Zimbabwe is one of the countries to have legalised cannabis for medical purposes and London-based Eco Equity aims to take advantage of the opportunity.
Jon-Paul Doran, Eco Equity’s chief executive, wants to build a state-of-the-art facility to grow pharmaceutical-grade cannabis for export.
Zimbabwe started the process of licensing growers for export in 2018, with the first licence awards being made earlier this year.
Eco has been granted clearance to cultivate, harvest and export medicinal cannabis from a greenhouse outside Harare.
Partners involved in the project include Dutch greenhouse specialist DutchGreenhouses and Australian cannabis group Delta Tetra, which is helping Eco Equity with its application for GMP (good manufacturing practice) accreditation.
GMP accreditation is essential if the company wants to export into Europe, says Doran, as are having the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place to guarantee consistency and quality.
Doran left Zimbabwe for the UK when he was six but still has a lot of affinity for the country and says he is keen to ensure that the local community is both involved and shares in the benefits.
“It's an important project to me personally because it's going back to the country of my birth,” he told Proactive.
Construction of the project is ‘not likely to see much change from £10mln’, he adds, with the end market to be pharma companies and other medically licensed companies within the European Union.
Doran has tentatively pencilled in the second quarter of 2020 for exports to start, though he emphasises the essential thing is to make sure Eco Equity executes on its plan.
Other projects are also on the horizon and Doran is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead on a global scale
The Caribbean, for example, is another area keen to encourage medicinal cannabis cultivation.
Once the Zimbabwe facility is established, Doran wants to become a vertically integrated ‘seed to sale’ operation.
A hedge fund called JPD Capital has also been set up to specialise in cannabis opportunities around the world.
“This will allow investors the opportunity to invest in managed operations and make strategic investments into other cannabis positions.
“For me, the financial rewards are clear and evident but let's not forget what we what we are doing here.
“We have the ability to transform millions of lives and provide an alternative form of medicine for people that is desperately needed.”