$100 Million Fund for Women Entrepreneurs of Color Launched

$100 Million Fund for Women Entrepreneurs of Color Launched

ESSENCE Ventures CEO Richelieu Dennis has announced the official launch of the New Voices Fund, a $100 million initiative created to invest in and empower women entrepreneurs of color.

With the goal of ensuring that "new voices" in entrepreneurship are able to learn, grow, and thrive, the fund will provide women of color entrepreneurs with capital to start or scale a business, as well as access to a global network and other kinds of expertise. To that end, the fund will support startups, established businesses, and community-based enterprises, while the New Voices Foundation will offer resources, including leadership development, skills-building assistance, and networking opportunities, designed to help New Voices entrepreneurs achieve their vision.

According to the New Voices Fund, only 0.2 percent of women entrepreneurs of color currently receive venture capital funding, even though eight out of ten women-owned businesses launched since 2007 were started by a woman of color. In addition, women-led companies that receive venture funding outperform those of their male peers by as much as 63 percent.

Dennis, the Liberia-born CEO of Sundial Brands, said he created the New Voices Fund not only to provide financial support to women entrepreneurs of color but also as a way of "taking care of and investing back in the community" that has served as the foundation for his own success as a business owner.

"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," said Dennis. "Over the past six months, we have already either invested in, or committed to, over $30 million in black women entrepreneurs."

(Photo credit: New Voices Fund)