Ebele Ifedigbo along with cofounders Lanese Martin and Biseat Horning started The Hood Incubator, an Oakland, CA-based NPO, in 2017 with hopes of tackling a huge problem.
The NPO’s aim is to assist colorful communities that are looking to get into the legal bud trade. It’s been tough for POC, especially Blacks, to get involved. We only make up five percent of the $8 billion legal marijuana trade. SMH as if the War on Drugs wasn’t rough enough.
Blacks “have spent generations in the informal marijuana business.” What’s even crazier? Marijuana use is pretty much equal in comparison to our white counterparts yet Blacks are four times more likely to get bagged for possession of the God-given herb. The least we deserve is to have a piece of this marijuana pie as the industry is predicted to grow to $20 billion by 2020.
Sidenote: A Marijuana pie that gets you high sounds fly AF, and someone should make that ASAP. Anyways, back to The Hood Incubator’s mission. The NPO focuses on three core areas of work to increase the participation of POC in the legal cannabis industry.
The Hood Incubator’s main focuses are on community organization, policy advocacy, and economic development in order to create a “healthy and sustainable ecosystem of industry access, resources, and support that benefits, rather than harms, Black and Brown communities.”
In an interview with The Root, Ifedigbo touched on addressing the institutional barriers for POC getting into the legal cannabis industry. She said,
“Right now we have a wide-open opportunity to address these institutional barriers and shift the narrative. The key question is: How do we create a marijuana industry that fundamentally centers the interests of communities that have taken on the risks that have allowed for the legal industry to even exist in the first place? That is the work that the Hood Incubator takes on. We are working to make that vision real by centering black and brown communities in all the work we do.”
The Hood Incubator seems to be making moves as the young company managed to partner up with Eaze, a leading cannabis technology, earlier this year securing a hefty bag.
The partnership is the beginning of a meaningful commitment as Eaze promised to give $1 million in funding over the next three years towards social equity efforts in the Bay Area cannabis industry.
Martin spoke on the alliance. She said,
“We need to harness our power knowing that, as a community, we have deep knowledge and expertise in this industry, oftentimes because it was the only source of income we had when our families were shut out of formal economy jobs… Our alliance with Eaze will lay the foundation for the work that needs to be done to ensure fair policies are implemented as medical and recreational cannabis ordinances are adopted from a local to national level.”
Besides the Eaze co-sign Rep. Barbara Lee has also endorsed the NPO’s power moves. In a tweet, she expressed how proud she was of The Hood Incubator.
Incredibly proud of @hoodincubator for leading the way in #Oakland! The failed #WarOnDrugs has punished communities of color for far too long — Black and Brown entrepreneurs have every right to lead the legal cannabis industry.https://t.co/eKsr6Z54No
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) March 29, 2018
Hopefully, these young Black queens continue to grow. Thus far, through their efforts, The Hood Incubator has built a membership of over 2,000 people nationwide and have supported 10 Black and Brown entrepreneurs through their Cannabis Business Accelerator program which is the first accelerator of its kind.
Lest we mention the many accolades. Besides receiving a global fellowship from Echoing Green The Hood Incubator team were able to snag a position on this year’s Forbes’ 30 Under 30 List and were included in Essence’s Woke 100.
These young ladies are doing great things. You should’ve seen em on 420. They got high off of good vibes and put together a 420 Day of Service where they collaborated with volunteers to distribute hygiene kits to people living in the West Oakland street encampments.