Former National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Chris Webber has launched a $100 million cannabis-focused private equity fund to invest in companies led by entrepreneurs of color. The fund is in partnership with Jason Wild and his firm JW Asset Management LLC.
JW has actively invested in the cannabis space since 2014 with over $2 billion in assets under management, investing in numerous industry leaders spanning multi-state operators, technology, and retail companies, according to a press release.
Webber, who founded Webber Wellness as part of the partnership, said it is “crucial that we diversify leadership within the cannabis industry and level the playing field for people from our communities.”
“As our country moves closer to federal legalization, I believe it is more important than ever to empower the next generation of cannabis leaders in a tangible way. I’m thrilled to team up with Jason on this endeavor – he’s a visionary in this industry and understands the urgency of supporting minority business leaders in this space.” – Webber in a statement
Wild, founder and chief investment officer of JW, said “the legal cannabis industry can only grow to its full potential when all stakeholders have a seat at the table.”
“…I feel that it is my responsibility to play an active role in eliminating barriers to entry for individuals that have been disproportionately targeted by the War on Drugs,” Wild said in a statement. “I look forward to partnering with Chris and his team to elevate talented entrepreneurs and build a more inclusive industry.”
According to a Marijuana Business Daily report, more than 80% of cannabusinesses are owned by White people, with just 10% owned by Black and Hispanic people.
Webber joins several former NBA players in the cannabis space, including Viola Brands CEO Al Harrington, who also operates an industry incubator program for Black industry entrepreneurs and partnered with former teammate Larry Hughes on two dispensaries and a cultivation and processing center in St. Louis, Missouri; John Salley, who owns Deuces22, a stake in GreenSpace Labs, and an industry insurance plan; and Shawn Kemp who holds an ownership stake in a dispensary the bears his name.
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