BofA Offers ‘Breakthrough’ to Underrepresented Startups

Bank of America (BofA) has launched an accelerator program to support entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities.

The banking giant’s Breakthrough Lab, announced Tuesday (May 16), is a six-month program that offers early-stage tech startups mentorship, digital expertise, networking with industry experts and access to potential investors.

“Our investment in minority and women-led funds has a catalytic effect in supporting diverse communities,” Tram Nguyen, global head of strategic and sustainable investments at BofA, said in a news release provided to PYMNTS.

“Each time we support a minority-led fund, they in turn support diverse entrepreneurs, which ultimately helps us to achieve our goal of advancing economic opportunity. Each cohort of Breakthrough Lab founders plays a critical role in helping us to drive progress.”

According to the release, the program is open to “Black, Hispanic-Latino, Native American and other entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities so that they can scale up their technology-related businesses.”

BofA said the deadline to apply for the program is June 8, with the program set to begin in September.

The bank debuted a pilot version of the program in 2021 with five New York City-area startups before expanding it to 17 companies from the U.S., Mexico, the U.K. and France.

Breakthrough is one of a number of programs offered by tech and finance companies to help Black and Latino entrepreneurs.

In March, Square and Social Change Fund United launched Forward, an incubator program that provides funding, mentorship and coaching.

Last October, Amazon debuted a new initiative called Catalytic Capital designed to support venture capital (VC) funds, accelerators, incubators and venture studios that fund entrepreneurs from marginalized environments.

And in March of last year, BofA contributed to a fund established by Overlooked Ventures that was set up to help diverse founder teams with one or more founders that come from a group that has been historically ignored.

Elsewhere on the financial inclusion front, FICO last week introduced a pair of services to help lenders make better credit decisions.

The analytics company’s Inclusion Accelerator Program and Financial Inclusion Lab were created to promote lender use of alternative data solutions, part of FICO’s Global Financial Inclusion Initiative.

“As a longtime innovator in the use of alternative data in credit scores, FICO’s Inclusion Accelerator Program and Financial Inclusion Lab will be a catalyst in enabling the lender community to foster broader alternative data adoption, and enable a more inclusive lending system rooted in accessibility,” the company said in a news release.


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