African-American women are beginning to emerge as leaders across all industries, harnessing their economic and political power by recognizing their collective power. Their resilient mindset is present in their growing confidence, self-awareness and rising income. African-American women are not only redefining what it means to be a woman for themselves, but are at the vanguard of changing gender roles and unlimited possibilities for American women of all ages and races.
The proof lies in the pudding and this is evident prominently in the creation of new businesses: the 2016 American Express OPEN State Of Women-Owned Businesses Report found that women-owned businesses have grown five times faster than the national average since 2007, fueled primarily by African-American and Latina women.
The number of businesses owned by African American women grew 322% since 1997, making African-American women the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S.
Though African-American women face greater adversity and are presented with less opportunity, they continue to be the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States. Some of their biggest challenges include institutional racism, gender inequalities, access to capital, and mentorship. What is even more inspiring is that they use adversity to fuel their determination, hone their talent and build their resilience. And now they are using their success to raise their visibility, share their experiences and liberate more women to take up the challenges of leadership and entrepreneurship.
Not only are women using their success to empower other women, but men are also investing in women-owned businesses and providing an opportunity for growth, mentorship, and access to capital. Richelieu Dennis is the mastermind behind leading skin and hair brands Shea Moisture, Nubian Heritage and Madam CJ Walker Beauty Culture. He's built an empire that is cross-cultural and innovative, serving countless families for over 25 years and investing in women-owned businesses. Dennis believes in the power of commerce to change the world and created a Community Commerce Program that serves over 700 women, as well as providing mentorship and funding to minority women executives and business owners by partnering with one of the top business schools. In a recent interview, Dennis shared how his challenges motivated him to believe in his purpose of serving others, "To get to a certain level of leadership and success, you have to have conviction in what you're doing. You have to have the stomach to stick to what you're doing because the challenges that you'll face, whether you're building a business or leading people, are going to be many. So make sure that you're willing to stick with what you believe in. We've been doing this for 26 years. It took me 16 years just to get our products on a retailer's shelf."
About Sundial Brands Community Commerce
With entrepreneurship being a core pillar of the Sundial Brands, CEO Richelieu Dennis has led the initiative to provide minority women executives, business owners and entrepreneurs with an opportunity to attend Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and be able to define their business strategy to prosper and scale their business. As a graduate of the Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business Minority Programs, Dennis felt that it was critical to make the opportunity available to more deserving minority entrepreneurs in 2015. For 26 years, purpose-driven entrepreneurship has been at the core of Sundial's Community Commerce business model. Dartmouth's MBE programs have now graduated 15 Community Commerce Fellows over 3 years, ranging in fields from apparel manufacturing to entertainment public relations.
Through this fellowship, candidates will be fully funded by Sundial Brands to attend Dartmouth's April 2018 program – "Building a High-Performance Minority Business" – which is committed to helping entrepreneurs adjust their business strategy and refine operations to prosper, grow to scale and benefit from other offerings. The program runs from April 15-20, 2018 and is open to applicants now.
Apply for the Fellowship
Are you an owner or senior executive of a minority-owned company with a minimum of 3 to 5 years' experience running a small business and at least $300,000 in annual sales?
Learn more and apply by March 15, 2018, 11:59 pm EST
Check out the 2016 fellows and find out how Sundial Brands Community Commerce program played an intricate role in elevating their businesses.