Richelieu Dennis has made a name in the brand marketing and entrepreneurship world as a beacon of hope for marginalized communities. After founding Sundial Brands — which was acquired by Unilever in 2017 — Dennis went on to launch various startups and brands, including Essence Ventures. He also established the New Voices Fund, a $100 million initiative for women of color seeking capital and resources. It’s phenomenal how far Dennis has come and where he is going in his advocacy for an equitable ecosystem for Black entrepreneurs.
Pushing Entrepreneurs to the Big Table
In mid-February, something historic happened in the world of Black entrepreneurs. The Nasdaq office in Times Square was the gathering point for a group of Black entrepreneurs representing brands in different industries. Financial institutions and companies going public with their initial offering are well familiar with this opening ceremony.
However, the 2023 convention features more than businesses seeking milestones garnering fanfare. New founders from the Black entrepreneurship community had a rare opportunity to be part of the meeting. As usual, the business world’s investors, entrepreneurs and other “big dogs” graced the scene.
Richelieu Dennis made sure the founders of Slutty Vegan, The Lip Bar and Mielle Organics were around to represent their brands. This was a monumental move for the brands, which gained a platform that only a few businesses get to share. In his own words, Dennis pointed out that what the business world was seeing was “the manifestation of what our ancestors couldn’t do.” These words echoed across a group of happy entrepreneurs during an outdoor photoshoot as images of their logos and brands flashed on the famed building. Dennis has always been about getting entrepreneurs in his community to the big table where the best opportunities lie.
Empowering New Black Entrepreneurs
Richelieu Dennis is the man when it comes to scaling and growing Black-owned brands and businesses. This was evident in the historic trade of Sundial Brands with Unilever in 2017. Although some critics saw it as a sellout, Dennis wasn’t short of ideas. If anything, the trade provides an opportunity for capital and resources for Black and women of color entrepreneurs. Convening his group of entrepreneurs to ring the Nasdaq bell in Times Square was the highlight moment for most media reporters. However, business enthusiasts and entrepreneurs in the communities Dennis advocates for won’t be quick to forget the trailblazing funds.
Dennis founded the New Voices Fund to bridge the funding gap women of color face when looking to bolster their entrepreneurial endeavors. Five years later, the fund is delivering the results Dennis anticipated. New brands are growing and scaling into nationwide and possibly global markets. However, Black people generally continue to pull no more than 1% of the billions of venture capital allocated each year. Dennis continues to urge his successful group to remember the communities they came from and invest back into them. The entrepreneur continues to empower brands to scale and grow their businesses to even bigger heights.
Advocating for an Equitable Ecosystem
Richelieu is big on leadership through taking initiative and proving oneself worthy of leading a team. He has founded various brands and helped scale businesses to larger operations. He also mentors young entrepreneurs and thrives in creating an ecosystem that serves everyone, especially the competent. Through his experience, expertise, connections, Essence brand and New Voices Fund, Dennis offers a gateway for aspiring entrepreneurs ready to do the work. He is big on competence and equal opportunities to allow every candidate to prove their worth and reap the results of their efforts.
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