How to Run a Business in Cuba Without Hurting Anyone? - Havana Times (2022)

How to Run a Business in Cuba Without Hurting Anyone? - Havana Times (1)

By Miguel Alejandro Hayes Martinez(El Toque)

HAVANA TIMES – If anyone decides to buy chicken or pork in Havana after reading this article, they could well spend the entire day going from one place to the next without finding it. Because it isn’t just a question of food being super expensive, but also that it’s only being sold in few places and you have to wait in lines to get them.

However, a significant number of private restaurants in Havana offer quite a few dishes with these meats and national or imported food products. While anyone able to find a bag of powdered milk and buy it is extremely lucky (as this product has become the stuff of legends for some consumers), milkshakes still feature on private restaurants’ menus.

I have plenty of these examples ever since the first time I went to Coppelia’s famous hot dog place (which isn’t inside Coppelia) and they’d run out of Coke sodas for 10 CUP. But you could buy it next door, at a private cafe, for double the price.

But it’s not the restaurants or cafes who are to blame, or at least this isn’t my point.

Everything relates to everything

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Over 200 years ago economists suggested that everything is related to producing goods, regardless of whether they are closed or open societies. This idea is more or less clear ever since François Quesnay posed something that is as important as the law of Gravity was to Physics: the people producing food in society produce it for themselves and for those who don’t produce food.

This principle has reappeared throughout the history of Economic thought, passing from Engels and his schemes of simple reproduction and extended reproduction, described in “Das Kapital”, but also in Walras’ general equilibrium theory to a certain extent (as well as his disciples) or in Soviet material-equilibrium systems. The latter isn’t as important in some circles, but this system of material equilibrium was exactly the inspiration behind US economist Wassily Leontief creating the famous input–output analysis and winning a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

Later, a series of models and tools were developed such as the Social Accounting Matrix (SAM) and others, with more complex math and programming, which essentially shows that what one economic sector produces is consumed by different sectors, and that one sector consumes what lots of different sectors produce, and all of this combined. Leading us to the clear idea that any change in supply and demand can always have an impact on the entire economy.

Who’s taking the pork?

Thus, pig farmers are working to ensure their own personal consumption and collective consumption. Between those who don’t produce meat, we have those of us that want meat to consume directly and those who buy it to resell it in a restaurant; that is to say, they purchase it as a supply. As meat supplies fall short, we are all competing to be the ones with the “honor” of buying it.

The winners within this landscape are those who are willing to pay more. The winners are the private restaurants that can pay a better price for the pound (then they transfer this higher purchase cost to the sale price) or they buy in bulk. This is in the seller’s best interests, who wins either way. The rest of us… as you know are the losers. There is no other possible combination, because there isn’t enough for everyone.

Just like if there were 12 seats in a room for 20 people, 8 people will always have to stand, regardless of who sits down. Losers are inevitable in times of shortage. Shortages drive us into a social jungle where there is a kind of law of economic natural selection. There aren’t goodies or baddies (or they aren’t if there are), just circumstances.

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When this is the dynamic for a long list of goods (regardless of whether they are nationally produced or imported), like in Cuba today, losers lose a lot more than just pork.

Rearing your own pig or it’s your own fault

An early conclusion is that in a society where almost everything is in shortage, when a private business buys a supply, which is essentially to produce a consumer good, this good is being taken from another citizen.

The shortages crisis is so bad that even when restaurants are able to pay better prices (if that’s at the agro-market, with informal deals at stores or legal informal deals), there are private business owners who have created their own supply source, with their own farms, to ensure their supply and thereby escaping the crisis and the high prices it creates.

Thus, we can deduce that: every time a private business creates or produces its own supplies, it contributes to alleviating the impact of shortages to some extent.

However, there is always the risk that food producers prefer to only sell to those who use their products as a supply (or what they process to add value and then sell for more money).

It’s not hard then to assume you need to look at how a business engages with shortages, to see if it is seeking only economic benefit or to be a socially responsible business.

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A socially responsible company in Cuba should include among its priorities the need to offer a service/good without leaving other citizens without consumer goods; that is to say, they don’t contribute to greater shortages for consumers.

A restaurant selling roasted meat doesn’t help to improve the purchasing power of the Cuban peso, if a Cuban citizen can barely take it home. Destroying one offer to create another isn’t the road to improving a society, that is to say, the living conditions of its members. It’s just taking it from one side and giving it to another.

But farms aren’t the solution to everything. Is someone else to blame?

Companies’ social responsibility in response to shortages don’t have general solutions. If these are businesses using staple foods or nationally produced supplies, which pretty much don’t need imported raw materials, they can help to ease the effects of shortages. On the other hand, every company using imported raw materials (from powdered milk to plastic) has no other choice. They are condemned to buy supplies, on the illicit or legal markets, and to leave consumers and state-run companies without consumer goods.

The solution is beginning to be implemented on a large scale with those able to import via state-led entities. They aren’t competing with consumers but are importing for them instead. However, the institutionalism of channels for imports, high commissions, as well as the inefficiency of this method, mean that there are very few producers who can access their raw materials in this way.

This is why it isn’t strange to find a float for a water tank on the illicit market for 15 MLC (the USD magnetic almost equivalent). Where do you imagine the plastic came from to make it? It’s the same plastic that circulates within the domestic market and is, obviously, in shortage. They are forced to take from one side to put it on the other.

This is not another conclusion: when a private business is unable to import its supplies because of the government’s monopoly on foreign trade, it is forced to compete with its fellow citizens for goods that the government imports, or with state-run companies for the raw materials they buy.

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If this monopoly didn’t exist and initiatives that prioritize the economic wellbeing of the masses, private businesses would be able to reduce their prices and increase their production.

While the little private imports that come in can alleviate this burden, when it comes to large quantities (of food or plastic, for example), it isn’t enough. Recycling isn’t a viable solution either: what’s being reused doesn’t increase. Reusing products in shortage continues to be the same as shortage. It can resolve local problems, of course, but this article is contemplating the situation on a macro level.

How can you run a business without becoming the bad guy?

It’s not really important that the above is as old as Quesnay, because these ideas are easy to grasp with a bit of common sense. It’s unlikely that people with interests reflected in the administration, as well as policymakers, figure out what I’ve just laid out by reading this article: those managing numbers or resources every day know full well that when there isn’t enough to go around, somebody always ends up missing out.

Changing restrictions on foreign trade wouldn’t be enough as a policy, but it would be a much-needed structural change as a starting point. However, it would have an impact on the economic hegemony that keeps the political elite in power, read here: control and high profits that come from monopoly practices. Thus, we can expect these restrictions to remain in force, and responsible undertakings in terms of shortages are in the hands of private business owners themselves.

Of course, no private business that gets their supplies in an honest way and from the fruits of their labor and management should feel guilty at all for buying consumer goods or raw materials in shortage, just like they shouldn’t also be thinking about closing down their business or changing to an activity that doesn’t put them in this competitive situation, pitting them against their fellow countrymen or state-led companies, because they didn’t create the rules of the game. The monopoly on foreign trade forces them to compete with citizen consumerism and is to blame. Furthermore, if they chose their current activity, it’s because it fits their needs, skills, and passion.

Meanwhile, it would be good for society to understand reality from a perspective of private businesses, and that a select few going up the ladder means that others have to fall lower. Especially so the government can’t sell collective prosperity discourse, which clearly it isn’t. Therefore, and this may be the last conclusion, if those private businesses using consumer goods that can be created from scratch in Cuba take on this production, it would be an exercise of social responsibility to try and tackle shortages.

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This idea is more or less clear ever since François Quesnay posed something that is as important as the law of Gravity was to Physics: the people producing food in society produce it for themselves and for those who don’t produce food.. Between those who don’t produce meat, we have those of us that want the meat to consume directly and those who buy it to resell it in a restaurant; that is to say, they purchase it as a supply.. An early conclusion is that in a society where almost everything is in shortage, when a private business buys a supply, which is essentially to produce a consumer good, this good is being taken from another citizen.. Companies’ social responsibility in response to shortages don’t have general solutions.. If these are businesses using staple foods or nationally produced supplies, which pretty much don’t need imported raw materials, they can help to ease the effects of shortages.. This is not another conclusion: when a private business is unable to import its supplies because of the government’s monopoly on foreign trade, it is forced to compete with its fellow citizens for goods that the government imports, or with state-run companies for the raw materials they buy.. While the little private imports that come in can alleviate this burden, when it comes to large quantities (of food or plastic, for example), it isn’t enough.. Therefore, and this may be the last conclusion, if those private businesses using consumer goods that can be created from scratch in Cuba take on this production, it would be an exercise of social responsibility to try and tackle shortages.

Alain stopped and looked at the poor state of what was once the busy Cafe G, the place of so many good memories during their university years, just a few years ago.. No, of course it isn’t.. Private cafe.. Photo: Juan SuarezAll of them believed that they would be better off in the future than they are now, but not the rest of the groups surveyed, especially laborers and those dependent on the public sector.. (…) I believe that I am at the top of what I can do, due to the country’s situation and the economic shortage; I don’t believe that its path will change,” were some of the opinions which were collected.. “In a context where public businesses reign and are mainly inefficient, wealth isn’t socialized and people aren’t free of alienation, in fact it’s the opposite.. These questions should form part of a serious social debate,” Torres points out.. That is to say, it isn’t just about optimizing processes, rationality, investments, statistics… but opinions, knowledge, moods, feelings and life projects also have to be taken into account…

Editor’s note (December 6th, 2018): Late on the evening of December 5th, after this piece had been edited and fact-checked but before it went to press, Margarita González Fernández, Cuba’s Minister for Work and Social Security, announced last-minute changes to new regulations governing Cuba’s private sector.. Of greatest significance is the change that will allow Cuban cuentapropistas , or the self-employed, to keep multiple work licences, rather than having to surrender all but one, as previously announced.. The percentage of earnings that cuentapropistas must deposit into designated bank accounts has been lowered from 80% to 65% and the rule to prohibit restaurants from seating more than 50 patrons at a time has been dropped.. The last-minute modifications are a sign that while the government is far from enabling the private sector to flourish, it is concerned with creating too much discontent and is, if ever so slightly, considering public opinion when making its decisions.. EIGHT YEARS ago Cuba’s government laid off a tenth of the country’s workforce—some half a million people—and encouraged them to start their own businesses.. Nearly 600,000 Cubans have become cuentapropistas , or self-employed, opening restaurants, boutiques, repair shops, beauty parlours, bakeries and bars.. The average state wage is 848 Cuban pesos ($33) a month; a taxi driver with a decent ride can make more than ten times that.. The most devastating new rule is one that makes it illegal for individuals to hold more than one licence to engage in private business.. Cuba issues licences in only 123 categories—and if a licence for a job does not exist, neither does that job, at least officially.. A single licence does the trick for any computer-related business, allowing a cuentapropista to provide everything from software to online marketing services.. But other categories are narrower: selling hardbacks and brewing coffee require two separate licences, effectively making bookshops with cafés illegal.. The government’s answer is to require cuentapropistas to open bank accounts so that it can track where they spend their money.. Cubans who rent out rooms or run other small businesses, such as restaurants or repair shops, must deposit 80% of their income in a designated bank account.. They can withdraw money from this account to cover business expenses and will be given a card that entitles them to small discounts when they buy items for business.. Her monthly taxes will triple this week; the new rules impose higher taxes on certain businesses in central Havana.

When President Obama visits Cuba on March 21 , it will have been a little more than 57 years since the end of the Cuban revolution and slightly less than 55 years since the initial implementation of the U.S. embargo.. Amid this historic trip and the flood of regulatory and diplomatic changes (including a new decision to ease some additional travel rules ) that have occurred since President Obama’s first meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro last fall, it is important for American business leaders considering investing in Cuba to understand the current status of its economy, as well as the key factors that will influence its future.. Cuba currently requires billions of dollars in investment in communication infrastructure, an update to its dilapidated transportation network, and significant capital inflows into key productive sectors.. While the Cuban government has made an effort to gradually shift workers out of the public sector (it has closed 24 state-owned enterprises for failing to meet output targets), only 25% of the Cuban workforce is currently employed in the private sector.. It uses two currencies, the convertible Peso (CUC) valued on par with the dollar and fully tradeable, and the Cuban Peso (CUP) valued at a rate of 24:1 with the dollar, which creates severe constraints for the development of Cuba’s export sector.. To deflect attention from these challenges, the Cuban government has introduced various distortions into the country’s official economic statistics , which are used largely unaltered by entities such as the World Bank and CEPAL .. The first is in regards to wages in the public sector, which as reported by the Cuban government stand at an average rate of over $7,000 USD per year.. In fact, when paying local workers, the government uses the country’s non-convertible currency, or the CUP, in contrast to the convertible currency, the CUC, but reports these wages as if they were paid in CUC .. This is why U.S. healthcare companies, among the first to do business in Cuba, have told us that official statistics regarding the healthcare sector just don’t match the demand they see in reality.. These two events would serve to drive greater capital inflows to Cuba (we estimate that foreign direct investment could climb from $700 million USD to above $3 billion USD annually), and thus allow the government to continue the process of shifting workers from the public to the private sector, where productivity and innovation is significantly higher.. While more American tourists would boost the hospitality businesses, higher productivity would permit higher wages for Cuban and thus increased private consumption.. Furthermore, continued liberalization could drive higher productivity in Cuba’s agriculture sector, where participation by the public sector continues to be significant, stimulating higher demand for farm equipment and other agricultural inputs.. Likewise, for most foreign companies, doing business in Cuba will require working hand in hand with the Cuban government.. American companies should familiarize themselves with these multiple challenges, while identifying potential business partners, sizing the market potential for the company’s product, and understanding the challenges of operating alongside the Cuban government.

Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com and other Amazon websites.. In the world of business, the way you carry yourself can make or break a first impression.. In Cuba Libre, a short documentary by young filmmakers Luisa de Villers and Mediha Musinovic, professionals in Cuba share some of the unspoken rules of business etiquette.. Either way, you have to get a letter from the Chamber of Commerce that you are coming as a representative of their company and not just “tourism.” Business Card Etiquette: Use your business card like your business card: it is the first thing people have to remember you by, your introduction to Cuba.. When you are handed a business card, take the time to read it – if the person has gone through the trouble of setting up a card for their company, they are going to make it worthwhile.. Cell Phone Etiquette: Cell phones are less than 50 cents in Cuba, but there can be up to a three-month wait.. If you need a cell phone, it is best to buy one from a Cuban American friend to avoid the wait, and have them set it up for you in their name.. Value personal phone calls: Cell phones are not cheap in Cuba, so if you get one, have a good plan to keep in touch with the U.S. to handle business.. Coffee Levels: American office workers understand coffee breaks – lunch breaks, however, don’t have the same overarching meaning in Cuban culture.. Never Arrives on Time: Whenever you are waiting for someone in Cuba, expect them to be late.. If a Cuban is calling you in your office, they are typically trying to save money, and the most economical time to talk to you is when nobody else is around.. In Cuba, people are very friendly, and will assist you in finding a job, a place to live and even a girlfriend if you want, but once you work in Cuba, you are expected to do your job.. “The purpose of the conversation is not for you to make money.. Cuba Libre is a narrative short on my five years in Cuba, recounting the dangers and the opportunities I faced, the ways of the Communist world and the colorful people who live there.

Will Cuban startups expand their creativity and hustle beyond their borders?. Cubans know this all too well.. As American relations with Cuba continue to improve, Startup Angels sought to answer some of the questions that tech entrepreneurs and startup investors have about the country.. This is a top request from many Cuban developers...something that many of us take for granted.. Cuban developers earn much more (salaries can range) but are under $500 per month.. As a result, many have focused their time on creative efforts.. That spills over into other parts of the Cuban economy and offers promise to its future role in technology innovation.. Cooperatives are worker-owned business structures that have legal standing in Cuba.. The U.S. embargo on Cuba is still in effect, though restrictions may ease following President Obama's visit to the country.. Regardless of what country you are from, starting up a company in Cuba means collaborating with the Cuban government and restrictions on how you hire workers.The foreign investment law allows for 100 percent foreign-owned companies, but the tax treatment, approval process and other restrictions means that it's not practical.. As a result, many graduates enter IT consulting or start businesses.. If you'd like to learn more about Cuba and its entrepreneurial ecosystem, AngelSummit Americas is hosting a keynote session with Cuban-based entrepreneurs in Miami this April 14-15.

Cuba is home to more than 11 million consumers with nearly 60 years of pent-up demand for U.S. goods and services, The Port of Havana is only 198 nautical miles from the Port of Miami, facilitating trade, Millions of U.S. tourists will need travel-related services for their planned vacations to Cuba, and European companies have already paved the way for foreign investment and business on the island.. In March 2014, the National Assembly of the People's Power (Cuba’s equivalent of a Parliament) passed a new Law of Foreign Investment, supposedly ushering in a new era of foreign investment.. The Cuban government’s control of economic and political life in Cuba has made it difficult for Cubans to make a decent living.. The combination of absolute government control coupled with low wages and high prices have led to the creation of a unique business culture in Cuba.. Many recent immigrants from Cuba have a difficult time adapting to U.S. business culture, and the same is likely for U.S. entrepreneurs heading to Cuba.. It's a misconception that U.S. companies are banned from doing business in Cuba.. Currently, there are fewer than 250 foreign companies doing business in Cuba, and this number is declining as more partners give up.. Some proponents of business with Cuba point to Vietnam, the Czech Republic and other formerly communist countries as examples of what can be achieved in Cuba with the help of U.S. investment and know-how.

Julia de la Rosa and her husband Silvio Ortega run a bed and breakfast in the south Havana neighborhood of La Vibora that now has 10 guest rooms.. Drawing from his earnings, the couple slowly began to fix up the house and turn it into La Rosa de Ortega bed and breakfast.. Running a casa particular is a family affair for Fanny Acosta, 36.. So that all three guest rooms in the apartment can be rented, the couple and their two kids crowd into the fourth bedroom of the apartment near El Prado as their private living quarters.. In hopes of picking up even more business, de la Rosa, Contreras and Acosta all have registered their rooms with San Francisco-based Airbnb, which began offering American travelers the opportunity to book stays at private Cuban homes in April.

Most Cubans are paid in the national currency, the Cuban peso or CUP, which is only useful for purchasing goods distributed by the state.. First, there are those who receive money in dollars and euros that can be converted into CUCs, such as the Cuban political elite and their relations, whose travel privileges allow them to acquire goods from Ecuador, Mexico, and the United States, and sell them at a profit.. In 1997 the Cuban government began allowing Cuban families to rent out rooms to foreigners for around $30 a night as a means of generating additional income, provided they received state authorization.. Airbnb states that since it began operations in Cuba in April 2015, about 4,000 of these casa particular owners have joined its network, creating “an important source of income for thousands of Cuban families” who receive “an average of $250 per booking.”. Cuba’s 21,000 casas particulares already represent one elite in Cuba, given the country’s severe housing shortage.. The 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act offered preferential immigration requirements to Cubans, and the 1995 “wet foot, dry foot” policy created an incentive for Cubans to reach U.S. soil.

Under pressure from the economic impact of COVID-19 and U.S. sanctions, Cuba scrapped a ban on most private businesses on Saturday, the latest in a flurry of long-awaited reforms to its Communist system triggered by the government in recent weeks, and a sign that the state’s grip on the economy is loosening.. A series of reforms starting in 2010 have allowed Cubans to work as “self-employed people” in the private sector, but they can currently only have jobs in 127 narrow categories defined by the government.. Instead, there will be a list of 124 jobs prohibited for the private sector and the rest of the more than 2,000 legal economic activities identified by the government will be fair game.. It’s the biggest shift in Cuba’s system for a decade, according to Oniel Díaz Castellanos, a Cuban entrepreneur who runs a consultancy helping self-employed people run businesses on the island.. It’s an economic opportunity not just for entrepreneurs but for the country.”. Here’s what to know about Cuba’s reforms and what they mean for the future of the country’s economic system.. Cubans will now be able to start a private business in most sectors.. Self-employed people currently make up 13% of Cuba’s workforce.. “They’d need to reduce the weight of the state in GDP, and that’s not happening on a significant scale.. “This transformation shows circumstances in Cuba are changing.

HAVANA — It was a lucky day for the unemployed tourism guide in Havana.. Police officers in Havana organizing a line of people waiting to buy food.. Cuba’s economy was struggling before the coronavirus.. It also imposed sanctions on tanker companies that delivered petroleum to Cuba from Venezuela and cut back on the commercial flights from the United States to the island.. The pandemic, and the recession that followed, pushed the government to announce that, after years of promises, it would make good on a series of economic reforms intended to stimulate the private sector.

HAVANA (AP) — Opening a small business is a bureaucratic headache in many parts of the world.. Most sorts of private businesses have been banned for more than 50 years, even if hundreds of thousands of Cubans in recent years have taken advantage of reforms that opened up cracks for small private enterprise in the once-solid wall of the state-dominated socialist economy.. Now, after five years of waiting, a new legal system takes effect on Sept. 20 that could greatly expand the scope of private businesses, and give them greater legal certainty in efforts to help an economy in crisis.. Cautious or enthusiastic, business executives are concerned about an inefficient credit system, the requirement to have U.S. dollars that the state itself does not sell and limitations on hiring professional services.. “Knowing that I can have a company, a business in Cuba, in my country, invest, take risks in the markets and that this is supported by law ... is peace of mind for me,” said Carlos Gómez, the 35-year-old owner of the audiovisual production company Wajiros Films.. At the end of August, Cuban authorities published in the Official Gazette about 20 norms that allow and regulate small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which were eliminated in 1968 in a revolutionary offensive against the last vestiges of private property.. But the government legalized a tightly limited – but legal -- form of self-employment in the early 1990s to cope with the crisis caused by the collapse of Soviet aid.. Among these is the recognition of several partners in a business and legal status,“ said Lauren Fajardo, designer and co-owner of Dador, a clothing workshop created by her and two friends that employed about 10 people.. The new regulations establish that SMEs - a mandatory status for companies with more than three workers - will be established as ’’limited liability″ companies that must be approved by the Ministry of the Economy.. One aspect that causes concern is that the law allows for Cuban citizens and permanent residents in the country to open limited liability companies, or LLCs.. “And the businesses that are coming to us today are no longer restaurants, they are no longer cafeterias, they are no longer small restaurants or rental companies.. Carlos Gomez, 35, owner of the audiovisual production company Wajiros Films, poses for a photo at his company's editing room in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.. Most sorts of private businesses have been banned for more than 50 years, but now a new legal system takes effect on Sept. 20 that could greatly expand the scope of private businesses like Gomez´s, and crucially give them greater legal certainty in efforts to help an economy in crisis.. Carlos Gomez, 35, owner of the audiovisual production company Wajiros Films, poses for a photo at his company's editing room in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.. Most sorts of private businesses have been banned for more than 50 years, but now a new legal system takes effect on Sept. 20 that could greatly expand the scope of private businesses like Gomez´s, and crucially give them greater legal certainty in efforts to help an economy in crisis.

For the past 53 years, Cuba has been closed for business to much of the international market .. REUTERS | Stringer But, as tensions with the West have cooled, Cuba has turned on the Internet, opening the floodgates (albeit, slowly) to its 11 million citizens and giving the green light for businesses to enter the market in earnest.. Most estimates put total access on the island at 5 percent, but recent additions of Wi-Fi capacity to dozens of state-run Internet centers has put the ball in motion for broader future access.. In 2011, Dyn Research broke a story indicating that there was fiber optic access to Cuba via Venezuela; and in 2013, Spanish telecom Telefonica began service to Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A. (ETECSA) , the state telecom of Cuba.. The capabilities are in place, then, for Cuba to have more extensive Internet access; and if political conditions continue to soften, we'll likely see services and use become much more prevalent.. Indeed, if the Internet is opened up for greater consumer -- and business -- access, cloud access will be available, but at less-than-perfect performance speeds.. According to ComScore , mobile-only Internet access in the United States now exceeds desktop-only access, and we've seen this same shift to mobile play out in India and China , as well.. In fact, in China, a shocking 89 percent of Internet users access the Internet by mobile first.. However, the landscape is quite different in Cuba, where residents can find Internet-ready phones, but where actual Internet access is expensive and hard to find.. Cuba is particularly difficult to assess, not only because the market has been closed for so long, but also because it has been open only to a small handful of countries that have had time to gain a strong foothold (primarily, China, Russia and Venezuela).. Companies that want to do business in Cuba also need to be aware that the buying power of the Cuban market is quite small compared to that of larger markets.. As Internet access and a greater openness to foreign investment begin to snowball in the coming decade, early entry in the Cuban market will prove a smart investment for companies that go in with both eyes open.. It takes time for a country to invest in infrastructure, for the population to gain enough access to the technology that enables Internet connection and for brands to gain a toehold in a market with incumbent names.

Moved by the spirit and messages of protesters across the United States and the world, CET is committed to further highlighting, working with and learning from Afro Cuban artists, entrepreneurs and professionals.. As part of this effort, we’ll work with partner organizations to highlight Afro Cuban owned and operated companies across the island, starting with this list of 18 great businesses you should know about.. Through our international initiatives of retreats and collaborative projects, we seek to encourage Afro descendants from both inside and outside of Cuba to help us create the sustainable infrastructure needed to create a better wellness outlook for the black and brown people of the municipality of Regla.” As such, they welcome local and foreign groups alike to learn from their workshops and exchange with their community in Regla.. Eventually she created more experiences - Afro Cuban food, religion, art and dance, and the more tourists who came to visit, the more requests she got for Afro Cuban goods and souvenirs.. She then began working with artists and artisans in her community to create just that, and in 2019 opened a storefront in Old Havana selling Afro Cuban goods.. Lo Llevamos Rizo is a project that began in 2015 by Susana Pilar to create events and provide resources to celebrate and care for natural afro hair.. After six years working in London cafes, Nelson Tamayo Rodriguez decided it was time to come home to Havana to start a cafe of his own.. In a 2019 interview , Lauren told us: “I look forward to creating a forward-thinking, sustainable business that is part of the creative output of an emerging group of talented Cuban fashion designers who are making socially relevant, thoughtfully designed, well-crafted locally made goods that bring a modern take to Cuban fashion.”. His mission, from an interview in Havana Times , states: “We advocate for natural hair, not because we reject straightened long hair, but because of the damage these treatments cause people, who, a lot of the time, want to stick to an imposed and widely-accepted stereotype.. From a 2017 New York Times article : “Roberto Alvarez is a Cuban barber with a pop-up ‘mini-salon’ in Havana that draws long lines of men looking for fades.. Corpus Habana is a project led by professional and entrepreneurial Cuban women that provides comprehensive body massage, cosmetology and lifestyle counseling in Havana, Cuba.. The founder states that her business is “aimed at African descendants in Cuba, with the purpose of expanding and revitalizing the work of Black women.” BarbarA’s Power creates jobs, empowers Afro Cuban women, and offers products which celebrate diversity.. There are thousands of Afro Cuban owned businesses in Havana and across the island.

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