(This is an abridged version of a story that appears in the March issue of Marijuana Business Magazine.)
When Seke Ballard founded Good Tree Capital, his goal for the Seattle-headquartered online platform was to raise funds from accredited investors and, in turn, use that money to underwrite loans for small, licensed cannabis companies around the United States.
Since Good Tree Capital kicked off its lending program in 2017, it has averaged $75,000 per loan with a high of $250,000.
Cannabis companies in California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington state have been benefactors of the program.
The firm’s objective is to rethink the traditional methods financial institutions have used in doling out funds and instead rely more on data and less human bias.
The latter factor has been key in Illinois, where Good Tree Capital has been an active participant in the social equity program set up for the state’s cannabis businesses.
In Ballard’s mind, the typical reliance on loan officers in the process of underwriting small-business loans is far from efficient and ripe for problems.
Ballard spoke with Marijuana Business Magazine about Good Tree Capital’s lending program, including:
- Why he believes the firm’s business model can help affect changes in the cannabis industry.
- How the program works to avoid unequal treatment for people of color.
- Why he chose cannabis to launch his new lending model.
- How the current capital environment in the cannabis industry affects companies’ ability to raise money.