Like other African American entrepreneurs in several industries, insufficient capital is among the biggest obstacles for Black real estate developers.
That funding shortage can hinder growth prospects for those business owners and hurt their ability to compete with larger developers to win fruitful projects and cover operating expenses.
But online retail giant Amazon is hoping to help change that. It is pledging over $21 million to pilot a two-year accelerator program to help real estate developers of color progress.
The program will provide real estate developers of color with education, mentorship, and access to capital in its hometown communities in Washington state’s Puget Sound, Arlington, Virginia region, and Nashville, Tennessee.
The Amazon Housing Equity Fund’s accelerator program hopes to empower and create opportunities for developers who identify as people of color, including Black, Hispanic, Latino, and Native American individuals.
The effort aims to lower the barriers these developers face when bidding for affordable housing developments. The program’s goal is to boost the number of professional real estate developers of color who are focused on affordable housing and inclusive community building.
Amazon is partnering with local social impact and economic justice organizations to develop curriculums and networking opportunities that reflect their communities’ specific issues. They include the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) in the Puget Sound region, Capital Impact Partners in the Arlington region, and the Urban League of Middle Tennessee in Nashville. The accelerator program will initially back up to 30 total participants by providing:
- Virtual and in-person classroom instruction on real estate fundamentals, affordable housing trends, public policy, and financing best practices.
- Small group mentoring.
- Professional networking opportunities with industry leaders, researchers, and established real estate developers.
- Access to capital for pre-development expenses, such as architectural and engineering costs; permitting, survey, and site-planning fees; and market and feasibility studies.