For more than a century, ringing the Nasdaq opening bell has been integral to daily trading on Wall Street. And on Friday, February 17, 2023, Richelieu Dennis got to ring that bell.
The New York Stock Exchange offers this honor as a marketing perk to public companies that list their shares with them. Occasionally, it also helps charitable organizations mark special occasions supporting their causes.
New Voices Fund Began in 2018
In 2018, Richelieu Dennis, a renowned entrepreneur and investor with an impressive track record of success, co-founded New Voices Fund. This is a $100 million initiative that supports Black women entrepreneurs.
Dennis announced the founding of the Fund at the 2018 Essence Festival in New Orleans. He established it after he sold Shea Moisture and bought back full ownership of Essence Communications.
The Fund’s mission is to provide Black female leaders with an equity stake for the purpose of ushering in a new era of financial independence and entrepreneurial success.
Dennis is dedicated to empowering Black women entrepreneurs. Moreover, he recognizes their immense potential as it has propelled his own business success in unprecedented ways. He therefore launched a fund designed to provide financial resources and acknowledge their strength.
As Dennis himself says, “We are transforming our already successful enterprises—including Shea Moisture, Nubian Heritage, and Madame C.J. Walker—into a powerful capital force that will invest back in the communities we serve. Thanks to this groundbreaking partnership between New Voices Fund and Essence, with their comprehensive platform of resources and support, these investments can have an even more significant impact for future generations.”
Dennis Expresses His Gratitude
At the 2018 event in New Orleans, Dennis expressed his gratitude to those who helped him build New Voices. Describing it as an ecosystem that drives real value and wealth in the Black community, he said, “I am truly lucky to be surrounded by such support. All I can say is, ‘Thank you.'”
He went on to acknowledge the many individuals who stood by his side, those who believed in the mission to ensure diverse opportunities for all. Together they faced and overcame one of the most significant challenges of our time—accessing resources that would close the opportunity gaps between people of color and other communities.
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Dennis Has Roots in Liberia
From his original home in Liberia, Rich Dennis embarked on a journey to the United States. This eventually led him to the prestigious Babson College, where he gained not only higher education but also business acumen.
After graduating in 1991, he was unable to return to his home because of civil war and unrest there. Nonetheless, he decided not to let this setback end his dreams of entrepreneurship. Instead, he drove those dreams forward with conviction, alongside his best friend, Nyema Tubman.
They combined their common passion with four generations’ worth of family recipes from Africa along with cultural experiences in natural hair and skin care product formulations. Later the pair cofounded Sundial with Mary Dennis, Mr. Dennis’s mother. She facilitated these products coming to fruition by providing generational wisdom along the way, wisdom that led the company to success.
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He Urges Others to Invest in Their Communities
But Dennis’s ambitions still reach beyond his considerable accomplishments. Among these achievements is the sale of Sundial Brands—the owner of Shea Moisture and Nubian Heritage brands—to Unilever for a significant amount of money.
“Even after five years since the tragic death of George Floyd,” he said, “commitments to progress have unfortunately regressed. But we must not dwell on our past failures and instead march forward together in pursuit of a better future.”
He further urges others to positively shape their communities by investing in them.
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