Filling the vacuum left by the unmendable rift between Cuba’s iron ideology and its now tangible economic and political outcome is a group of dedicated US entrepreneurs with a mission to change the lives of millions of Cubans.
Dabbling in the DNA of the island nation’s economy – and its culture – in its formative stages contains unique challenges that are both practical and philosophical. Blunt logic may not be enough to give hope to people overshadowed by economic ambiguity and weakly held strong opinions about history. Startup Cuba is up to the task.
The renewal of private enterprise is one of the main missions occupying much of Startup Cuba’s activities on the ground.
Despite reports to the contrary, the idea of economic renewal is not new to Cuba. What started in 2010 as the Cuban government’s response to a permanent economic decline has blossomed into about 500,000 Cubans registered as self-employed, for profit. Yet the promise implied through registration has the potential to morph into a gnawing anxiety for people whose identity flowed from being a member of a communist state rather than from production or inner resources (unicorn).
Releasing the dormant energies needed to stretch one’s ability requires skills, training and support. In a sense, the soil of Cuba’s renewal requires sunlight and water – this is where Startup Cuba is having its greatest impact.
Through workshops and fellowships, Startup Cuba’s programs, “foster a culture of entrepreneurship, which contributes to the renewal of private enterprise.” The organization also provides emerging entrepreneurs with business mentors and learning opportunities that are scarce in Cuba.
Addressing people who must be perplexed by the mystifying operation of a new economic is likely to produce some unexpected outcomes. For example, statistics on Startup Cuba’s workshops tell a revealing story about Cuba’s free-enterprise future. According to Startup Cuba, the workshop attendees average age is 30, is 70% women and has a greater than 90% completion rate. Examples of funded projects include fashion, oenology, childcare, and an art gallery.
You can help Startup Cuba by making a donation, starting a campaign and by becoming an ambassador.