Bank of America (BoA) has officially announced the launch of its impact accelerator program, Bank of America Breakthrough Lab, aiming to provide economic opportunities to entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities.
This initiative signals a significant move by one of the largest banking institutions in the U.S. to bolster diversity and foster financial inclusion in the technology sector, aspects of great importance to small business owners.
The Breakthrough Lab offers a six-month program for early-stage startup founders, providing them with tailored mentorship, digital proficiency, networking opportunities with industry experts, and access to potential investors.
The Lab aims to empower Black, Hispanic-Latino, Native American, and other entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities to scale their tech-based businesses. The submission deadline for applications to join the September 2023 cohort is June 8, 2023.
Rina Arline, Breakthrough Lab Program Director in Global Transaction Services at BoA, emphasized the bank’s commitment to fostering economic opportunity. ”
The bank’s long-standing commitment to supporting economic opportunity for people and communities we serve is at the core of Bank of America Breakthrough Lab. We’re excited to play a role in giving emerging entrepreneurs from a range of backgrounds access to the bank’s vast resources and industry networks,” Arline stated.
Founded in 2021, the program ran its pilot phase with five startups from the New York area. Due to the initial success, it expanded in 2022 to include 17 companies from the U.S., Mexico, the United Kingdom, and France. BoA now plans to host a new cohort each year.
BoA’s efforts to advance economic opportunities extend beyond this program. The bank continues to support business owners and entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities. Notably, in 2021, the bank launched the Access to Capital Directory for Entrepreneurs, designed to help connect women-owned businesses to resources on navigating the capital landscape and identifying potential funding sources. This directory has now expanded to include Black and Hispanic Latino entrepreneurs.
The bank’s investments towards this cause have been significant. “Our investment in minority and women-led funds has a catalytic effect in supporting diverse communities,” said Tram Nguyen, Global Head of Strategic & Sustainable Investments at BoA. “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.”
Bank of America has committed $421 million to more than 130 minority and women-led funds, an investment estimated to impact over 2,000 minority and women-led companies over five years.
The Breakthrough Lab’s part-time program runs from September 2023 to March 2024. The program invites applications from pre-seed stage companies with FinTech or tech-enabled ideas promoting inclusion in sectors like HealthTech, WealthTech, EdTech, and housing. Entrepreneurs of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply, reflecting the program’s commitment to inclusivity.
To support participants, the program offers mentorship from BoA executives, 94 hours of live instruction on various business management topics, technology support, a branding package, guidance on partnering with large enterprises, and exposure to investors and capital providers, including a pitch day at the end of the program. This is offered at no cost to participants, with no expectation or requirement to exchange equity with the bank.
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