RIchelieu Dennis, owner of Sundial Brands and #Essence, has a vision to keep the entrepreneurial spirit that once lived in #MadamCJWalker’s home strong.
He recently bought #VillaLewaro, built in 1918 for Madam C.J. Walker in Irvington, New York, and has plans to turn the mansion into an incubator for female entrepreneurs of color, according to @lohud. Dennis and Walker are both self-made millionaires who made their fortunes in natural hair-care products catering primarily to Black women.
He unveiled his plan last week for the 34-room, 20,000-square-foot mansion as being used as a think tank for women, using the space for on-site retreats.
“When people think of women’s empowerment and economic inclusion, they should think of Irvington,” said Dennis, who moved to the U.S. from the West African nation of Liberia to attend Babson College on a scholarship. “The idea is we would create a think tank where we would have some of the some of the best minds in the country thinking about entrepreneurs and the challenges of entrepreneurship for women and women of color.”
Dennis’ first order of business is to restore the estate to its original beauty then he plans to use it to hold small retreats for graduates of a program developed by the members of the think tank. With technology, it would be accessible to people all over the world.
Dennis said the “graduates” would comprise about 10-12 women from across the globe every six months who had gone through a “distance learning” course.
“We would be able to have small classes for women who have graduated through these programs to come in and spend an afternoon with each other for peer to peer learning,” he said.