Over the past week, families in isolated East Coast communities have invested over one million dollars in a new regional investment fund established by charitable company Hikurangi Enterprises.
"If the government is looking for local skin in the game before offering support to provincial economic development initiatives, then hopefully this level of support demonstrates that local commitment" said Waiapu Investments managing director Panapa Ehau.
"We have been blown away with the hundreds of people, young and old, from Potaka to Gisborne who have put their own money into something we hope will benefit the whole region."
More than 550 people have so far committed $1,035,000 to purchase shares in Waiapu Investments Limited. The first investment for the company is intended to be Hikurangi Cannabis Company, a Ruatoria-based medical cannabis venture established by Mr Ehau and others.
Interest from around the country and overseas is high with more than three thousand people waiting for a chance to buy shares when the offer opens online at 7pm Tuesday on the PledgeMe crowdfunding website.
"It feels so special to have more than a million invested by our local people" said Mr Ehau. Sixty precent of the funds were raised in five rural village meetings before the roadshow got to Gisborne yesterday.
The funds contributed will enable the building an extraction lab, processing facility and state of the art glasshouses to be built at Ruatoria as soon as a licence is issued by the Ministry of Health.
"We are also talking to larger investors who are interested in coming into Waiapu Investments so that as much ownership as possible can be kept local." said Mr Ehau. "The more ownership residing in Waiapu Investments, the greater leverage we will have when negotiating with institutional investors, but the window won’t stay open very long."
Mr Ehau said people and entities with more than fifty thousand dollars to invest should contact him as soon as possible to discuss the opportunities.
A separate process of selecting an institutional investor to partner in the cannabis company with four to ten million dollars has been started by Auckland investment brokers Northington Partners.
The Hikurangi Cannabis opportunity has already attracted interest from a number of potential investors with significant agribusiness experience including companies from Asia and North America.
"Our preference is to find a New Zealand partner but we will also be looking at who can help us grow quickly into key export markets, support us to produce affordable medicines and build a global pharmacueticals brand in an industry that is already booming in Europe and North America."