A rare business opportunity in Cuba


The change could mean more business opportunities and hurdles ahead. Earlier this month, the government released regulations regarding a reform that would allow small and medium-sized enterprises to formally incorporate as businesses and access state funding, ending decades of classification as “independent”.

The move is considered by many analysts to be one of the most important reforms undertaken since all companies were nationalized by former leader Fidel Castro.

Cuban economist Omar Everleny called the reform very positive, long sought by many Cubans … but he says the change has not happened quickly enough.

“Since 2016, we have been talking about small and medium-sized enterprises, and today they are talking about ‘gradually’ in the country when what we need is speed, not ‘gradually’.”

It has limits – for example, people cannot own more than one business and cannot contract foreign partners or engage in direct foreign trade.

But for Nayvis Diaz, founder of Velo Cuba, a bicycle repair and rental company with 17 employees in Havana, this is a big change.

“This is a moment that we have been waiting for a long time, to truly have a non-state sector, in this case a private sector. To be part of an overall analysis of the economy of the country so that we can help from all sides. possible ways. ”

The measure is part of a package of market-focused reforms undertaken by Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel over the past year, as the health crisis and the tightening of US sanctions rocked the precarious economy and resulted in shortages of food, medicine and other basic goods.

The Fernandez brothers, owners of Deshidratados Habana, Cuba’s only dried fruit processing and sales company, were nonetheless enthusiastic.

Ricardo Fernandez says the reform may look good on paper, but wonders what it will look like in practice.

“Everything we see written looks wonderful, it gives us hope, but over time we would like to see how real this rule is in practice and how durable it is over time. its application is regular. ”

The Fernandez brothers say they have the pitch and the vendors lined up … now all they need … is the funding.

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