Atlanta Founder Stories: Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, Founder of EnrichHer

Startup Atlanta
5 min readSep 22, 2021

Throughout 2021, access to resources for women and people of color became a focal point across the public and private sector, which rallied behind a series of movements with a call to action for parity from corporate America to venture capital. For this month’s Atlanta Founder Story, we interview Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, founder and CEO of EnrichHer, who has created a financial technology platform that helps streamline this process by connecting pre-qualified companies led by women and founders of color to capital, coaching, and community. Keep reading to learn more how Dr. Novellus is supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs and how she pivoted into the online dating market, with a new dating platform, nLove. #AtlantaFounderStories

Introducing Dr. Roshawnna Novellus

Dr. Novellus grew up in San Diego, California to parents who were both teachers. Her mom, in addition to working full time, was a serial entrepreneur and she described how her mom influenced and helped shaped some of her own entrepreneurial journey:

“ She believed women have the capacity to do anything, and she was intentional about teaching me to be in control of my own financial power as a Black woman. She was well aware of the racism and sexism embedded in our country’s financial system and knew I would need to be equipped against it early. When I was 12, she took me to investment meetings at the high school where she taught so that I could learn how to plan, budget, and identify sound investments.

In junior high, I set out to make my own money. I earned $40 a day selling candy to students. At 15, I taught paleontology to middle schoolers as a science intern. By my high school graduation, I had raised over $600,000 in scholarships after embarking on a letter-writing campaign to over 200 companies. These funds paid for 11 years of higher education in which I earned a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering, a Masters of Science in Information Technology, a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management Economics, and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering. Entering the work world without student loan debt was tremendously liberating and motivated me to pursue various ventures without fear.”

Finding the right problem to solve

Driven and focused on ways to break into entrepreneurship, Dr. Novellus stormed Atlanta’s entrepreneurial community. Focused on learning and growing a deeper understanding of the problem she aimed to solve, she consulted women-led businesses and identified the highest priority for the business owners she met: access to capital. Between the years 2009 and 2017, Dr. Novellus noted that Black women received 0.0006% of venture capital investment. This fact compared to other statistics that support Black women being the most educated demographic in the country and starting businesses at greater numbers, showed a disparity that Roshawnna was uniquely qualified to help solve with a platform she developed called EnrichHer.

“Silicon Valley doesn’t trust the entrepreneurial skills of women like me — even with four degrees. Although the tech industry in Atlanta is thriving, more resources and funding need to be available for Black women in all industries and geographies, especially those that aren’t served by venture capital. This is why I founded EnrichHER — to make business funding accessible to all kinds of founders, not just the wealthy.

There are a lot of challenges in undertaking a venture like EnrichHER. There’s the lack of education on how loans work as well as the lack of respect when it comes to women who run businesses. From EnrichHER’s beginning, people asked, “Is it a charity?” “Can women even build businesses?” “Do women know how to repay loans?” There are tons of successful women out there. Time and time again, people kept telling me there isn’t enough data that shows that women know how to build businesses, which was infuriating.

These are the same people who make the decisions on which companies get funded and get a chance to move forward. As a woman building a high-tech company, I needed resources and people with money to fund the business. Luckily, I found investors to help while bootstrapping and developing creative ways to move forward.”

Pivoting during the pandemic

Dr. Novellus noted that the pandemic brought about a different set of obstacles and challenges for her and the team to overcome. As the pandemic became more and more pervasive, the disparity in access to resources and access to funding for companies led by women and people of color posed a threat of closing a signifcant number of these businesses. Despite these challenges, Dr. Novellus and her team powered forward, developing programs and grants to continue uplifting these communities.

“During the first few months of the national shutdown, we received numerous calls for help from various business owners. Even with the uncertainty ahead of us, we developed a series of accelerator programs and grants to support these underinvested entrepreneurs and help them through this difficult time. It was gratifying to hear their stories and to be a part of someone else’s dream to build generational wealth.

Since 2017, we’ve deployed an upwards of $4 million through our platform and matched 163 business-owners to $14 million in working capital through our Accelerator. Our network has engaged with over 23,000 advocates through our digital community and in-person activations.”

In addition to buckling down on opportunities for women and people of color led business, Dr. Novellus also identified a new opportunity to help this community build: relationships. In 2021, EnrichHer launched the nLove, platform, a matchmaking platform that encourages love for serious daters through community experiences with safe and supportive connections. Through this platform, users can take a personality quiz, chat online, participate in group coaching sessions, and participate in 1-on-1 dates.

Looking forward with EnrichHer

Up next, Dr. Novellus has her sights set on sustaining the impact that she has been making with EnrichHer. She is currently working on securing partnerships with corporate impact funds, foundations, and individual funders to deploy $30 million to companies with diverse founders and leadership.

“As a company that has both a tech solution and a community of well-qualified individuals, EnrichHER is the perfect organization to be a part of the deployment of capital to these communities. We’re focused on building partnerships with these organizations so we can get more capital out to these target communities. We’re hoping to get to $30 million in the short term and increase that to $100 million per year.”


Thanks for sharing your story with us Dr. Novellus! For more exciting stories of the founders that are making our Atlanta startup community so special, share this story and stay tuned at StartupAtlanta.com.

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