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Sundial, Unilever officially launch New Voices Fund

After announcing the New Voices Fund as part of the partnership between Sundial Brands and Unilever, the two companies officially launched the $100 million fund at the 2018 Essence Festival in New Orleans.

The initiative, originally unveiled at NACDS Annual back in April, will make private equity investments in businesses owned or managed by women of color and provide them with the access, capital and expertise needed to grow their business and transform communities, the companies said.

“The facts about investments in women of color entrepreneurs, particularly black women, are astonishing. Entrepreneurship among women of color has increased 322%, but only 0.2% of those women receive access to the funding needed to sustain and grow their businesses. Still, female-led businesses that receive funding outperform their male peers by 63%,” Richelieu Dennis, founder of New Voices, said. “Further, the ProjectDiane 2018 report recently showed that the median funding raised by all Black women is $0, in contrast to the average seed round for all startups in 2016 being $1.14 million. In addition, black women raised just 0.0006% of the total $424.7 billion in tech venture funding since 2009. This is unacceptable. It is why the Fund is focused on making equity investments and creating an ecosystem that empowers women of color entrepreneurs to reach their full potential by addressing three of the most pertinent issues preventing their long-term success — access, capital, expertise.”

The New Voices Fund also will deploy and raise additional capital to support women of color entrepreneurs as they build and advance their business. Since the initiative's soft launch in February, it has invested in Beauty Bakerie, Beautycon Media, Envested, McBride Sisters Wine, Mented, Sweeten, The Honey Pot Company and The Lip Bar.

“The needs of women of color entrepreneurs span the entire spectrum,” Dennis said. “So, it was critical that we acknowledge and address those needs beyond just capital. The New Voices ecosystem will seek to ignite long-term social change and create a society and economy that support and value entrepreneurial women of color for their significant and innovative contributions today and tomorrow.”

Essence Magazine also has been named a strategic partner that will collaborate with the fund across on-and-offline activations, platforms and content, the companies said.
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