The last years have seen a major hype about Aloe Vera, its nutritious and also therapeutic properties.
Pharmaceuticals, food and cosmetic companies in the whole world are using the gel coming from the plant, to create various products. in 2013, Gikas Mihailos and his brother Emmanuel decided to found their company Aloe Vera-Hellas, which is about to inaugurate its first manufacturing plant of aloe vera in Greece and one of the most modern ones in Europe (on the 30th June).
“We will be the only factory in the whole of Europe to practise the solidification of the Aloe’s gel, which will go through high and low temperatures, be filtered through special filters, as to be transparent and not yellow”, said Gikas. The factory, located in Aspropyrgos, Greece, cost hundreds of thousands of Euros and was materialised by the two brothers’ capital.
The factory’s dynamic is to process and produce 15,000 tons of Aloe gel per year, working on about 120 acres. Until now, Aloe Vera-Hellas has made deals for gel export with two companies in Germany and one in Russia. Exporting was the initial plan for the founders, but they will also work with Greek companies.
“Aloe Vera Barbadensis Miller” is the original name for aloe vera; these plants are imported from Texas, USA, and are given to the company’s partners who grow it. Aloe Vera-Hellas provides its partners with the plants and the know-how, even providing agronomists’ help, and eventually the company buys the products back, then taking it to their factory for processing. Currently, the company has about 190 partners around Greece, and the two brothers are happy to see that the list is building up.
For someone to become a partner, all they need is to own enough land. For about 20 acres, it costs 4600€ for 2000 plants, plus 500€ for the watering equipment. The general cost is minor, considering that it is a one-off. Aloe vera is an organic product, so there is no need for pesticides or other fertisilers. The only thing it needs is weeding 2-3 times per year and watering 7-8 times per year, depending on the area. The imported plants are 2 years old, and they would start having substantial product after about 3 years. Land with 2000 aloe plants can produce yearly up to 10 tons of clean gel, which means a profit between 7 and 13 thousand Euros per year.
However, it is quite hard for someone to get involved in the business. It is harder to find people who will invest as much, and trust them for it. Regardless of a few difficulties they faced in order to set up the company, they did not give up and, sometimes with some stubborness and always patience, they made it. Gikas advises the same to other entrepreneurs: “whoever has an idea, I would advise him to not discard it – to try to materialise it fully. I believe that whatever you start doing, you shouldn’t leave it half way.”