Imagine you are a cannabis entrepreneur in a newly legal marketplace, anywhere in the Americas. What are two things you probably need more than anything to get started, besides product? Money. And knowledge. Cannabis entrepreneur Carol Ortega Algarra works to helped build access to both.
Algarra is from Colombia, where she earned a BD in both Finance and Accounting at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Her California- and Colombia-based Muisca Capital Group is the first Latino investment management firm focused on legal, medicinal cannabis.
Access to capital is the base of any business’ success in a capitalist system, and people of color are historically more likely to have trouble finding that access. Despite using cannabis at about the same rates, people of color in the US, only about 30% of the population, make up a full 50% of cannabis-related arrests, even in now-legal states, and entrepreneurs of color tend to have more trouble getting started in the industry. In Latin America, much of the legal cannabis industry is currently driven by North American businesses and firms, rather than local entrepreneurs, which means profits rarely stay in the area. Algarra wants those profits to stay in the community and be a part of elevating marginalized groups rather than suppressing them.
To combat these problems, Algarra founded Muisca Capital Group, which works to help build inclusivity, equality, and knowledge while fighting stigma, fear, and misinformation. Muisca works to connect Latino entrepreneurs with funding, investors, and that much needed capital.
Algarra also founded the Colombian Cannabis Entrepreneurs Network, (RECC), a nonprofit that works to empower the Latino cannabis community with business assistance and education. Their event, CannaCiencia, is suitably called the Cannabis Science Symposium of the Americas. From old myths and stigmas to just plain misinformation, the gap between the science of cannabis and the industry that cultivates and sells it is too wide. According to their website, CannaCiencia is designed to “provide state-of-the-art education and training on the world advancements in the medicinal cannabis field.”
Through speakers, training opportunities, networking, and more, the event works to promote science, research, investment, and good practices in the cannabis industry of the Americas. Speakers include doctors, researchers, policy makers, and “industry insiders,” working to bring more education and training on cannabis science to the industry.
Together Algarra and her peers are working to close the gap between the cannabis industry and the critical science behind it, and help Latinas find the much-needed networks, communities, funds, and information they need to succeed.
CannaCiencia happens this May 3rd and 4th in Bogota, Colombia. The day before (May 2nd) is also their Cannabiz Latino Hub, the first cannabis investment summit in Latin America, at which Ortega Algarra will also be speaking.
Tickets to CannaCiencia start around $25 for basic passes and individual events, like a Women’s Networking Breakfast, and up to $156 for full packages.
Cyn Marts is an east-coast Boricua living on the west coast, searching for her own path through life’s bullshit. She spends her time practicing self-care, devouring pop culture, and working as a publicist and editor in Portland, Oregon. She writes a cannabis lifestyle zine series called Ganja Bruja and posts about it under her Instagram.