Former NBA all-star Chris Webber has teamed up with cannabis investor Jason Wild, founder of New York-based investment firm JW Asset Management, to create a $ 100 million private equity fund for cannabis entrepreneurs to hang up from minorities.
The fund, announced on Tuesday, will create a “level playing field” for BIPOC entrepreneurs who want to get into the booming cannabis industry but lack access to the funding and resources normally available to wealthier white founders.
“The legal cannabis industry can only develop its full potential if everyone involved has a seat at the table,” said Wild in a press release. “I believe it is my responsibility to play an active role in removing barriers to entry for individuals.” who were disproportionately attacked by the war on drugs. “
According to the press release, the fund will invest in cannabis startups run by people from underrepresented communities and provide them with an ecosystem of business resources that includes research and development (R&D), cultivation, retail licensing, distribution, branding and marketing facilitated . ”
“For too long, minorities have been excessively punished and imprisoned for cannabis, while others have benefited,” Webber said of the press release. “Working with JW, we will provide underrepresented entrepreneurs with the financial resources and industry knowledge to build businesses and thrive.”
In an interview with CNBC, Webber and Wild said the goal is to give BIPOC entrepreneurs a chance to thrive in the U.S. cannabis industry, which was valued at $ 18.3 billion in 2020.
“Some of them will have the option to go public or sell to other companies,” Wild told CNBC.
While cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, 15 states and Washington DC have legalized the plant for adults over the age of 21. Medical marijuana is also legal in 36 states.
New Frontier Data expects the existing legal cannabis markets to collectively generate sales of $ 41.5 billion by 2025.
However, much of this revenue goes to businesses owned and operated by white entrepreneurs.
Black Americans make up 13% of the national population, but make up less than 2% of all cannabis business owners, according to a recent Leafly job report.
“It is critical that we diversify leadership within the cannabis industry and create a level playing field for people in our communities,” said Webber.
Indeed, as Leafly notes, “as the cannabis industry expands, it must show a genuine commitment to justice in order for the wealth generated by this new opportunity to uplift minority communities.”
Webber isn’t the only prominent black celebrity supporting emerging minority cannabis entrepreneurs.
In November, the parent company hired rapper Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter to lead the Social Equity Ventures business and oversee an initial $ 10 million investment in minority and black-owned cannabis companies.
That same month, California-based online cannabis marketplace and delivery service Eaze, in partnership with NBA star Matt Barnes, launched the Momentum accelerator program, raising money and money for black, POC, indigenous, LGBTQ, female and experienced cannabis entrepreneurs offers commercial training.
Former NBA star Al Harrington, who founded cannabis company Viola Brands, launched an incubator program in October that aims to create 100 black millionaires in the marijuana industry.
Wild operates JW Asset Management, which has more than $ 2 billion in assets under management and has been actively investing in legal cannabis businesses since 2014.
Webber, a five-time NBA All-Star who is perhaps best known as a member of Michigan’s “Fab Five,” co-founded a health and wellness company of the same name that focuses on using cannabis and CBD as alternative solutions for pain relief and support Restoration.”
Further information can be found in the press release below.
Chris Webber and JW Asset Management team up to launch the $ 100 million Cannabis Impact Fund
NEW YORK – Chris Webber, entrepreneur, five-time NBA all-star and founder of Webber Wellness, today announced a partnership with Jason Wild and JW Asset Management, LLC (“JW”) to launch a $ 100 million private equity cannabis fund Investing in Business Led by color entrepreneurs pursuing careers in the cannabis sector.
“As our country nears federal legalization, I feel it is more important than ever to empower the next generation of cannabis leaders in tangible ways,” said Webber. “I’m very excited to be working with Jason. He is a visionary in the industry and knows the urgency of helping minority company executives in this area.”
Webber Wellness and JW Asset Management will work together to invest in under-represented entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry and provide them with an ecosystem of business resources that facilitate research and development (R&D), cultivation, retail licensing, distribution, branding and marketing. JW has been an active investor in the cannabis industry since 2014, with over $ 2 billion in assets under management, and invests in numerous industry leaders spanning multi-state operators, technology and retail companies.
Despite the growing general demand for legal cannabis, BIPOC entrepreneurs have been largely excluded from business opportunities due to social and financial barriers. According to a report in the Marijuana Business Daily, over 80% of cannabis companies are owned by whites while less than 10% are owned by blacks and Hispanics. This partnership aims to eliminate these racial differences and give color-accessible entrepreneurs access to a burgeoning industry that is projected to reach $ 130 billion by 2024.
“It is critical that we diversify leadership within the cannabis industry and create a level playing field for people in our communities,” said Webber. “For too long, minorities have been excessively punished and imprisoned for cannabis while others have benefited. Working with JW, we will provide underrepresented entrepreneurs with the financial resources and industry knowledge to build businesses and thrive.”
“The legal cannabis industry can only achieve its full potential when everyone is seated at the table, and I believe it is my responsibility to play an active role in removing barriers to entry for those who have been disproportionately attacked by the war about drugs, “said Jason Wild, founder and chief investment officer of JW Asset Management. “I look forward to working with Chris and his team to nurture talented entrepreneurs and build a more inclusive industry.”
Information about JW Asset Management:
JW Asset Management is a New York based fund manager with total assets under management of more than $ 2 billion. Jason Wild, the company’s founder and chief investment officer, is a registered pharmacist and chairman of Arbor Pharmaceuticals and TerrAscend Corp. JW Asset Management has historically found attractive investment opportunities in the healthcare and cannabis industries and actively invests in public and private markets.
About Webber Wellness:
Webber Wellness is a health and wellness company researching cannabis and CBD as alternative solutions to relieve pain and aid recovery. The company was co-founded by five-time NBA All-Star Chris Webber and DADA Footwear Co-Founder / CEO Lavetta Willis. Both have long been advocates of cannabis and CBD and are committed to disrupting the health and wellness industry with innovation, creativity, and strategic execution.