The Business Year interviews Gabriel Meneses, VP Latin America & Carribean
July 9, 2019
How is the company investing to position itself in Colombia?
Colombia is a highly strategic investment opportunity for Aphria, not just to position the company as a local market leader, but also to develop a complete end-to-end platform that will enable Aphria’s expansion into wider international markets. To drive market leaderships in Colombia, as well as internationally, we will focus on maximizing Aphria’s key competitive advantages. This includes executing a consistent global vision that aligns with our core values as well as a go-to-market strategy that touches all critical elements in the value chain. Part of our commitment is managing and controlling the entire value chain to ensure that Aphria’s high-quality cultivation and extraction processes, technology, product development, distribution and medical enablement are led by subject matter experts. Another of our biggest priorities is to continue investing in human capital. We are proud of the talent base we have integrated through the acquisition of Colcanna, a local Aphria subsidiary, and our ongoing commitment and investment in the development of our people.
How is Aphria building relationships with the Colombian medical community?
Aphria was founded on the concept of ensuring that patients have access to high-quality pharmaceutical grade medical cannabis products. We understand the importance of well-founded education based on credible and reliable medical sources that help doctors and patients make the right treatment decisions. We are currently executing multiple medical initiatives and alliances that involve partnering with highly credible and respected education and medical institutions. These initiatives will focus on supporting ongoing medical research, education and training. One of the most exciting recent developments was our exclusive partnerships with the Colombia Medical Federation (CMF), which plays a foundational role in enabling Colombia’s medical community as well as assuring that Colombia maintains global awareness and leadership in medical developments that impact the overall health sector. Notably, CMC has over 2,000 affiliated doctors and a database of about 70,000 medical professionals. We plan to work closely with it to sponsor research initiatives, develop medical training programs, and design certified medical cannabis courses to leverage its virtual training platform.
Do you see medical cannabis as a driver of development in Colombia?
Medical cannabis is an agricultural business, and agriculture is part of Colombia’s history and one of its main economic drivers. Medical cannabis is projected to become one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, and Colombia could represent about 10-15% of global cannabis exports. Colombia’s contribution to the medical cannabis industry has the potential to significantly boost the local economy and GDP when we consider multiple factors, such as foreign investment and new employment opportunities and tax revenue streams.
What are Aphria’s upcoming plans in Colombia?
We are currently building 80,000sqm of state-of-the-art greenhouses across 23ha and constructing our GMP-certified extraction laboratories and facilities. Parallel to this, we are putting together a fantastic team that will build our pharmaceutical route-to-market distribution channel. One of our exciting plans is our social responsibility strategy that we are executing under the guidance of Caldas University, an institution with years of experience in social matters. Equally important, we plan to invest significantly in our surrounding communities to improve their quality of life. We have been able to contribute significantly to infrastructure projects that have improved a segment of the electrical power lines and water supply systems, and we plan to continue helping promote training, education and employment opportunities.
Gabriel Meneses is responsible for leading Aphria’s Latin America and Caribbean operations, as well as developing new strategic business opportunities that align with the company’s overall international vision and direction. Meneses has over 15 years of international experience within the high-tech industry. Most recently, he was responsible for building and leading Apple’s first enterprise sales organization in Latin America & the Caribbean. Prior to that, he spent more than 10 years at Cisco Systems. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international business from Strayer University.
Thank you to The Business Year for the feature.