In support of entrepreneurs-of-color to enter the infused cannabis marketplace, the City of Oakland has announced a $250,000 contract to EquityWorks! Incubator shared kitchen. This is the nation’s first state-funded cannabis manufacturing incubator for social equity cannabis operators. These funds will support the incubation of five (5) Equity Fellows.
The co-founder of EquityWorks! Incubator, Amber E. Senter, is an entrepreneur and advocate for cannabis equity. She is CEO of Breeze Distro, co-founder of Supernova Women and as a Black woman herself, has the first-hand experience about the challenges for entrepreneurs of color. Senter notes that “this program is the first of its kind. It was created to eliminate the high barriers of entry to the industry. There is a lot of creative innovation in the community, I don’t want a lack of funds or knowledge to be the reason why someone doesn’t act on developing a product or idea. It’s my hope that by eliminating these barriers and providing a pathway to success, this program will not only launch businesses, and create jobs but also change lives.”
Barriers To Entry
The barriers to cannabis manufacturing operations are high due to extensive infrastructure and regulatory requirements for producing and marketing edible and infused cannabis products. People of Color (POC) have been engaging in recipe development, extraction and consumption of infused cannabis products for decades. Black and Brown-owned cannabis brands reportedly only represent 3% of the cannabis companies in California. The edibles category is California’s fastest and largest growing cannabis segment with 20% year over year growth.
The goal of EquityWorks! Incubator is to train, empower, and build capacity for full engagement in the cannabis market, especially for communities who have been historically targeted by the War on Drugs to break into the legal cannabis industry. The one (1) year program will ensure each Equity Fellow obtains a state license and it also eliminates barriers for market entry in three (3) key ways:
1) Lowered Overhead Costs:
○ Provide each business with 1,200 sq ft of commercial kitchen space
○ Deliver workshops, training and skillshare on sourcing, infusions, compliance, marketing and distribution
○ Supply a guaranteed distribution channel to retail shelf-space, thereby taking the product to market
Aspiring Equity Fellows can apply to EquityWorks! Incubator at
https://www.oaklandcannabiskitchen.com/application. Applications are due Oct. 2, 2020.