E-commerce giant Amazon has launched an initiative to provide entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds with access to capital.

As part of the Amazon Catalytic Capital initiative, the company will invest $150m in venture capital (VC) funds, accelerators, incubators and venture studios that provide funding to underrepresented entrepreneurs.

Amazon said that the initiative will primarily focus on the pre-seed and seed stages of venture capital funding.

Over the next year, the retailer plans to support more than ten funds and more than 200 companies, with a focus on those with Black, Latino, Indigenous, women and LGBTQIA+ founders.

The company has already invested in Collide Capital, a Black-owned seed and pre-seed venture capital fund and Elevate Future Fund, an early-stage VC fund that aims to increase funding for underrepresented founders.

Amazon has also invested in the Los Angeles-based venture fund and venture foundry Share Ventures and Techstars Rising Stars Fund, a pre-seed VC fund that invests in underrepresented founders of colour in the US.

In addition, the e-commerce retailer will provide mentorship to companies in the funds’ portfolios.

Amazon worldwide corporate development senior vice-president Peter Krawiec said: “We’ve seen incredibly innovative ideas from underrepresented entrepreneurs—from companies offering inclusive health services for women, to start-ups 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.

“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.”

Earlier this week, an Italian court cancelled antitrust fines given to Amazon and Apple for alleged anti-competitive cooperation.