Amazon and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are launching a public-private partnership to address the gender inequities that exist for women in the climate finance ecosystem and support female entrepreneurs with the resources they need to accelerate climate change innovations.
Amazon will commit a total of $53 million to help accelerate women’s climate solutions, including $3 million toward the USAID partnership and $50 million for Amazon to invest directly in climate tech companies run by women.
Amazon will serve as a founding partner of USAID’s Climate Gender Equity Fund, a new climate finance facility designed to remove systemic market barriers that prevent women and girls from accessing climate finance. USAID will also match Amazon’s $3 million investment to help launch the fund.
The Climate Gender Equity Fund will have a global focus and provide grants for businesses, NGOs, accelerators, incubators, and grassroots organizations working on women-led climate solutions. It also will fund efforts to help women access the networks and technical skills they need to accelerate the development of their climate change technologies.
As a co-founder of The Climate Pledge, a commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, Amazon will work with Pledge signatories and other companies to encourage their additional support and corporate investment in this new fund. The partnership will help advance mutual goals around women’s climate leadership and gender equity, including Amazon’s sustainability goals, the work of The Climate Pledge, and the Biden administration’s National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality.
Additionally, Amazon is allocating $50 million from its Climate Pledge Fund to invest in women-founded and women-led climate tech companies, as well as incubators and accelerators that prioritize women-led entities. The Climate Pledge Fund–Amazon’s venture capital program that invests in companies pioneering decarbonizing technologies and solutions–will collaborate with USAID and the Climate Gender Equity Fund to source new investment opportunities and broaden its pipeline of female applicants.
“As an important step in solving climate change, we must address the gender inequalities that persist in climate finance, and ensure female entrepreneurs have an equal seat at the table and access to the funding, networks, and technical support they need to scale climate solutions,” said Kara Hurst, vice president of Worldwide Sustainability at Amazon. “We’re proud to collaborate with USAID and the Biden administration to help scale women-led climate solutions globally. This is just one part of our broader Climate Pledge goal to reach net-zero carbon by 2040, and we encourage other companies to join us in this effort.”
Female-founded companies typically receive a fraction of global venture capital, and that percentage fell during the pandemic. However, research shows that female entrepreneurs are more likely than their male counterparts to innovate to address social needs. Women-led companies also generate more revenue per dollar invested and produce greater ROI for investors.
Amazon has recently taken several additional steps to advance gender equality across its value chain, including:
- Committing to the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), which offer businesses guidance on ways to promote gender equity and empower women in the workplace, marketplace, and community.
- Granting $1 million to the Resilience Fund for Women in Global Value Chains, which is investing in organizations supporting women in global value chains, including manufacturing, apparel, and agriculture, with a focus on gender-based violence and reproductive health.
- Partnering with BSR’s HERproject to combat gender-based discrimination in China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and India by engaging suppliers, factory workers, and management. These efforts have reached nearly 10,000 women.
- Investing in the Elevate Future Fund, which increases funding to women and other underrepresented founders working on climate tech solutions, as well as firms creating economic opportunity for distressed and disadvantaged communities. This investment is part of the new Amazon Catalytic Capital initiative to provide underrepresented entrepreneurs with access to capital.
- Collaborating with Greentown Labs, North America’s largest climate tech incubator, to source and engage with new startups. The Climate Pledge Fund participates in pitch events, including “Access to Success,” a community event for diverse founders. Amazon also serves on Greentown Labs’ Industry Leadership Council.
- Working with Elemental Excelerator, a climate tech startup accelerator that is a leader in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion principles in climate tech. Elemental Excelerator recently launched an Equity & Access program that helps startup founders build equity into their organizations’ teams and activities.