When some stars reach the end of their life, they explode. The cosmic event — known as a supernova — emits light so bright that it can outshine entire galaxies. Though it results in the death of the star, it’s a source of enrichment for the universe. Supernova Women, an Oakland-based nonprofit organization, takes their namesake and inspiration from that sprawling surge of energy.
“Essentially, [a] supernova is an explosion of energy that [helps] form other galaxies,” explains Amber E. Senter, co-founder and executive director of the organization. The dynamism of Senter’s organization helps launch other businesses and projects in the Bay Area and beyond. Supernova Women was founded in Oakland in 2015 with the mission to empower and create opportunity for people of color in the cannabis industry nationwide. Its co-founders — Senter, Nina Parks, Sunshine Lencho and Andrea Unsworth — formed the nonprofit while working on their own respective projects in the cannabis industry.
They’d meet to smoke near Lake Merritt or the Bay to discuss issues in the industry. “The industry was very white,” Senter says, “so we decided to use our knowledge and our talents to help get as many black and brown people involved in the industry as possible.”
Supernova Women aims to lower the barrier of entry into the industry by raising funds and awareness through advocacy, education and networking events. They work with other groups, including the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) and local incubators; the group was one of the first to work with the state and the individual cities of Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles to implement equity programs. Recent efforts include helping delivery businesses added as a type of cannabis license in California.
“ …we decided to use our knowledge and our talents to help get as many black and brown people involved in the industry as possible.” – Amber E. Senter, Supernova Women co-founder and executive director
The organization’s panel discussions feature Bay Area ganjapreneurs such as San Francisco-based attorney Kyndra Miller and Kiki Taylor, who co-owns the iCANN Berkeley dispensary alongside her mother, Sue Taylor. In 2019, Supernova Women plan to focus attention on linking people with capital. “Networking is important because folks need access to capital,” Senter illustrates. “Money is the most important piece of the puzzle — if there’s no money, there’s no business.”