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 the protests stir up the United States.
Described as SoftBank’s bid to improve diversity, “We have to put money behind this, set plans and hold ourselves accountable,” wrote SoftBank chief operating officer Marcelo Claure, who will head the fund, in a letter to employees on Wednesday.
Named the “Opportunity Growth Fund” and focused on African Americans and Latinos in the United States, it is, according to SoftBank, the largest fund of its kind.
It will invest in entrepreneurs “from communities facing systemic disadvantages in building and expanding their businesses,” Claure wrote.
SoftBank also manages the $ 100 billion Vision Fund, which is run by Rajeev Misra and invests larger amounts than the entire new fund in startups around the world.
In addition to leading the restructuring in the fledgling WeWork of office space, Claure runs a fund that invests in Latin America. He and Misra are seen as possible successors to CEO Masayoshi Son.
“Racism is a sad thing,” Son wrote on Twitter, ending his post with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter.
Claure wrote in her letter that Tokyo-based SoftBank was also establishing a “dedicated diversity and inclusion program.”
SoftBank’s management is overwhelmingly male, and the company plans to nominate its first chief executive officer at a shareholder meeting later this month.
While the company includes a wide range of nationalities, only four of the 30 investors listed on the Vision Fund website are women.
Companies that include foreign firms like SoftBank have made public statements after the worst civil unrest in the United States in decades, as the death of an unarmed black man rekindles the issue of police brutality against African-Americans.
Sony delayed an event for its upcoming PlayStation 5 console this week, saying “we want to step back and allow bigger voices to be heard.”