When SheaMoisture founder Richelieu Dennis sold his Black-owned brand to Unilever in 2017, many hair enthusiasts were in their feelings. But, Richelieu not only stayed on as CEO, he also partnered with the company to create a groundbreaking New Voices Fund dedicated to empowering women of color entrepreneurs. (It didn’t hurt either that his team bought ESSENCE two months later, making it once again 100% Black-owned).
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The companies first committed $50 million in seed monies to support women-led businesses. Last weekend, Richelieu made good on that promise — doubling their commitment to $100M — at the fund’s launch in New Orleans during the 2018 ESSENCE Festival.
“About six months ago, we announced that we were launching the new voices fund,” RIchelieu during the festival’s opening press conference on July 5. “I’m proud to say that we get to officially launch the $100 million New Voices Fund for women of color entrepreneurs here at Essence Festival this weekend. Over the past six months, we have already either invested in or committed to, over $30 million in Black women entrepreneurs.”
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It’s official! Richelieu Dennis, our Founder and CEO announced the $100 million #NewVoicesFund today at the 2018 #EssenceFestival in New Orleans! The fund provides women of color entrepreneurs with the access, capital and expertise that they need to grow their businesses and transform communities. #TogetherWe Can change the world!
“We are going to leverage the businesses that we’ve built—many of you know, SheaMoisture, Nubian Heritage, Madame CJ Walker—we have leveraged those businesses to generate capital to invest back in our communities and this is the first step in that journey. With the ESSENCE platform, we’ve now also formed a partnership between New Voices [Fund] and ESSENCE.”
This is powerful news for women of color — especially Black women who are the fastest growing demographic, having increased business ownership by 67% between 2007 and 2012. As woman-owned businesses boom, we need all the support we can get to stay open, thrive and become the next millionaires-in-the-making.
New Voices Fund will support those business in these categories: consumer-centered business (including beauty, personal care and health and wellness), fashion, tech and media and entertainment. Application season does not open until later this summer, but businesses owners are encouraged to create profiles now sharing their stories and funding needs.
For more information, visit newvoicesfund.com.