Among the many issues the cannabis industry faces in the process of legalization is the need for social equity and economic empowerment for minority-owned businesses. This has been an issue since the recreational and medical market began opening up across the country. Recent years have shown a larger effort to address the inequity.
Medical cannabis company Revolutionary Clinics launched their Aspire program to help cannabis businesses in Massachusetts with expertise and financial aid. Now, they’ve launched a $4M fund that will be granted to several minority-owned businesses in the Cambridge area and Economic Empowerment cannabis license holders.
“Because the barriers to entry facing EE license holders are also experienced by minority operators in many other industries, there is substantial overlap in the need for funding, mentoring, and business services,” it reads in the press release.
The two $100K grants from the fund will be distributed to the CEO and co-creator of Yamba Boutique, Leah Samura, and owner and partner of Nuestra LLC, Ivelise Riviera. Another $1M will be granted once the program is fully launched with $500K being released each year for the next six years.
“My mission is to not only open the first 100 percent local, black-owned marijuana retail store in Harvard Square, but also to help other women of color find their place in the industry,” Samura said in the release. “This grant will help me accomplish that mission. I am very grateful for Revolutionary Clinics for their support.”
Rev. Clinics’ new program won’t solely focus on the local cannabis industry but minority-owned businesses in general, whether restaurants or services.
“We have heard time and time again that the hardest challenge for EE license holders to overcome is accessing capital, but this challenge is not limited to cannabis,” CEO of Rev. Clinics, Keith Cooper, said. “Businesses across Cambridge require funding and wrap-around services, so we want to meet that need head-on with this program.”