Meet Divinity Matovu, WG’17
Cannabis Advocate and Thought Leader
Divinity Matovu is the Founder and CEO of Exodus Edibles, a health and wellness cannabis brand that manufactures gourmet Southern-style desserts infused with high quality medical grade cannabis and CBD derived from organic hemp.
It was while searching for a solution for stress, insomnia and anxiety that Divinity discovered edibles in 2018. With an enormous passion for baking, she was inspired to try to create her own. Divinity worked closely with pharmaceutical chemists, medical cannabis experts and clinical compound herbalists to perfect the cannabis infusion process and proper dosages.
All of her recipes are adapted from family recipes that have been passed down orally through generations of matriarchal ancestors dating back to Divinity’s foremothers Gertrude and Winnie who were both born in the late 1800s in Mississippi. Her goal is to become the “Betty Crocker of the cannabis industry edibles category.”
Divinity is a vocal advocate for the destigmatization and decriminalization of cannabis. She has built activism into her business plan with a strong social impact strategy focused on Black women’s wellness, promoting racial equity and Black ownership in cannabis, and liberation for all Americans imprisoned for cannabis.
Exodus Edibles will be launching in California soon, featuring their flagship product, the Exodus Brownie infused with Premium OG Kush. a gooey, fudgy brownie full of rich chocolate sourced from pure Jamaican cacao.
When Divinity began the MBA program at Wharton, she founded MBA Mama, which has become the largest professional network dedicated to helping MBA moms navigate family/career. Take a walk down Wharton Memory Lane with this incredible blog post that recapped her 17 best moments at school, culminating in walking on stage to get her degree, hand-in-hand with her 5 year old daughter Nyah.
Tell us a bit about your company
Exodus Edibles is a health and wellness cannabis infusion company. Our Southern-style gourmet desserts are infused with high quality medical-grade cannabis flower and organic CBD oil.
What inspired you to start your business — what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?
My own personal wellness journey with cannabis and my passion for baking family dessert recipes inspired me to start this business. After having an incredible, euphoric out of body experience after taking a homemade edible brownie in 2019, I was blessed with the vision to launch Exodus Edibles with a fresh take on the classic weed brownie as our flagship product.
What inspired you to start your business / what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?
My family’s exodus began in the 1950’s when they left Mississippi and settled in Midwestern cities like Chicago, Detroit and my hometown, Racine, Wisconsin. Since the early 1990s, I’ve witnessed my community and my loved ones negatively impacted by mass incarceration connected to the criminalization of cannabis and the war on drugs, which is why I am such an avid supporter of the cannabis legalization movement. I remember being a young girl — no older than 6 or 7 — who was terrified and traumatized as DEA agents burst down the door of my home and arrested my mother who was selling marijuana to make ends meet. This is why Exodus Edibles has a restorative justice model built into our people strategy and social impact work.
I was 17 when I first tried cannabis. I smoked a blunt with some friends from my neighborhood. I did not like it, and being a first gen college-bound student, I was concerned about getting into trouble if I was caught using it. I didn’t touch cannabis again until my late 20’s. It wasn’t until I connected with Dr. Dan Price to discuss a medicinal approach to my cannabis use that I really became educated on the healing power of the herb when dosed properly. When I discovered edibles, I fell in love and have experienced relief from stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression through my personal wellness journey with cannabis. After having an incredible, euphoric out of body experience after taking a homemade edible brownie, I was blessed with the vision to launch Exodus Edibles with a fresh take on the classic weed brownie as our flagship product.
My passion for baking developed as a child spending time with my mother, aunties and grandmothers in the kitchen making decadent desserts. I come from a lineage of powerful, dynamic Black and indigenous women who brought joy to their families and communities with sweet treats like my Grandma Martha’s banana pudding, my Big Mama’s lemon pound cake and my Granny’s peach cobbler. Some of my best childhood memories revolve around helping my mother bake cakes and pies during the holidays, and enjoying a homemade Southern-style dessert on Sunday afternoons with my Big Mama at the church bake sale.
What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?
Securing Dr. Dan as an advisor and a renowned pharmaceutical chemist as a consultant were major wins. Additionally, I’ve found a law firm that is going to guide me through the complex legal and regulatory compliance for the licensing application process to conduct commercial activity in the cannabis industry.
What has been one or two of your biggest learnings so far?
People care less about the beauty of product packaging and way more about the freshness of the product and the shelf life, structure, quality of integrity of the product. I’m currently using vacuum seal technology to package my product samples.
What is an obstacle that you are grappling with as you continue to build this venture?
Constantly and rapidly evolving legal and regulatory rules.
What surprises have you encountered as an entrepreneur? Something out of left field?
I thought there would be plenty of help for me as a Black woman founder in this space given the social equity programs available in the cannabis industry but I actually don’t qualify for a lot of what’s out there. I don’t have prior marijuana convictions and I’m not low income and I’m not focused on opening a dispensary.
It has been an uphill battle but I strongly believe in the healing power of cannabis and I expect that adult cannabis use will be mainstream in North America 100 years from now. By then, I hope Exodus Edibles will be just as recognizable in 2121 as Little Debbie Snack cakes are now.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Exodus Edibles has a first of its kind restorative social justice, community-centric business model that will provide jobs and skills-training to individuals with criminal convictions for marijuana use and/or distribution.
It should be common knowledge that Black and Latinx Americans are policed, arrested, incarcerated and criminalized at disproportionate rates for drug use and sales, despite the fact that white people sell and use drugs at the same, if not slightly higher, rate. This is true for the criminalization of cannabis as well. “Nation-wide, Black people are 3.6 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana, despite similar usage rates.”
Once operating at scale, we will create W2 jobs with competitive wages and provide full benefits for formerly incarcerated workers and their families. From our customer service team to our marketing, creative and communications teams to the front line workers baking our product and running the assembly line for the infusions, we aspire to provide formerly incarcerated workers a second chance, job and skills training, a living wage and a promising career path to leadership in our company.
Check out Exodus Edibles here!