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From dream to nightmare: Marta experiences the difficulties of the hemp sector in Portugal

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Marta Vinhas, founder of Sensihemp, is personally experiencing the difficulties of the hemp sector in Portugal. After investing her meager savings in creating his dream — having a regenerative and sustainable hemp-based fashion brand — reality turned into a nightmare of economic hardship. Still, Marta doesn't give up. She launched a campaign to through crowdfunding, focused on resuming the growth of Sensihemp, an award-winning brand with international recognition.

“Deciding to do a crowfounding is to reaffirm my choice to believe in new economic models”, she told the Cannareporter.

Marta Vinhas says that “to be able to understand the choice of making a crowdfounding, you have to go back to the beginning”. Speaking to Cannareporter, she explained that Sensihemp came up with a mission: “to democratize and revive the tradition of hemp textiles in Portugal”.

In an interview with Cannadouro Magazine, also published in Cannareporter, Marta told her story, saying that “it is our responsibility to rethink the way clothes are designed, made and consumed. Hemp is a solution,” she said at the time.

In less than two years, Sensihemp went to schools and universities, participated in conferences, appeared in reports in the press and on television and was at Milan Design Week, “to promote and raise awareness, teaching and learning to weave a network of people, institutions , associations, movements, suppliers and partners,” says Marta. “It was, and it is on the basis of collaborations that the organic fabric of Sensihemp is forged. Deciding to do a crowfounding is to reaffirm my choice to believe in new economic models. Another reason was because working with sustainability in Portugal is a huge challenge, even more so with hemp and the stigma around it. Sensihemp is an independent project and to pursue its mission it needs everyone's support”, she warns.
“The first difficulty I faced was not getting funding, because the project is around hemp and banking institutions did not finance cannabis-related businesses”.
Marta says that in the hemp industry in Portugal there is a great socio-economic opportunity: “in addition to the commercialization of CBD flowers, projects are emerging in various areas, in construction, food, textiles, cosmetics, etc. However, investment, industrial development and support are needed”. In her opinion, “it would make perfect sense for Portugal to be self-sustaining” and that “the origin of the hemp for all these projects was of Portuguese origin”. But for that to happen, a change is needed: “making the processes for requesting cultivation permits less bureaucratic, so that farmers are interested in investing in this crop”, she says.
The difficulties of hemp in Portugal

As an entrepreneur, Marta experienced prejudice and lack of knowledge about the plant and the benefits of using hemp textiles firsthand. “The first difficulty I faced was not obtaining funding, because the project is based around hemp and banking institutions did not finance businesses related to cannabis. Another difficulty is the fact that it is a fiber that is rarely used in the textile industry in Portugal, compared to other fibers. The lack of industrial development and know-how makes the manufacturing process a real challenge” says Marta.

Two years after the creation of Sensihemp, the public recognition of her work does not match the bank account numbers or the financial difficulties that Marta has been going through. “Many of you don't know, but in September 2021, when I created the brand, we were in the midst of a pandemic, I was unemployed and facing financial difficulties. Even so, with only 500 euros in my bank account, I didn't let that stop me from following Sensihemp's mission and pursuing my dreams", he explains on the PPL crowdfunding platform, where he has already managed to raise 1.265 euros from a total order of 4.500 euros. The campaign runs until the 18th of September and aims to deal with debts and bills still to be paid, after an illness and surgical intervention that Marta had to undergo earlier this year.

“With dedication and hard work I was able to make a living from the brand, rent a store, gain recognition and even win international awards in the sector. After the recognition and awards, life brought me another challenge. I got sick and underwent surgery, which forced me to stay away from work for many months, without any kind of income. During that time, there were fixed bills to pay, I faced significant financial difficulties and had to deal with medical expenses, accumulating debts amounting to 3.000 euros. That's why I'm launching this campaign through crowdfunding", Explain.

How and why to contribute?

At this moment, Marta needs the support of everyone who can contribute, even with little, to overcome these difficulties and resume the growth of the Sensihemp brand, which lives mainly from its presence at fairs and events.

“With the donations received, I will be able to pay off accumulated debts, pay registration fees to participate in events, as you have to book months in advance, and also to invest in raw material for new collections”, explains Marta on the PPL platform.

“Sensihemp has proven to be an example of sustainability and innovation and I am committed to continuing the mission of fighting for the appreciation and preservation of Portuguese know-how, producing unique pieces in collaboration with artisans, made with hemp, which contribute to a more conscious world. and sustainable”, she says.

“Each contribution, no matter how small, will make a significant difference in my entrepreneurial journey”, warns Marta, adding that “together, we can boost Sensihemp's success and inspire other entrepreneurs to never give up on their dreams, even in the face of adversity”. Marta also guarantees that “as soon as my financial situation allows it, I intend to distribute the help I received to entrepreneurs who are in a difficult situation and who need help with their projects”. The budget required at this stage will be used for:

  • Accumulated debts: 3000€
  • Registration for participation in markets: 500€
  • Raw material: 800€
  • Promotion and impact marketing: €200
  • PPL platform commissions + payment costs: €415,13

Awards and recognition of the Sensihemp brand

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