As the founding partner of IFundWomen of Color, Caress invested $1,000,000 over the past two years to fund, support and elevate women of color entrepreneurs and small business owners. This money will give them access to the education, tools, resources and funding to take their dreams to the next level. Women aren’t stopping on their paths to turning their dreams to reality, and Caress isn’t stopping their support either. This year, Caress has recommitted an additional $750,000 to IFundWomen of Color with the 2022 Dreams to Reality Fund.
Caress knows that there is much to do to support these diverse women entrepreneurs in 2022. The funding gap for women of color founders is significant. So is the disproportionate impact of the pandemic and racial injustice on diverse small business owners. We’ve also seen millions of American women exit the workforce during the Great Resignation. Many women don’t have access to appropriate childcare and experience inflexible working conditions. The name “She-cession” reflects the decline in female employment across the country. It has encouraged many women, especially women of color, to take their entrepreneurial aspirations to the next level. However, according to research from Caress and IFundWomen of Color, a majority 76 percent of women of color small business owners say they need more fundraising guidance overall, and struggle to think of ways to raise and leverage capital for their businesses.
Prioritizing self-care for entrepreneurs
As part of their renewed commitment, the 2022 Caress Dreams to Reality Fund will bring 60 founders through crowdfunding accelerator programs culminating in a $5,000 grant for each business, opportunities to pitch, plus the coaching and creative services needed to execute successful fundraising campaigns. Applications for the first cohort, which will support 30 diverse founders, are open through March 4, 2022.
Additionally, as presenting sponsor, Caress will fund honorees of IFundWomen of Color’s annual Women’s History Month Pitch Competition. The grand prize winner and first runner-up will receive $20,000 and $10,000 business grants, respectively. They will also receive annual coaching memberships. Two additional runner-ups will also receive annual coaching memberships to provide them with education and access to resources from the IFundWomen of Color platform to expand their business acumen.
According to research from Caress and IFundWomen of Color, self-care is key to maintaining the strong mind and body one needs to run a business. Ninety-five percent of those surveyed agreed that they feel more empowered when they take time to care for themselves. One-in-three entrepreneurs say they often find creativity in the shower. “Caress believes that sensorial experiences spark creativity. This is what inspires our belief that no good idea should ever go down the drain. We’re proud of our ongoing support and funding of women of color entrepreneurs, and together with IFundWomen of Color, we’re committed to fighting systems of inequity to ensure these diverse entrepreneurs have a strong foundation to turn their dreams into reality and are set up for long-term success,” said Karen Laker, Marketing Director of Elida Beauty.
Supporting women during the She-cession
Women, especially women of color, are more likely to launch new ventures and pursue their passion projects. Every day, women start 1,800 new businesses in the United States. Women of color launch 89 percent of these businesses. Unfortunately, less than 1 percent of women of color receive venture funding for new ventures. Over 70 percent of female founders cite a lack of access to capital as the number one barrier to starting a business.
“It’s no secret that these past couple of years have been challenging, especially for diverse female founders. Many women have exited the traditional workforce, and the She-cession – exacerbated by the strains of the pandemic – has encouraged women, especially women of color, to pivot and embark on their own entrepreneurial journey. Since launching IFundWomen of Color in January 2020, our founding partner Caress has supported women of color small business owners to pursue their dreams with confidence by providing the necessary capital to pay off business debt, develop new products, market to new customers, and more,” said Olivia Owens, Creator and General Manager of IFundWomen of Color, the leading platform for diverse entrepreneurs to raise capital.
For more information on the Caress and IFundWomen of Color partnership, and to apply for the Caress Dream to Reality Fund, please visit ifundwomen.com/woc.
Caress is a U.S. Unilever beauty brand and trusted name for more than 30 years. It champions products that give women gorgeous skin they will want to flaunt. Offering an exceptional variety, Caress beauty bars and body washes leave your skin feeling instantly moisturized. They are paired with exquisite fragrances so women can have it all. Caress has been committed to creating products that turn every shower into a fully immersive sensorial experience – moments that are proven to spur creativity. It’s what inspires Caress’ belief that no great idea should go down the drain. Caress is committed to helping women, particularly women of color, take their ideas from dreams to reality. Visit www.caress.us for more information.
About IFundWomen of Color
Launched in January 2020, IFundWomen of Color is a platform dedicated to advancing BIPOC entrepreneurs through access to capital, coaching and lucrative connections specifically needed for women of color to launch and grow successful businesses. After its first year in existence, IFundWomen of Color leveled the funding field across the IFundWomen platform. Learn more at www.IFundWomen.com/woc.
About Unilever North America
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care and Foods & Refreshment products. The brand appears in over 190 countries and 2.5 billion people use our products every day. We have 149,000 employees and generated sales of €50.7 billion in 2020. Over half of our footprint is in developing and emerging markets. We have around 400 brands found in homes all over the world. In the United States and Canada, the portfolio includes iconic brands such as Dove, Knorr, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Magnum, Axe, Ben & Jerry’s, Degree, Dollar Shave Club, Q-tips, Seventh Generation, St. Ives, Suave, TRESemmé and Vaseline.
Our vision is to be the global leader in sustainable business and to demonstrate how our purpose-led, future-fit business model drives superior performance. We have a long tradition of being a progressive, responsible business. This tradition goes back to the days of our founder William Lever. Lever launched the world’s first purposeful brand, Sunlight Soap, more than 100 years ago. That brand is at the heart of how we run our company today.
The Unilever Compass, our sustainable business strategy, is set out to help us deliver superior performance and drive sustainable and responsible growth, while:
- improving the health of the planet;
- improving people’s health, confidence and wellbeing; and
- contributing to a fairer and more socially inclusive world.
While there is still more to do, we are proud to have been recognized in 2020 as a sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and – for the tenth consecutive year – as the top-ranked company in the 2020 GlobeScan/SustainAbility Sustainability Leaders survey.
Learn about how leaders can navigate diversity and inclusion in a time of crisis.