Nov 21, 2019
$500K Investment Awarded to Five Minority-Owned Cannabis, Hemp Businesses

Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) and Merida Capital Partners have named the winning recipients of investment through the Inclusive Industry (“i2”) Accelerator, which will deploy $500,000 initially to fast-track the development of five minority-owned businesses.

The recipients are:

Vega Holdings — Meriden, Connecticut; $150,000 investment

Vega Holdings is the only Latino-owned holder of a Connecticut pilot hemp license, operating with indoor and outdoor facilities that produce high-quality CBD and biomass. Luis Vega, a seasoned farmer and grower with an MBA and experience in the hospitality industry, returned to his family’s roots in farming to found Vega Holdings and will use his investment to significantly scale his existing hemp farming operation and product manufacturing.

High Road — Washington, D.C.; $100,000 investment

High Road is an app-driven delivery platform that provides patients and consumers with access to licensed cannabis products through safe, convenient and compliant delivery services. The integrated, on-demand software company was founded by Jennifer Snowden, a former real estate and interior design executive turned entrepreneur. In addition to advocating for expungement and smart policy reforms, High Road hires and trains those convicted of nonviolent cannabis offenses. i2’s investment, business mentorship, networks and tools will help High Road expand its platform capabilities and propel its first mover advantage in East Coast markets.

Higher Learning Institutions — Pontiac, Michigan; $100,000 investment

Higher Learning Institutions is a state-licensed vocational school with a cultivation and extraction lab and partnership with a major university that offers affordable, hands-on job training, educational certificates, career development, internships, free monthly seminars and job opportunities and placements in the cannabis industry. After researching the medicinal benefits of cannabis for his grandmother and taking a course at Oaksterdam University and consulting for cultivation facilities, Founder Sammie Rogers realized there were no institutions focused on assisting underserved communities with affordable career development, job training and placements in the cannabis industry. With Merida’s presence in the fast-growing Michigan market, the capital investment will help launch the school, broaden its inclusiveness efforts and close important educational and resource gaps in the cannabis sector.

James Henry —Oakland, California; $100,000 investment

In 2017, James Victor and John Alston cofounded James Henry, a minority- and veteran-owned lifestyle, health and wellness cannabis brand with licenses in manufacturing, distribution and retail delivery and a 1,700 sq. ft., green-zone facility in Oakland. With proprietary formulations developed by medical doctors, scientists and extraction experts to manage pain and other conditions, the company is committed to helping the U.S. address its opioids crisis through the promotion of responsible cannabis products for medicinal purposes, therapeutic assistance and lifestyle situations. James and John have incorporated original art and social equity as part of their brand ethos, infusing a balance of wellness and culture for consumers.

Canna Bistro — Atlanta, Georgia; $50,000 investment

Canna Bistro offers CBD-infused foods out of a members café in Atlanta’s Historic West End. The company was founded in 2018 by Chef Swan Simpson, a self-trained vegan/vegetarian chef, who spent more than three decades perfecting plant-based, infused recipes and proprietary formulations. Initially, Simpson started selling $5 smoothies at pop-up retail locations across Atlanta, parlaying her loyal customer base into the first-all-CBD-infusion eatery in the southeastern U.S. In addition to incredible food Simpson serves up, Canna Bistro promotes the hiring of individuals with non-violent, criminal records, along with business opportunities for previously incarcerated women and social good efforts in under-served areas.

Along with capital investments from Merida, the three-month i2 program includes access to: MCBA-Merida executives, connections and networking opportunities; consistent, high-level mentorship and training from experts in and outside of the cannabis industry; unmatched visibility into disruptive trends, proprietary research and data; exposure to Merida’s broad team of leaders, portfolio companies and advisors; and advice on managing growth, team development, investor relations, governance and strategic planning.

For more information, visit www.i2accelerator.com.




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