Entrepreneur offers $250,000 in loans for Illinois social equity cannabis applications

An African-American entrepreneur is offering $250,000 in loans with either zero or a low interest rate to 100 social equity applicants for marijuana business licenses in Illinois in hopes of getting more minorities into the industry.

Good Tree Capital founder Seke Ballard – who already is in the business of handing out loans to cannabis startups – pledged to loan the $2,500 application filing fees to 100 social equity applicants to help them get started on the path to business licensure, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

To qualify, applicants must file their information with Good Tree by Nov. 15.

The Illinois social equity program application window will then be open from Dec. 10 to Jan. 2.

Adult-use MJ sales will begin in Illinois on Jan. 1. Up to 75 social equity MJ retail licenses will be awarded by May 1.

Good Tree, which is based in Seattle, is now focusing almost entirely on the Illinois licensing process, Ballard told the Sun-Times. Ballard has even relocated to the Chicago neighborhood of Bronzeville.

Ballard made the decision to back social equity applicants after discovering that many of them are still underinformed about state resources that could help them get started in the marijuana industry, such as a business-development fund that offers financing and technical assistance.

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