- The cannabis industry is neither a world of stoned skaters nor a business with no place for women.
- Andra Enescu, lawyer and business developer at the Canadian investment fund Canna Royalty Corp, has visited Spain on the occasion of Spannabis.
- At Dinafem, we have talked with her on the situation of the cannabis industry at the moment and on the role women play in it.
Andra Enescu has a PhD in Law from the Bond University in Australia, a BA from the New York University and has studied International Law at the London School of Economics. She is an executive member of the Canadian Women Foundation and has led the talk show "The Next Biggest Winner", where she interviewed leaders from different industries for a Canadian TV channel.
Born in Rumania, she has flown to Spain from Canada, a country where medicinal cannabis is legal and which could legalise its recreational use this summer. The cannabis industry in Canada, where Andra resides, is an emerging market open to investors, Government-licensed crops and insurance companies.
Hi, Andra. You come from Canna Royalty. Could you talk us about the aim of your corporation and the reason for your travel to Spain?
Certainly. Canna Royalty Corp shapes latent business opportunities in the cannabis market. It identifies needs and backs the marketing of unique products. The Business Development department of the corporation is what has taken me here. Our company works on three areas: Resources, Research and Intellectual Property. We are working on the development of a wide company portfolio in order facilitate synergies and linkages between them. I'm a lawyer and, amongst other things, I used to work on stock market transactions. I never thought I would end up in this industry one day, but here I am. I don't mean to become an expert on each and every process of the business, but I am trying really hard to understand and internalize the operation each of the sectors of the industry.
You mentioned unique cannabis products, what do you mean exactly?
For legal reasons, Canna Royalty cannot work on cannabis cultivation or extraction. That's why we focus on Intellectual Property with a view to technological innovations. Everyone has a portable vaporizer, but there are none which can monitor the daily doses of each consumer and provide the user with this information. It is difficult to implement such accurate technology in such a small device. But it is a necessary product and it would be unique. What we do is bringing together the agents necessary for its creation and for financing the prototype and the marketing. The good thing about intellectual property is that once a company has developed an algorithm, they can market it and help others, but the patent is still theirs.
You come from a very different industry. What have you been most surprised about?
I think people have the idea – it happened to me before working for Canna Royalty – that cannabis is exclusively linked to a bunch of guys who smoke pot on their skateboards. But very few people understand the sound scientific basis behind the industry. They are not aware of the highly professional work that growers, breeders, technicians and scientists carry out to boost the industry.
It is a whole industry and I think we are at a point where people and governments are realising how profitable it can be. That's why I think the social and legal developments carried out in the field of cannabis are irreversible. We've come a long way to stop now. The cannabis industry is on the verge of seeing governments keeping it safe while making it increasingly profitable. This industry is not about a bunch of guys running with their joints, it is about serious people investing a lot of money. This is happening, a new era has begun and it's really exciting to be part of this early stage.
On the other hand, I see the cannabis industry as a very intimate one. Until very recently, all the involved agents have worked outside the law at some point, shaping an industry that has developed out of trust. And the business network that has resulted from those honest relationships is an extremely sensitive one.
As a women, how do you position yourself in an industry of such characteristics?
I believe that, as women, our value lies in our authenticity and in our ability to build fruitful relationships, aspects usually associated with women. Our contribution, rather than closing deals, is facilitating that the deals occur. Men tend to speak in terms of "doing business, closing a deal". But we must understand that, in the long run, the importance of the business lies in the relationship the parties build during the process.
You can close a business and make a lot of money out of it, but if you don't' create a good rapport, it won't happen twice. This is why I believe building a solid relationship between the parties is crucial, especially when you are in a foreign country that has different culture, like is the case for me in this trip to Spain, for example.
It is also true, though, that even if I've met lots of women in this industry, I've seen none in management positions. We can't forget this is an emerging industry that is opening up to the world right now. The cannabis business has always been there, but now it is in the spotlight. That's why I believe we women will have the opportunity to be at the centre of this business network and get credit for it.
In my case, rather than as a new-business entrepreneur, I see myself as their visible face: this is what I know, this is what I am experiencing and this is what I tell you. This is certainly a good moment to get involved in the industry, also because so far men have been doing business with other men, and I think that considering other business opportunities with women can be very refreshing for them.