When Separate Equals Hungry

A 2-part feature exploring food insecurity.

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Stop, Start Up, Burn Out

Photo Credit:
image by Nefer Kerr

Neffer-Oduntude A. Kerr is currently the Professional Development and Education Committee Chair of Illinois Women in Cannabis. As a seasoned professional, her previous experience as a consultant for the past 15 years quickly became the fuel for her success. Her unique insight to cannabis startups gives her first hand knowledge of what often causes many businesses and projects to struggle.

“Startups in cannabis sometimes don’t realize this is a pseudo legal industry, assumptions about getting loans or being able to write off items are prevalent. You can’t handle money or process payments like other businesses for example,” said Kerr.

Businesses often run out of capital sooner than expected. The expensive industry requires running a tight ship and Kerr is convinced start ups are ideal for certain types of professionals.

Kerr shares,  “people who are established financially and can invest their additional time and resources where it doesn’t take away from their regular earning and honestly those who have multiple streams of revenue, have disposable income, maybe even retirees are in ideal positions to be more successful in a startup than others.” Access to capital indeed disrupts the natural flow of financial resources. Kerr’s experience in supporting restructuring of management illuminates something more valuable than money to protect…trustworthiness.

“Putting together a good team is easy when you properly vet them, but when you have these people to help and you don’t like their contribution or disagree that it isn’t easy to let your ideas go when you don’t trust your team,” said Kerr.

She believes it is the soft skills that startups and businesses have. “I’ve been brought in to streamline operations, identification of gaps in the internal culture and to help businesses to scale, but it is the small things like micromanaging or interpersonal skills. There is a lot of pushback when leaders learn it is how they are treating people that is causing the most harm,” Kerr stated.

Decision making can be challenging for startups and consultants like Kerr have some strong recommendations for cannabis startups when hiring consultants to accomplish the 'ganja' goals. “Everybody needs to do their research, ask around, who have they worked with, what companies have they helped and did they accomplish the goals they set,” said Kerr. Time is money, talent is expensive. Social equity businesses must be flexible, protect their capital, be well versed in compliance and be ready to pivot to protect their profits.

Letter to the Editor from Tyronne Muhammad

The story of “Support Your Local Weed Man” is a true David and Goliath tale. But in this case, David has a secret weapon: the power of community. In the wake of cannabis legalization in Illinois, many small business owners have emerged to take advantage of this new industry. For decades, Black communities have been disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition. People of color have been more likely to be arrested and incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses, despite using the drug at similar rates to white people. This has resulted in a significant loss of economic and social opportunities, as many individuals have been labeled as felons and unable to access jobs or housing. Founders of the brand“Support Your Local Weed Man” fought for access to the legal cannabis industry through protesting and educating. They understand that the success of their business is about more than just making money. It’s about providing opportunities for those who have been unfairly marginalized by the war on drugs. By giving a voice and a platform to these individuals, they are helping to break down the systemic barriers that have kept them from achieving success in the past  …  so support them.
Disclaimer: The LTE does not reflect the views or positions of CNW or its staff

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About Author:

Dr. Mila Marshall is an environmental professional and journalist with a passion for advancing sustainability in all sectors. Her passion is directed towards urban food systems in segregated cities.



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