It’s been a busy few months for Richelieu Dennis, the founder of Sundial Brands. After selling Sundial, the personal-care products company he founded, to Unilever in late November, he kicked off 2018 by buying Essence, the storied black culture magazine, from Time Inc., returning the magazine to black ownership. “I’m very focused on giving back, investing and growing my community,” Dennis told the New York Times. “This is a continuation of my quest to do that.”
Dennis, a native of Liberia (and pictured above), is making his mark in other ways. The following article by B Lab’s Jay Coen Gilbert explores the unusual deal sweetener that Richelieu negotiated as part of his agreement with Unilever. #MoreOfThisPlease!
Just after Thanksgiving, Unilever announced its acquisition of Sundial Brands, a $240 million portfolio of personal care brands serving the growing new majority market. SheaMoisture, Sundial’s best-known brand, burst out of the “ethnic aisle” years ago and has found its soaps, lotions and shampoos in bathrooms of every shade, including mine.
While I was excited to learn about Unilever’s fourth B Corp acquisition in the last 12 months, and fifth overall — joining U.S.-based Seventh Generation, U.K.’s Pukka, Brazil’s Mae Terra, and of course, Ben & Jerry’s — I was most excited to learn about an unusual, if not unprecedented part of the deal.
As part of the agreement, and the latest example of how to sell without selling out (see past articles on Seventh Generation and New Chapter), Unilever and Sundial are creating the New Voices Fund with an initial investment of $50 million to empower women of color entrepreneurs. The intention is to scale the Fund to $100 million by attracting investments from other interested parties. That’s $50 million dollars already committed to pay it forward.[…]
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