Denkyem /den•CHem/

Denkyem represents adaptability and unity. The symbol depicts a crocodile and represents the proverb, 'The crocodile lives in the water, yet breathes the air'. Just like the crocodile, which thrives both in water and on land, entrepreneurs must embrace adaptability to succeed.

Our logo, featuring a two-headed crocodile, symbolizes the strength of unity because if we fight over food, we starve. We share the same stomach. Denkyem believes in collaboration over competition. We understand that by working together, we all eat.

We believe that a thriving Black Business Community serves as an anchor to Black economic mobility. 

Denkyem Co-op is a Social Purpose Organization based in Washington state. We are a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), providing direct funding to Black-owned businesses looking to increase their capacity.

MISSION: Denkyem creates safe pathways for Black entrepreneurship and innovation.

VISION: We envision a world where Black-owned small businesses have the resources, support, and trust needed to sustain and grow their enterprises; serving as a beacon in the greater community.

Core Values











"Denkyem helped me to see my blind spots."

-Devin Stubblefield, Faith Finance Center

The Story of Our Founders

While Dion was teaching third grade, Rudy was serving on the Board of Directors at the same school. After two years of building a relationship over meals and conversations, the two of them found common ground. They were both passionate about promoting industry and self-efficacy in the community. Through this shared vision, Denkyem was formed.

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Dion Cook

Co-Founder & CEO

Dion has a background in business and education. He values community and he maintains the mission and vision of Denkyem. He is a recent graduate of Leadership Tomorrow (LT '20) and current member of the Boston Impact Initiative Fund Building Cohort. He also serves on the board of Community Credit Lab.


Rudy Gadre


Rudy Was the General Counsel at Facebook, and prior to that, the fourth lawyer hired at Amazon. He is dedicated to investing into Seattle. As Denkyem's biggest advocate, he provides financial backing and strategic insight. In addition, Rudy is an active angel investor and general Partner at Founder's Co-op.

The Team

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Mele Miller

Fractional CFO/COO

Mele has over 27 years of experience as a banking and nonprofit executive and offers Denkyem expertise focused on designing financial and operation infrastructures to scale business models of all sizes.

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Kenny Shelton

Chief Lending Officer

Kenny is an experienced professional with a strong background in community, business, and economic development who is dedicated to driving sustainable growth and fostering positive change in local communities.

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Amanda Williams

Chief Marketing Officer

Amanda is a former educator with a passion for weaving together local visionaries with resources to support a thriving Black community.

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