July 19, 2024


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Brand Firm Supports Black Winemakers

From the 2005 founding of her intercontinental wine distribution enterprise, Heritage Link Brands, and correctly carving out an ethical function in the $300 billion wine market to her present role as president of SodexoMagic – her small business venture with Magic Johnson and Sodexo Global – Selena Cuffe proceeds to evolve and forge new paths as a Black feminine entrepreneur, organization leader and executive.

However the paths forged by Cuffe during her world-crossing 25-year replicate her concentrate and determination to addressing academic and economic inequalities skilled by people today of coloration equally domestically and internationally.

As evidenced in the course of the organization functions of Culver Metropolis-based mostly Heritage Connection Brands’ focus on female and Black winemakers in South Africa’s wine business, her partnership with Johnson and her role as director of the Council on Worldwide Instructional Exchange, Cuffe consistently uses her financial ventures and international influence to open doorways and empower some others by raising enterprise and academic options and diversifying supply chains to address world-wide and domestic financial inequalities in communities of coloration.

With her appointment as a life time member on the Council on International Relations, Cuffe, who earned an MBA from Harvard College, has established herself as a world wide changemaker and business leader. Nonetheless, even whilst an undergraduate majoring in Worldwide Relations at Stanford College, where by she received a research grant and examined abroad in Colombia and Brazil, and graduated with a bachelor’s diploma in Worldwide Relations, Cuffe’s objective of combining finance and business with her appreciate of travel and her need to make good, sustainable change for all of humanity was clear.


Pairing Wine and Company

A firm believer and advocate of dwelling life with intent, Cuffe has created her existence with precision goal, aligning her education and learning, career, enterprise ventures and interests with formidable targets of servicing a better collective very good to achieve economic fairness and equality for other people.

Even so, when asked what prompted her to leave her corporate executive task and launch her very first organization in the $300 billion worldwide wine marketplace, Cuffe’s reaction reveals a astonishing vulnerability supplied her superwoman veneer and outstanding achievements.
“It is a adore story, actually,” Cuffe advised the Organization Journal about the necessary function her companion and eventual spouse performed in her leap from company govt to entrepreneur, focusing on truthful trade and sustainability right before these types of principles turned the fashionable promoting buzzwords they are nowadays.


The calendar year 2005 was filled with leaps in Cuffe’s expert and private existence. It was the yr she released her initial entrepreneurial endeavor, Heritage Connection Models. In April 2005, she married her inspiration and the company’s co-founder, Khary Cuffe, also a Harvard MBA graduate.

She cites and credits her husband or wife as a source of braveness and motivation, supplying her the power to get the bold stage into entrepreneurship in a billion-greenback international sector, which continues to expand. The eldest of the couple’s a few young children was also conceived that 12 months, as the couple’s new enterprise took off, further emboldening them in their motivation to generate a greater, extra equitable environment for their small children.

With each other, armed with small business faculty educations and in-depth current market study, they tackled the worries and inequalities of the wine marketplace, a land-based mostly marketplace which amplifies huge racial inequities and economic repercussions fostered by antiquated techniques of colonialism, slavery and apartheid.

Right after South African Apartheid ended in the 1990s, the entire world opened to the country’s wine sector, exports spiked and the area knowledgeable a wine renaissance. Again in demand, the industry’s new technologies and viticultural advancements additional amplified the acceptance of South African wines, these types of as Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Presently, exports constitute 45% of the country’s $3.6 billion wine industry, in accordance to Beverage Field Lovers.

The Cuffes’ timing of their venture in 2005 was also in alignment with an advancing industry in a put up-apartheid South Africa, which allowed for Black winemakers, the producers of which Heritage Backlink Manufacturers ended up intent on highlighting globally.
Apartheid left massive gaps to be loaded in the marketplace.

Cuffe explained that although Black South Africans comprise 85% of the country’s inhabitants, they account for a mere 2% of their country’s $3.6 million current market. To lose even further light-weight on inequity, this miniscule share of the current market exists despite a very long history of Black South Africans encounter and improvements in the country’s viticulture and winemaking sector. Nonetheless, apartheid prevented Blacks from possessing vineyards or accessing the essential cash for distribution and growth into the world marketplace, presenting a setback the Cuffes could support them get over.

Cuffe cites the company’s means to assist these extended-time period producers in beating hurdles in a put up-apartheid South Africa and moving into the international market place as peaks among her career achievements.

“Helping the initially crop – no pun supposed – of Black South African wine producers enter the worldwide market is at the prime. Investing in the 7 Sisters Vineyards (the very first Black family members-owned vineyard in Stellenbosch, South Africa) is selection two. Supporting the Mandela relatives launch their model, honoring the royal Home of Mandela is range 3,” Cuffe stated.

Unique model addition

The addition of the Residence of Mandela brand name of wines was particularly significant for Cuffe, who cites Nelson Mandela one particular of her management role-styles and inspirations.

The Mandelas and Cuffes both recognized South Africa’s rising truthful trade wine movement, which encourages equitable trade and labor methods, group growth and environmental consciousness –positive elements to highlight in a publish-apartheid nation.

“The Mandela family saw it as a way – by the medium of wine – to assistance a regional economic climate and to tell the tale about their values and their tradition that hopefully can be lessons for other people,” Cuffe said. “We are just stewards of telling their story.”

International changemaker meets magic

With a diverse, global company occupation and history which includes an in-depth know-how of foods and beverage hospitality sectors, a 2008 assembly with NBA Hall of Famer Johnson laid the groundwork for their partnership.
Expanding up in Los Angeles, Cuffe watched as Johnson paved the way for Black entrepreneurs like herself, in addition to successful championships as Laker on the basketball court.

Off the court, Johnson is effectively-identified as an advocate, businessman, broadcaster, philanthropist and motivational speaker, as effectively as a cherished Los Angeles icon.
In 2006, Johnson partnered with Sodexo, a firm headquartered in France and a international leader in the foodstuff, hospitality and facility management expert services to extend their services in the U.S.

When a series of entrepreneurial pursuits and moves introduced Cuffe, back again to the West Coastline, Cuffe landed at SodexoMagic where by she serves as the company’s president.
On meeting Cuffe in 2008, Johnson saw in her an best healthy to lead, increase and innovate his company domestically.

“Selena’s talent and intelligence are essential to maximizing our portfolio and increasing company,” Johnson, who serves as chairman of SodexoMagic, stated.
Cuffe brought working experience and certain specializations to the SodexoMagic company, in which she oversees a $600 million business and with 6,500 staff members, of which 72% mirror range, in accordance to a company statement.

SodexoMagic presents buyers at far more than 1,700 internet sites in corporate, health care, universities, K-12 colleges and aviation with its foodstuff products and services, services management solutions and alternatives for organizations and establishments.

Time is now

In her position as president of SodexoMagic, Cuffe’s emphasis and concentrate on range, fairness, and inclusion (DEI) is critical and she is unapologetic about the urgency and need to have for companies and communities to action up their match to address financial equalities. At the helm of SodexoMagic, Cuffe instructed the Organization Journal, the business greater its numerous suppliers by 25%.

“We nevertheless have a extensive way to go,” mentioned Cuffe. “Right now, the estimate is that it will consider 222 many years before the regular Black and white households will have economic parity. We’re talking just ‘average,’ in hopes that all men and women could practical experience equitable social determinants of well being, void of racism. Prosperity enablement is the civil legal rights issue of our day.”

Cuffe stated diversification and fairness needs to come about through all degrees of a companies’ society and business functions – from the using the services of method to provide chains to escalating possibilities, equity and money investment in ventures and talent to companies’ payment and worker benefits.