Equity and Access: Meet The Hood Incubator

Photo from  The Root

Photo from The Root

by TJ Thompson, NCF Staff Writer

National Cannabis Festival is excited to partner with The Hood Incubator for our CannaTank business pitch competition. What is The Hood Incubator? We’re glad you asked.

The Hood Incubator is a community-centered non-profit organization dedicated to creating entrepreneurship opportunities for people of color and others adversely impacted by the war on drugs. Based in Oakland, they launched in 2017.

When one first lands on The Hood Incubator’s website, they will recognize the inclusiveness of the organization. Co-Founders Lanese Martin, Ebele Ifedigbo, and Biseat Horning all identify their preferred gender pronouns in their About Us profiles. Further, all three are well educated and immersed in community business.

Co-Executive Director Martin holds an M.B.A. from Dominican University of California while Co-Executive Director Ebele’s M.B.A. is from Yale. They also have years of experience working in Bay Area politics and communities.

These co-founders have come together to create an entrepreneurship program for people of color in the legal cannabis industry focused on three key areas. These areas are community organizing, policy advocacy, and economic development.

Through economic development, The Hood Incubator empowers people of color as workers, owners, and investors in cannabis businesses within their communities. This allows fellows to transition from underground business models to legal, revenue generating members of their communities.

Another area of focus in this incubator model is policy advocacy. The Hood Incubator focuses on educating and mobilizing Black and Brown communities within the overall cannabis community, advocating for cannabis policy regarding issues important to people of color. This model also engages communities of color, organizing around the power and economic opportunity in the burgeoning cannabis industry.

Utilizing these three key areas, The Hood Incubator accepts fellows in its annual business accelerator program. This program provides fellows with mentorship and education in creating their cannabis business plans.

National Cannabis Festival spoke with 2017 Fellow, Jacqueline Patterson. Patterson was accepted into the program, although she is White. “My experience with The Hood Incubator began when I responded to an ad seeking people who had been marginalized and were working or wanted to work in the cannabis industry.”

Patterson lives with cerebral palsy and has been adversely affected by cannabis laws, causing her to be a medical cannabis refugee. In her pitch at the end of the inaugural accelerator fellowship in 2017, she spoke of how she desires to serve those in her community unable to drive to dispensaries by starting a cannabis delivery service. Patterson and her business partner also desire to educate medical cannabis users on the variety of products available.

When asked to reflect upon her experiences in the first fellowship class Patterson said, “For me, being in the first round of Fellows was one of the most challenging rewarding experiences of my life.”

The Hood Incubator is sharing their knowledge and experience with National Cannabis Festival in producing the 2018 CannaTank business pitch competition Saturday April 21. Join us on the festival grounds in the RFK Stadium parking lot to see the pitches from our finalists and learn who survive the 2018 CannaTank and take home the prize package.

Caroline Philips