Amazon Web Services Kicks Off $30 Million Accelerator for Underrepresented Business Owners, Including Black Founders

Amazon Web Services Kicks Off $30 Million Accelerator for Underrepresented Business Owners, Including Black Founders

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Inc. has pledged over $30 million to roll out an accelerator program centered on backing such business owners to assist underrepresented founders.

A cloud-computing unit of online retail giant Amazon, AWS reported making a three-year commitment to early-stage startups led by Black, Latino, LGBTQIA+ and women founders tied to its new AWS Impact Accelerator.

According to a news release, “each startup gains $125,000 cash, up to $100,000 in AWS Activate credits, business and technical guidance, a peer community and ongoing support” to help spur their growth.

AWS disclosed the accelerator gives high-potential, pre-seed startups the tools to reach key milestones. It added that includes helping them raise funds or being accepted to a seed-stage accelerator program and creating powerful solutions in the cloud.

The new effort is needed as observers have pointed to funding disparities caused by the racial wealth gap, often leaving many Black entrepreneurs unable to gain needed funding like venture capital financing.

For instance, Black and Latinx founders raised $2.3 billion in such funding as of Aug. 31, 2020. The figure means that those founders harvested only 2.6% of $87.3 billion of all funding that founders got at that point in 2020, according to analytics firm Crunchbase. TechCrunch’s other data shows that “only 2% of all partner-level VCs are Black, and 81% of VC firms don’t have a single Black partner.”

Upon acceptance into the eight-week program, partakers “will create a personalized training curriculum from sessions offered by AWS startup experts and guest speakers.”

AWS adds, “a single day could include lessons from an AWS solutions architect on optimizing cloud infrastructure, guidance on investor pitching from an experienced startup CEO, and leadership do’s and don’ts from a third-party organization that provides support to startups.”

Amazon Web Services CEO Adam Selipsky reflected on the effort in his statements on Apr. 20.

“When we launched in 2006, AWS changed the game for startups by giving them access to the same technology as the world’s largest enterprises. Today, we continue to level the playing field so that founders can pursue their ideas and grow successful businesses regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or race.”

Applications are now open for the first AWS Impact Accelerator for Black Founders. Those founders can apply here. The program will start in June for U.S.-based startups. To get more information about the accelerator program and its offering, visit here.