AWS launches $30M Impact Accelerator for minority-led startups

The cloud vendor's new program will provide cash and AWS credits for early stage startups led by female, Black, Latino, and LGBTQIA+ founders.

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) has launched a $30 million Impact Accelerator, offering guidance, funding and AWS credits to early-stage US-based startups led by female, Black, Latino, and LGBTQIA+ founders.

The four eight-week programs will give founders access to various training, mentoring, and technical guidance opportunities, as well as introductions to Amazon leaders and teams, networking opportunities with investors, and advisory support. Each qualifying startup will also receive $125,000 in funding and up to $100,000 in AWS credits.

AWS is also partnering with various organizations which prioritize helping minority startup founders, including Black Women Talk Tech, Digitalundivided, StartOut, Backstage Capital and Lightship Capital.

The program will also prepare startups for entry into seed-stage accelerators that work closely with AWS, such as Visible Hands.

Minority-led startups still face an uphill funding battle

When it comes to accessing venture capital funding, the odds continue to be stacked against startups led by minority founders, with a study from Crunchbase in 2020 finding that in the US, Black and Latinx tech startup founders have made almost no progress in securing venture capital funding over the past seven years.

Research from PitchBook also found that in 2021, US startups founded solely by women raised around $6.4 billion in venture funding during 2021. This amounts to about 2% of the $330 billion total raised by all US startups during the same year.

AWS CEO Adam Selipsky said that the Impact Accelerator wants to help level the playing field for founders to pursue their ideas and grow successful businesses regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or race. “AWS is committed to helping underrepresented founders succeed and build powerful cloud solutions that capture the attention of investors and customers,” he said.

Applications for the first cohort of AWS Impact Accelerator for Black Founders are now open, with the program starting in June for US-based startups. The first AWS Impact Accelerator for Women Founders will take place in the second half of the year, and the AWS Impact Accelerators for LGBTQIA+ Founders and Latino Founders will follow in 2023.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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