Amazon drives new programs to improve tech startup diversity, inclusion, and equity
Amazon Alexa Fund is collaborating with Blavity, to host Start-up Showcase and fundraising programming at the annual AfroTech World; and Women Founders Represent, a pitch event with All Raise offering up to $1 million investment for women entrepreneurs.
Driven by our mission to be the earth’s most customer-centric company, Amazon is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in its workforce and broader communities. This philosophy is central to everything that we do, given that our customers, vendors, and internal teams are diverse, and represent a wide array of gender, race, ethnicity, ability, age, religion, sexual orientation, military status, backgrounds, and political views. Valuing different perspectives helps push us to think bigger and differently, enabling us to deliver better products and services for customers.
Opportunity to improve equity in venture capital
Challenges in diversity, equity and inclusion in startups and venture capital (VC) are not new. Thankfully, we are starting to see more attention brought to these issues. Kauffman Fellows and MaC Ventures reported that startups need 6.7x Latinx and 5.6x more Black executives in order to match the U.S. working-age demographics. Research from digital undivided’s Project Diane found that women overall attract less than 3% of investment, while companies with Black and Latinx CEOs receive less than 1% of total venture capital. Similar challenges persist on the investor side, as well, which perpetuates the problem.
Today, I want to affirm our continued commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, by announcing the Amazon Alexa Fund (Amazon’s $200MM VC fund focused on Alexa innovation) is launching programs to help improve equity for underrepresented founders. Our goal is to drive inclusiveness and equity for entrepreneurs of color who are disproportionately underrepresented, from Black, Latinx, and Native American and Indigenous communities, to women entrepreneurs inclusive of non-binary individuals, genderqueer, genderfluid, gender non-conforming, LGBTQIA+, all minority genders, military, and former military. These programs will include startup pitch events for VC, fundraising workshops, networking, and business and technical guidance. Our two initial programs will be collaborations with Blavity’s AfroTech and All Raise.
Supporting Black founders
We are excited about our collaboration with Blavity to support Black founders. Starting with programming at AfroTech World in November at which we will co-host and feature up to 10 VC-backed startups at Startup Showcase. Participants will have the opportunity to network with and gain valuable insights from VC investors and other founders. Additionally, we will host an Alexa Startups Learning Lab for those looking to establish fundraising best practices. These events are scheduled to take place on the Founder and Startup Programming Day at AfroTech World on Thursday, November 12.
Ahead of and beyond AfroTech World, we will continue exploring potential VC investments and offer learning opportunities via the Alexa Fund, including business coaching, deep technical support, and access to the investor and founder community. Join us at AfroTech World 2020 to hear more of what’s to come.