recipients at company levels offered mentorship from Amazon executives, and assistance from Amazon resources for these businesses to identify opportunities for partnership, collaboration and professional growth.
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