Andrés Fajardo, Clever Leaves:

From a global strategy to a focused strategy: “We are now focusing on the most interesting cannabis markets”

After recently introducing a new CEO, multinational cannabis company Clever Leaves is also introducing a new company strategy. “Before, we were focusing on growing the company through expansion across the globe. What we have learned is that there are greater opportunities and benefits in implementing a more focused strategy,” says Andrés Fajardo, the newly appointed CEO of Clever Leaves. “Especially when it comes to cannabis, tailoring our operations and aligning ourselves to each specific country enables us to have a higher probability of success.”

Photo credit: Clever Leaves Holdings Inc.

The new strategy
Being one of the original founders, Fajardo has been with the company from the start. Now that he is the CEO, some things are about to change. “We want to be more focused on the markets that will be integral to our growth, which will greatly help us with cost optimization as well. Of course, we want to supply medical cannabis around the world, but that comes with its challenges. Regulatory access can be problematic in some cases, making it challenging to get products from point A to point B. Moreover, with different regulations in different countries, it requires product development specific to each country. What we have learned is that focusing on each country’s varying preferences and regulations is very beneficial. We can better align with the specific requirements, increasing our ability to sell in those countries, and ultimately leading to higher profitability. By only focusing on the largest and most profitable markets, our impact is higher and our costs lower.”

Andrés Fajardo (Photo credit: Clever Leaves Holdings Inc.)

Markets for growth
So what are some of the cannabis markets that Clever Leaves currently finds most interesting? First of all, Germany. “We see it is a growing market and we still believe it has a lot of opportunity, especially once full legalization occurs. We just recently received all the required regulatory licenses by the German authorities to distribute medical cannabis to wholesalers and around 20,000 pharmacies. Becoming more and more established as a company in Germany is very beneficial for us in this growing market.”

According to Fajardo, Brazil is a market that has a surprising potential. “Many people don’t understand the market well, but we have been researching and working closely in it. This gives us the unique position of having the proper knowledge to benefit from its future growth. It’s a no-flower market, with only extracts being legal. While we are selling a product that is similar to that we sell elsewhere, the documentation is not the same. The fact that we understand the market and its nuances and are established in it, gives our company a strong competitive advantage.”

The Israeli market is a challenging one, Fajardo explains. “It is a demanding market that is well established, with a wide variety of products available. There are also different aspects of the product that are important to patients there, such as the way the flower looks and feels. When you account for all of that, it becomes a complex market. Beyond that, the regulations and standards are increasing, setting new hurdles for importers to get flower into the country. However, we are confident that through our recently announced strategic partnership with Israeli company InterCure, we can leverage their expertise and position in the market to help us distribute medical cannabis to Israeli patients while we help them on their international expansion.”

An interesting development for Clever Leaves, is Colombia’s recent announcement of allowing the international export of cannabis. “Many people are interested in this opportunity but they might underestimate how tough it is to grow high THC medicinal cannabis, and that it’s very different from growing flower for extraction. These past 7 months, we have been working on getting our products up to par for export. We are very excited about his new opportunity and are hoping to be ready for export later this year.”

Overall, Fajardo explains that it is challenging to account for all the different regulations and needs per market. “Experience, knowledge and focus is what enables us to be successful as a company. That is why we work on thoroughly understanding the specific markets and aligning our processes and products to them. Of course, we continue to keep a close eye on other markets which we think have a lot of potential, such as the UK and Mexico. But for now, we are reaping the benefits of building our company growth through these important countries.”

For more information:
Clever Leaves      

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