Mumbai-based BOHECO has secured $1 million in financing from a group that includes Indian industrialist Ratan N Tata, the Times of India reported.
Tata is the retired chairman of Tata Sons, one of two holding companies that make up Indian industrial behemoth Tata group, which he served from 1991-2012. His affiliation with BOHECO could raise hemp’s profile and spark foreign investment stakeholders say is needed to speed up industry development.
BOHECO has industrial hemp interests in the health and nutrition, textiles and material sciences sectors. Earlier this year it got a first-ever license to grow and study 20 kinds of medical cannabis in cooperation with India’s Council of Scientific and Medical Research.
BOHECO’s broad approach
The company took a broad approach to hemp at its startup in 2013 when seven partners set up Bombay Hemp Company Pvt. Ltd.
BOHECO also has established a value chain employing 75 families who produce hemp textiles, and developed “B Label,” a branded line of hemp fashions it sells in India, North America and Germany.
While the $1 million is a drop in the bucket in light of India’s vast potential in hemp, Tata’s involvement is a clear signal that official India — and investors — are waking up to the crop’s possibilities across a spectrum of potential end products. India continues to relax the regulatory environment state by state and startups and R&D projects are multiplying.
Indian hemp stakeholders have said foreign investment could help the industry grow rapidly. They envision initial opportunities in the medicinal, food and cosmetics sectors, followed by textiles & fashions, bio-composites and construction.
Ratan Tata brings a hefty corporate CV and therefore a prime PR opportunity to both BOHECO and Indian hemp. During his tenure with Tata, his group’s revenues grew to reach more than $100 billion in 2011-12, his final year.
Tata now serves on the boards of Cornell University and the University of Southern California in the USA, and on the board of directors of Alcoa. He is also on advisory boards to Mitsubishi Corporation, JP Morgan Chase, Rolls-Royce, Temasek Holdings and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
A member of the Indian Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry, Tata is also chairman of two of philanthropic trusts in India; is president of the Court of the Indian Institute of Science; and chairman of the Council of Management of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.