A medical cannabis company based in Maryland known as Curio Wellness launched a fund that hopes to offer struggling entrepreneurs a chance at the growing cannabis industry. The Curio WMBE Fund is ready to invest $30 million towards the opening and managing of a dispensary under the Curio Wellness franchise. This offer is being made exclusively to 50 women, minorities and disabled veterans.
“We think of diversity as a keystone issue for the cannabis industry,” Jerel Registre, Curio WMBE Fund managing director, told TechCrunch.
The company was founded in 2014 and, since then, has become the largest cannabis cultivator (on a basis of market share) in the country.
“In looking at the systemic barriers that women, minorities, and disabled veterans face in accessing capital, we decided to develop a solution that directly addresses this massive economic disparity,” Michael Bronfein, CEO of Curio Wellness, told TechCrunch. “The Fund provides qualifying entrepreneurs with the investment capital they need to become a Curio Wellness Center franchisee while ensuring their success through our best in class business operations.”
As many within the cannabis industry will tell you, one of the most difficult aspects of starting a business in this market is having the capital. The majority of American banks will not invest in cannabis, leaving entrepreneurs to fork up the initial payments themselves. In turn, this has left a detrimental gap in those who are able to own and operate businesses.
With that said, it’s likely other funding projects from cannabis investors will continue to sprout in the near future. Especially, as more and more states legalize. Still, Curio Wellness is taking a unique approach in its funding endeavors.
“Our fund is unlike any other in the industry as eligible entrepreneurs will have a clear path to 100% ownership in as little as three years,” Registre notes. “Many other funds rely on a model that utilizes minority entrepreneurs as a vehicle to achieve licenses—the Curios approach flips this model by empowering diverse entrepreneurs and supporting them along the way. If something happens and an investment-funded franchisee defaults, they must be replaced by another minority or woman owner.”
This kind of business model is sure to help individuals within communities who have been hit hardest by the War on Drugs. By setting up a fund and offering it to this exclusive group of individuals—in an industry that’s already hit the billions, not to mention—generational wealth is bound to build.