ESSENCE Ventures CEO, Richelieu Dennis, and legendary rapper and businesswoman Queen Latifah told the crowd about an exciting new partnership at this year’s ESSENCE Festival.
The Shea Moisture founder announced the Essence Fund, which will invest $20 million in capital in Black makers and creators. The fund’s first partner will be Queen Latifah’s production company, Flavor Unit Entertainment, and according to Dennis, it will ensure Black creators “can own our content and not just be work for hire.”
During the discussion on entrepreneurship, which featured The Lip Bar founder Melissa Butler and The Honey Pot Company founder Beatrice Feliu Espada, Queen Latifah spoke about the difficulty of securing funding for new ventures.
“One of the most difficult things is struggling to find the capital to continue your ideas,” Latifah said. “So by supporting us, you are going to keep this engine running in a way you aren’t even going to imagine.”
The Essence Fund for Makers and Creators is just another way Dennis is reinvesting in Black entrepreneurs and creatives. Recently, he announced the official launch of the New Voices Fund, which will invest $100 million in businesses led by women of color.
“Over the past six months, we have already either invested in or committed to over $30 million in Black women entrepreneurs,” Dennis said during the opening press conference for this year’s festival. Dennis said helping Black business owners succeed is a form of empowerment.
“This journey is rooted in the fundamental belief that economic inclusion is our human right. We have to invest in each other to make sure that’s a reality,” he said.
“What many of you may not have known all these years is that when you were buying Shea Moisture products you weren’t just investing in that business,” Dennis added. “We need you to continue buying Shea Moisture so we can continue putting that money back in the community.”