SHEAMOISTURE FOUNDER LAUNCHES $100 MILLION FUND FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS OF COLOR AT ESSENCE FESTIVAL
SheaMoisture haircare and skincare products founder Richelieu Dennis has announced a $100 million fund for women entrepreneurs of colour at the 2018 Essence Festival. The announcement surrounds the New Voices Fund that he’s been prepping for the past year.
“About six months ago, we announced that we were launching the new voices fund,” Dennis told the audience at the press conference during the Essence Festival. “I’m proud to say that we get to officially launch the $100 million New Voices Fund for women of colour 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.”
As reported previously, Dennis sold SheaMoisture to Unilever in 2017. As part of the deal, he vowed to use the capital to create an investment fund for minority entrepreneurs, specifically women of colour. Unilever and Sundial Brands, creators of SheaMoisture, agreed to contribute an initial investment of $50 million to the fund.
In addition to creating the fund to provide investment opportunities, Dennis wants to equip entrepreneurs with other resources to help contribute to the success of their companies.
“We are going to leverage the businesses that we’ve built—many of you know, Shea Moisture, Nubian Heritage, Madame CJ Walker,” he said.
There has been a push of late to find ways to invest and provide women of colour the funding they need to launch businesses. Women founders received less than 3% of venture capital dollars in 2018. Investment in black female founders—who in recent years have been starting businesses at higher rates than any other group, so they’re not hard to find—was barely discernible, at .02%.
Recently, Arlan Hamilton, founder and managing partner of the venture fund Backstage Capital, announced that her new $36 million funds will invest exclusively in black women-led startups.