This year’s 20th anniversary of the Inner City 100 Awards and Conference will feature a conversation between two groundbreaking individuals, Deval Patrick, Managing Director of Bain Double Impact and former Governor of Massachusetts, and Richelieu Dennis, Founder, CEO and Executive Chairman of Sundial Brands and also Founder and Chairman of Essence Ventures LLC, which recently acquired Essence Communications Inc. from Time Inc.
Deval Patrick’s career at Bain Capital was preceded by an impressive set of accomplishments. Aside from serving as governor for eight years, he was previously Executive VP and General Counsel of the Coca-Cola Company, VP and General Counsel of Texaco, Inc., and a partner at Day, Berry & Howard and Hill & Barlow. In 1994 he was appointed by President Clinton to be Assistant Attorney General overseeing the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. He now oversees Bain’s Double Impact, a fund that invests in companies capable of both financial and social successes, and he is using his multi-sector experiences to achieve lasting impact.
Until Patrick partnered with Bain to launch this unique initiative, many impact fund founders struggled to secure capital exceeding $75 million; while Bain’s Double Impact was targeted to raise $250 million, it ended up coming in around $390 million at the close of fundraising. He is now committed to proving that this model can work, both for investors and for the companies in which it invests, and says, “We are trying to show in scale that you don’t have to trade return for impact, and that long-term value should definitely include impact.” The fund has chosen three themes as its foundation of investment strategy: health and wellness, sustainability, and community-building. Bain’s success in achieving these social impact benchmarks will be measured using a ratings standard called GIIRS (Global Impact Investing Rating System), developed by the nonprofit B Lab.
One of Patrick’s first investments with Bain was Sundial Brands, a certified B Corp, which connected him to founder and CEO, Richelieu Dennis. Dennis was born in Liberia and attended Babson College, but could not return home after graduating due to political unrest. He founded Sundial Brands 27 years ago, selling Shea butter and African Black Soap preparations on the streets of Harlem, and the company has been growing rapidly ever since. One of the transformative events in Sundial’s history was Dennis’s participation in ICIC’s Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) program. The experience provided him with the capacity-building education, coaching, and access to capital that were the foundation for the tremendous growth that followed.
Part of Dennis’s success is based on his goal to “desegregate the beauty aisle,” by moving products typically found in “ethnic” aisles into the mainstream. Dennis elaborates on his efforts, “I had often said over the last two-plus decades that the beauty aisle was the last place in America where segregation was still legal, and separating beauty from ethnic only served to perpetuate narrow standards of what is considered beautiful in our industry and our society. This is why we began leading the efforts to break down those walls. It has always been about so much more than selling shampoo, or lotion, or cosmetics. We’ve always worked to advance a mission and vision to change the social dialogue about how we are looking at beauty as a society and how archaic structures and views are debilitating to the establishment of new and more inclusive ways of viewing beauty.”
Sundial’s products, including SheaMoisture, can be found in over 45,000 stores including CVS, Walmart, and Target, resulting in 31% growth in revenue, and $200 million in sales in 2015. That same year, Sundial brought Bain on as a minority partner, with Patrick playing a major part in the deal and taking a seat on its board of directors. This allowed Sundial Brands to grow with backing from a firm committed to the social entrepreneurism that Dennis represents.
This past November, it was announced that Unilever would acquire Sundial Brands in the largest natural personal care deal ever in the U.S., and the largest consumer products deal by a majority black-owned company. As part of this purpose-driven agreement, Sundial and Unilever created a groundbreaking $100 million New Voices Fund to invest in and empower women entrepreneurs of color. Dennis says, “My family and I were already planning to take our own money and start a fund focused on women of color entrepreneurs, providing not just dollars, but also expertise and infrastructure. As we were putting that together, we began partnership discussions with Unilever – and they were immediately interested in investing with us to expand the fund. So, we have now collectively contributed $50 million into the New Voices Fund and will be raising the additional $50 million in this historic effort to address some of the primary issues that are preventing the long-term success of businesses owned by women of color – namely, lack of access to capital and other resources needed to advance and grow their businesses.”
The story of Sundial and Bain Double Impact is an incredible case study of entrepreneurial growth and community impact and we look forward to Mr. Dennis and Governor Patrick’s talk at the Inner City 100 Conference and Awards. Deval’s experience in the public and private sectors, Rich’s entrepreneurial success, and their decision to collaborate for lasting social impact will be of great value to attendees.
Inner City 100 Awards & Conference
October 1-2, 2018
The Seaport Hotel, Boston, MA