Did it a;ect your family directly?
Very directly and very personally.
We lost a lot of extended family
members, but a lot of painful things
happened in my immediate family
during that period as well. I grew up
seeing how cruel humans could be
to one another. I think that shaped
a lot of my sense of fairness.
Did you think, “I’ve gotta get
the hell out of here”?
It really wasn’t “I’ve gotta get the
hell out of here” as much as “What
is causing all of this?” And what
role can I play, and what can I do? I
became very sort of socially active,
more active around students’ rights,
education rights. Back then, teachers beat the students. I didn’t think
that was right. I was very vocal
about that, so I got beaten a lot.
I saw the inequalities and injustices
around women and economics. My
mother was a single parent by then.
She was an economist in the Libe-rian government; my father died of
cancer when I was 8. I come from a
family of entrepreneurs. Both my
maternal and my paternal grandmothers were entrepreneurs. My
father and my grandmother were
actually business partners, just as
my mother and I are today.
How did you end up at Babson?
I got a scholarship. As things started
to really deteriorate in Liberia and
there were more uprisings, my
mother, Mary, just felt it was time
for me to leave. Early on, I realized
that the way to solve some of these
issues was through wealth. Because
otherwise, you’re always asking
somebody else’s permission. You’re
always under somebody else’s
So did Sundial start while you
were an undergraduate?
I grew up in Liberia at a very tumultuous time, a very violent time. We had our first set of riots that really shook the country when I was 10 years old. We had those riots in ’ 79, and then the following year we had the coup d’état. Just extremely violent.
THE INC. INTERVIEW Richelieu Dennis