“The playing field is still not level,” says Amy Margolis, founder of The Commune in Old Town Portland, Oregon, “I finally reached my breaking point of being the only woman in rooms full of men doing cannabis deals.”
Margolis’ extensive experience led her to one of her most proud endeavors in the cannabis business: The Commune and its in-house program The Initiative.
The Commune is a 4,000 square event, office and boardroom space, where cannabis women cannabis entrepreneurs thrive within the business accelerator. The space is filled with energy, inspiration, and of course, elevation. Women cannabis entrepreneurs can participate in classes, boot camps, incubator opportunities, speaker events, coworking, infused dinners, conference room rentals, and most importantly are offered the opportunity to participate in The Initiative.
The Initiative is an accelerator program specifically for women cannabis entrepreneurs and executives. Margolis developed The Initiative to rebalance the gender discrepancy in the cannabis industry.
“In this space which is competitive, capital intensive and requires businesses to be beyond nimble, having strong and stable mentors, immersive business support and access to funding is crucial,” says Margolis describing her interest in supporting women entrepreneurs, “The Initiative is aiming to be women’s educational network, mentoring system and growth facilitator.”
Margolis has had a long career within cannabis that has led her to create this intensive accelerator program for women cannabis entrepreneurs within The Commune. Named on The Political 100 and 50 Most Important Women in Cannabis by Cannabis Business Executive (CBE), and one of the 40 Under 40 to Watch in Oregon Politics by The Portland Business Journal, Margolis has long recognized the unique needs for women in cannabis.
“After suggesting [male colleagues in cannabis] add female board members, promote women in their companies and include women in decision making, to little effect, I came to the conclusion that we could not count on men to bring women along with them,” says Margolis, “I realized that women are going to need to do this for themselves and a program like The Initiative could support them and increase their chance of success.”
The Initiative is supported by a remarkable board of directors including Dr. Amanda Reiman, Dr. Janice Knox, Rick Turoczy, Emily Paxhia, Mowgli Holmes, AC Braddock, Glynis Olson, Katie Kiernan, Joshua Goldstein, Carlos Perea, and foundational sponsors iAnthus Capital and Miller Nash. The board of directors endeavors to provide leadership, guidance and broad networking to ensure the success of every selected applicant.
“This program is really for, and I am inspired by, all of the women who have bootstrapped their businesses, withstood ever-changing regulations, created amazing and innovative products, and are still here through legalization’s challenges,” says Margolis, who is also the founder of the Oregon Cannabis Association. “After watching these women maneuver through the morass of this industry, I knew we could actually create a program that would manifest meaningful and seismic change.”
The Initiative is a by-application only program, where acceptance will be granted by the board of directors. Enrollment will be open to all women cannabis leaders nationwide on September 1, 2018, with a preference toward product makers and innovators. More information can be found at www.intheinitiative.com
The Commune will be hosting a cannabis industry open-house on Thursday, August 16 at 4pm, where those who attend can learn about the space, programming, and rental opportunities. More information about The Initiative will be available.
Cannabis consumers, businesses and investors can help address the gender discrepancy in cannabis businesses by supporting women-owned cannabis businesses and their products and services, “Unless we dedicate resources directly to women-owned and operated businesses, we will never be able to fully address these discrepancies.”