Interview: Investing in the future

Carol Ortega, Managing Director of Muisca Capital Group

Carol Ortega is the founder and managing director of Muisca Capital Group, who recently formed a partnership with The Arcview Group to launch the first Latino investment summit for cannabis companies taking place in Bogotá on May 2.

CCI: Can you tell us about your alliance with The Arcview Group?

CO: The Arcview Group is a well-recognized and experienced financial firm in US, with an investment platform that includes events and a venture fund for cannabis. Muisca Capital Group is an investment management firm from California, focused on the Latino community in the Americas. Jointly, we have started to facilitate access to capital for Latin American companies and Latino oriented companies in the Americas.

We decided to launch Cannabiz Latino Hub - Impact Investment Summit, which is the first investment summit for cannabis in Latin America. It has a shark-tank modality, we’re pioneering venture capital in LatAm and we expect 200 accredited investors to join us. We are holding the event in Colombia because the Colombian industry is becoming a leader in Latin America. Colombia has received over USD$220 million in investment already, and we’ve had a great welcome from pension funds and other major Colombian financial players, the financial sector is opening its doors to this industry, finally!

The financial sector is opening its doors to this industry, finally!

CCI: You have a perspective from the US and Colombia, what do you think about capital transfers between both countries?

CO: The farm bill and the beginning of hemp regulation in the US have contributed to advances in the financial industry regarding the cannabis sector. We’re seeing institutional investors entering the market through investment funds and share trading. Without a doubt, this year Colombia is going to be able to receive funds directly from the US.

Latin America is far behind in venture capital regulations, for instance, Colombia just passed a FinTech law on December 27, 2018 that allows financial entities to invest directly in entrepreneurship projects. I have been involved in Colombian financial regulation since 2011 and finally now we have regulated vehicles such as crowdfunding. This gives us a lot of flexibility, almost at the same level as the US – placing Colombia as a leader in LatAm in terms of venture capital.

CCI: What hopes do you have regarding future exports to the US market?

CO: Everyone wants to be present in the US market, and that’s fine. However, I think that the Latin American market is relevant and growing faster. It’s usually more effective to develop the regional market before expanding. In most cases Latino businesses lack a lot of education in terms of FDA requirements. Entrepreneurs have to understand that they’re working with a narcotic, which requires international compliance protocols and restrictions. For example, it’s forbidden to sell an extract abroad that lacks a GMP lab certification, and we know that to setup a GMP facility requires a massive investment to scale. What is going to happen is that specialization will take place and entrepreneurs will focus either cultivation or crude extraction or GMP level processes.

CCI: What do you think the regulation in Colombia lacks and what do you expect to see in the future?

CO: I think it lacks ancillary service regulation. If you look at the California market, for example, you need licenses for events, distribution, packaging, testing, logistics, security, and a lot more. I also think it was a major mistake to keep stigmatizing the use of flowers in the domestic market. I understand the restriction on exports for dry flower, but in Colombia the lack of access to the cannabis flower directly supports illegal drug trafficking. We’re also quite far behind the recreational market.