Nivedita Bansal Shah is co-founder of Shah Hemp Inno-Ventures (SHIV) where she manages administration and human resources, and imbues every aspect of the company with social consciousness. Trained as a psychologist and life and relationship coach, she began her professional career in organization development, working toward improving the quality of education for underprivileged students. Nivedita has a Masters Degree in Psychology from the University of Delhi, and holds certification as a Trained Positive Psychology Coach. She is also SHIV’s coordinator in the company’s partnership with HempToday on the Asian Hemp Summit next February.
HempToday: What do you think are the biggest potential strengths of the Indian hemp industry?
Nivedita Bansal Shah: Hemp and cannabis in general are nothing new for India and the Indian subcontinent. So acceptance of this plant and its products is inherited. Medicinal benefits of cannabis are highlighted in Ayurveda (Vedic science), so proving its potential for human health is not painstaking. We’ve also worked with hemp fiber throughout history, particularly as that applies to textile production. We also see a strong entrepreneurial class developing.
HT: What do things look like at the entrepreneurial/startup level in India?
NBS: There is a lot of interest among entrepreneurs, and the urge among these startups to work hemp into broader initiatives that help people is very strong. While Uttarakhand in the north is most advanced in the beginning stages of development, we get inquiries from all over the country.
HT: Why should investors be interested in putting their money into Indian hemp?
NBS: India has always been an area of interest for investors and entrepreneurs mainly because of the vastness of its market and population. Investors can see returns from investments in cultivation, research and other fundamental areas initially. There are Indian entities looking into every application of industrial hemp including health and medical products such as CBD. And, of course, it’s always an advantage to the investor to get in on the ground floor of any economic movement.
HT: What are the main remaining challenges to hemp in India?
NBS: In the process of legalization, India is at a place right now where the US and Europe were couple of years ago. We have a chance to learn from their experiences setting frameworks for the industry. There are still a lot of loose ends, and there is still not much of a supporting ecosystem in place for the industry. There’s also a vast gap in knowledge and understanding of the processes involved in bringing products to market.
HT: What are India’s biggest chances in the hemp export markets?
NBS: India and the Indian subcontinent are home to many indigenous varieties of cannabis. So once the market opens up, there will be huge demand for these indigenous strains. Secondly, India provides a very interesting blend of industrialized processing and hand processing of certain end products, so the products that the Indian market can bring forth will be quite interesting.
Meet Nivedita Bansal Shah at the Asian Hemp Summit in Kathmandu Feb. 1-2, 2019