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SheaMoisture Unveils Next Black Millionaire Fund Winners at Essence Festival

Following a two-year hiatus, SheaMoisture returned to Essence Festival last weekend with its immersive House of Shea pop-up, revealing the winners of its Next Black Millionaire Fund.

When it comes to investing in the Black community, SheaMoisture is putting its money where its mouth is.

Last weekend, the brand returned to New Orleans’ annual Essence Festival of Culture, unveiling the winners of its Next Black Millionaire Fund.

In addition to hosting a booth at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the brand hosted a House of Shea pop-up nearby at The Jaxson, where consumers and festivalgoers could shop products, get their hair styled, enter raffles and attend live musical performances by Ashanti, DJ Envy and DJ Kitty Cash. 

“We’ve committed to making Essence Festival one of our main events, and that’s because it’s an event that has, in the past, really served Black women, who are our core consumer,” said Simone Jordan, global head of purpose and brand partnerships at Unilever, which acquired SheaMoisture in 2017. “We always want to make sure we’re there for Black women, and that means showing up at Essence.”

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At the festival, SheaMoisture announced the three winners of its Next Black Millionaire Fund program, which launched in 2021 in partnership with New Voices Foundation, an investment initiative founded by SheaMoisture’s cofounder Richelieu Dennis, that seeks to support Black entrepreneurs.

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“These are businesses that we’ve supported within our ecosystem before,” Jordan said of this year’s cohort. “They’re businesses that have received microfunding from SheaMoisture in the past, and now this collaboration [with New Voices] has helped us level up from micro-grants to $100,000 in seed funding, unrestricted access and more.”

This year’s Next Black Millionaire Fund winners, who will receive mentorship and $100,000 in funding, are LaToya Stirrup, cofounder of hair care brand Kazmaleje; Dorian Morris, founder and chief executive officer of skin care and wellness brand Undefined Beauty, and Neil Hudson, cofounder of Atlanta-based sauce brand Scotch Boyz. 

With the inauguration of the program, SheaMoisture seeks to play an active role in furthering racial equity across industries while elevating the talent in the Black community. The winners of this year’s program will also be featured in a docuseries, which began filming at the festival, and will depict their respective entrepreneurial journeys following their big win.

“For the last two years, SheaMoisture has doubled down on its commitment to our consumer and community,” said SheaMoisture’s CEO, Cara Sabin, in a statement. “The activities this weekend reflect our love for and unwavering commitment to the Black community as we continue to amplify our investments in meaningful and substantive ways.” 

Among the knowledge SheaMoisture seeks to equip Black entrepreneurs with is how to best poise their companies for acquisition, which the brand said is a key avenue for Black wealth creation.

“Once Black wealth is created, investments are able go even further into the community,” said Jordan. “Magic happens when you’re able to be acquired, or have an exit strategy — and it’s not just about creating Black wealth, but deeply investing and reinvesting back into your community.”

Later this year, SheaMoisture will release its first annual impact report, which will detail the steps the company has taken to further its commitment to uplifting the Black community.

 

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