SoftBank to invest $100M in companies led by people of color

SoftBank Group is launching a $100 million fund to invest in “companies led by founders and entrepreneurs of color,” in the latest corporate action as protests roil the US.

Described as SoftBank’s bid to improve diversity, “we have to put money behind it, set plans, and hold ourselves accountable,” SoftBank Chief Operating Officer Marcelo Claure, who will head the fund, wrote in a letter to employees on Wednesday.

Named the “Opportunity Growth Fund” and focused on African Americans and Latinos in the US it is, SoftBank says, the largest fund of its kind.

It will invest in entrepreneurs “from communities that face systemic disadvantages in building and scaling their businesses,” Claure wrote.

SoftBank also runs the $100 billion Vision Fund, which is headed by Rajeev Misra and invests amounts larger than the entire new fund in startups around the world.

In addition to leading restructuring at floundering office-space startup WeWork, Claure runs a fund investing in Latin America. He and Misra are seen as potential successors to Chief Executive Masayoshi Son.

“Racism is a lamentable thing,” Son wrote on Twitter, ending his post with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter.

Claure wrote in his letter that Tokyo-headquartered SoftBank was also establishing a “dedicated diversity and inclusion program.”

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