We learned a lot whilst building our own production facility for cultivating medicinal cannabis in Zimbabwe and we have had first-hand experience of several challenging but “teaching” moments. Unlike other business operations, there is a frustrating level of complexity, due to the cannabis industry itself being in its infancy, the restrictions and best practices may change overnight. Dedicating a full time effort into cross border trade rules and industry compliancy is integral to staying on track.
Why We Chose Zimbabwe
Due to the obvious benefit of 300 days of sun per year and being the perfect climate to cultivate cannabis in, there is also easy export into the EU – our main market for our produce. There is also already a horticulture industry exporting twice a week to the continent. However, the biggest selling point for us was being able to build a project with a lower cost of operation compared to the larger conglomerates in Canada or the USA.
According to MJBiz Daily, the average price for wholesale medical cannabis is at 2.3 euros per gram.  In our production facility in Zimbabwe we can produce a high-grade, effective product for much less.
After our senior management team successfully concluded an intricate licensing process, we secured a license to cultivate and export cannabis for medicinal or scientific purposes for 5 years with the option to extend when the time arises.
If you’re looking at investing in the space, a license that is between 3-5 years is always a good indication to investors that you have thought about project longevity.
“Great things in business are never done by one person” – Steve Jobs
In order to build a business in the medicinal cannabis industry you will require a competitive edge over other global cannabis companies which includes expertise and guidance from:
- Preferably an advisory board with representations for the medical sector an MD, with a standing in integrative medicine and experience prescribing medicinal cannabis.
- A scientist with botanical and agrarian scientific knowledge and experience gained in an industrial setting with ability to oversee the development of proprietary genetics and able to scale the production of EU-GMP pharmaceutical-grade botanical or hemp produce within accredited protocols and practices.
- Financial service and cross border trade experts
- The right consultant with a reputable background in pharmaceuticals and cannabis with traceable references.
- And a great team of people that cover other functions found in every successful business, Finance, HR, Operations, Marketing, Sales, etc.
Building a successful cannabis company isn’t wise nor possible as a one-man band – you require a team that offer varied and dynamic capabilities specific to scaling and execution, thus working with the right consultancy firm that specialise in the sector will also give you the support you need early on, helping you avoid mistakes which can be costly to fix later on, especially when the rules and regulations are evolving as quickly as Apple issues updates!
Choosing the right land, hiring your expert team and acquiring a license (after a lengthy and stringent process) is just the beginning.
You will also need to consider what type of facility you will produce your crops in: an outdoor facility, indoor facility or polytunnel greenhouses. It all depends on what your market requires. Typically, if you wish to grow medicinal cannabis then an indoor facility is used to ensure you are able to meet GMP standards. Indoor cannabis growing facilities must be in an enclosed and secured facility with specialised environmental controls and protocols in place to avoid cross- contamination.
Outdoor, whilst coming with its risks of pests and unpredictable weather, it is a substantially cheaper way to grow cannabis using nature’s resources. However, you do sacrifice some of its quality as it isn’t a controlled environment.
Evaluating a potential grow space is ensuring proper climate and irrigation for your crops. Setting up a medicinal cannabis grow facility may be a complex and expensive challenge, but the rewards and financial upside are clear when exploring market projections.
So, although the estimations are promising; it’s important to remember that a medicine fit to benefit the lives of many is being produced, which is often forgotten when focusing solely on the returns.