August 3, 2023
WEPOWER Announces Nearly $200,000 Investment in Local Businesses, RooterMan Franchisee and Cheryl’s Herbs
RooterMan and Cheryl’s Herbs mark WEPOWER Capital’s second and third investments, with the goal to accelerate community owned wealth and create economic growth in historically divested communities.
As WEPOWER Weekend approaches, WEPOWER Capital announces another reason to celebrate: their two latest investment recipients, RooterMan by J3 Enterprises and Cheryl’s Herbs. With their previous investment in Bold Xchange, the new $95,000 investment in RooterMan and $100,000 investment in Cheryl’s Herbs brings the grand total of WEPOWER’s investments in local black and Latinx-owned companies to almost $250,000. WEPOWER Capital offers targeted investment in companies owned by Black and Latinx entrepreneurs with a strong growth trajectory to ignite economic growth and prosperity in St. Louis.
RooterMan and Cheryl’s Herbs were selected for investment because they are promising local businesses that create quality jobs in the region without a high barrier to entry, and they are run by talented entrepreneurs who expressed a commitment to create a positive community impact. Reginald Jennings (J3 Enterprises’ RooterMan) and Tiffany Jones (Cheryl’s Herbs) were both members of the WEPOWER Accelerator cohort of 2021, and both entrepreneurs will be celebrated during the Garden Party kicking off WEPOWER Weekend on Friday, August 18.
Reginald Jennings, originally from East St. Louis, IL, owns and operates J3 Enterprises’ RooterMan, a locally-owned full service sewer and drain cleaning franchise. His goal is to provide his employees with a starting salary of $60,000 so they can better support themselves and their families. Reginald decided to open RooterMan after seeing the lack of representation in the plumbing ﬁeld and wanting to give his son a brighter future.
In 2019, Tiffany Jones purchased Cheryl’s Herbs, a thriving wholesale-retail-eCommerce enterprise based in Maplewood, MO, featuring the ﬁnest quality pure essential oils and herbs available and simple products, handmade with love and care. Cheryl’s Herbs’ mission is to make it easier and more convenient for customers to have a more natural and healthy lifestyle. They manufacture products for other companies under their label as well.
”The support that I’ve received from WEPOWER, through the accelerator program and the capital investment, has been life changing,” said Reginald Jennings, RooterMan franchise owner. “Now I am better equipped to provide mentorship to my employees and to other black and latinx entrepreneurs who will be able to learn from my experience.”
Tiffany Jones, owner of Cheryl’s Herbs, reﬂected on the ripple effect of the WEPOWER Capital investment: “Because of this investment, I’m able to hire more staff, continue to provide quality products and services to my customers, and grow my business in the St. Louis area. I’m grateful to WEPOWER for seeing my commitment to helping my community.”
WEPOWER’s fund uses a revenue sharing model of investment, where monthly repayments are a ﬁxed percentage of revenue. This shares risk with the business owner while allowing entrepreneurs to remain majority owners of their companies, unlike traditional models of venture capital. WEPOWER manages the only fund in the region that uses revenue sharing to expand access to capital for systematically excluded entrepreneurs leading promising early stage companies. Traditional loans often require personal guarantees and minimum credit scores, which can be barriers for many systematically excluded entrepreneurs. WEPOWER’s fund does not seek personal collateral or minimum credit scores, instead taking a more holistic approach to underwriting investments by evaluating the leadership team and business model, the ﬁnancial health & prospects of the company, values alignment, and the potential to create positive social impact.
Yoni Blumberg, VP of Community Wealth Building at WEPOWER, describes the unique revenue sharing investment model: “Since our ultimate goal is to build community wealth, it is important to use an investment model that is both accessible and won’t remove ownership from those that are building the business. Revenue sharing achieves that by letting us take more risks than banks, with fewer barriers and without requiring entrepreneurs to give up a signiﬁcant share of ownership.” Blumberg says there are more investments in the pipeline.
WEPOWER Founder and CEO Charli Cooksey explains, “Transformative change in St. Louis requires a dynamic set of solutions that involve both changing inequitable policies at the regional level and creating economic opportunities at the neighborhood level. By identifying promising Black and Latinx entrepreneurs who are committed to improving their communities, and ﬁnancing their high potential companies, we are able to accelerate economic growth within historically under-resourced neighborhoods.”
The WEPOWER Capital fund is backed by prominent local investors such as BJC Healthcare and national investors including Common Future.
WEPOWER envisions a future where systems are accountable to powerful communities that have been historically oppressed, and nurture our freedom, well-being, dreams, and joy. WEPOWER trains, activates, and supports Black and Latinx folks to design equitable policies, organize to transform education and economic systems, and build thriving businesses that create wealth for our communities. In their ﬁrst three years, WEPOWER activated 300 community leaders, won a historic ballot measure that guarantees public funding annually for early childhood, supported 30+ businesses with access to capital, coaching, and connections. To learn more, contact Yoni or Amina at [email protected].
About WEPOWER Capital
WEPOWER Capital provides Black and Latinx business owners with “capital+” (i.e. ﬁnancial capital paired with social and intellectual capital, in the form of connections and business coaching), with a mission to build community wealth and power. WEPOWER Capital primarily uses revenue-based investing, where entrepreneurs repay a ﬁxed percentage of their revenue until a pre-agreed total has been paid back. This model is more ﬂexible than traditional loans, sharing risk with entrepreneurs and tying the investors success to the company’s growth, without substantially reducing their ownership or control over their company. WEPOWER Capital will put all net returns (i.e. what remains after repaying external investors) towards two purposes: (a) reinvesting back into the fund to make similar investments in Black and Latinx-owned companies and (b) ﬁnancing community controlled funds to resource shared political and economic priorities.