Cannabis marketplace Eaze and partners Ultranative and Bail Capital announced the launch of Momentum, a business accelerator to cultivate the growth and success of underrepresented cannabis business founders. Access to capital is one of many enormous barriers for new entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry. The Momentum program is a small but important step in addressing that issue.
The inaugural class will include 10 participants who will receive a $50,000 grant; participate in a 10-week education program led by 40 industry volunteer experts; and have access to Eaze’s ecosystem of business, marketing and retailer resources. At Momentum’s conclusion, participants will pitch to industry-defining investors for the opportunity to raise additional funds to grow their businesses.
“Starting a new cannabis business can be especially challenging for entrepreneurs who have been historically marginalized or victimized by the War on Drugs,” said Jen Lujan, Director of Social Impact at Eaze. “All cannabis operators have a responsibility to help build a diverse and equitable industry, and Momentum is another way Eaze and our partners are supporting this important goal.”
Licensed founders -- and those in the process of applying for licenses -- who have faced social and economic barriers to entering the legal cannabis market are eligible to apply at Eaze.com/momentum. Applicants will be evaluated on a combination of potential for success, lived experience, and current barriers to entry. Applicants with THC businesses must be licensed through state and local jurisdictions; CBD businesses must be a part of the Federal hemp pilot program.
An advisory committee of investors, community advocates, and business leaders who have worked to create a diverse and equitable industry will evaluate applicants and choose Momentum’s participants. The committee includes:
• Cannaclusive Co-Founder Mary Pryor
• California Urban Partnership CEO Malaki Seku Amen
• CEO of Make Green Go La Wanda Knox
• Padre Mu Delivery and Distribution co-founder and SF Equity Working Group co-founder • Ramon Garcia
• Ultranative Co-Founder Ford Smith
• Bail Capital Partner Zack Carpenter
• Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Steve Hawkins
• Leune CEO Nidhi Lucky Handa
“We see a huge opportunity to partner with Momentum as part of our efforts to build a diverse industry, while providing support and resources that small businesses in the cannabis industry need to become more profitable and sustainable,” said Smith.
“Momentum creates an exciting opportunity to build and expand relationships between founders and industry leaders working together to form a strong and equitable cannabis industry. We’re honored to partner with Eaze to support unique brands, increase revenue for impacted communities, and ultimately achieve greater diversity in cannabis culture,” said Amen.