Starting My Own Business in Cuba

Osmel Almaguer 

Private business. Photo Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, Dec 5 — Since the issuing of licenses was approved for anyone who wants to become a self-employed worker, many people have gotten busy putting together their own businesses.  This is occurring especially in the areas of food service and the sale of light articles like handicrafts, clothes, etc.

The numbers of sales points have increased significantly across the entire city.  It’s even seeming like this will create a good opportunity for our battered economy to recover a little.

Sure, everything depends on the government’s regulating without being overbearing, on people being able to make good money, and on the availability of wholesale supplies and raw materials, be them of national production or imported, so that self-employed workers can actually carry out their work.

The minister of Internal Commerce was recently been given the boot, so it seems that he wasn’t on top of his job in making sure that those things were in place.

Still, while lots of folks have begun setting up their small businesses, not all will succeed.  There are mysterious laws now operating here that are practically unknown to most Cubans: like the law of supply and demand, competition, profitability and maximum efficiency.

As a result of these, the lines at the Department of Labor are long; lots of people are already turning their licenses back in.

Efficiency has been a much talked about concept over these last fifty years, but without results since it has been imposed as an abstract idea.

With competition it’s necessary to give the customer what they want, not like things have been up until now with the vendors mistreating and cheating everybody.  To succeed, now it will be necessary to achieve a good balance between the rational use of resources and appeal of the product.

I too have begun to toy with the idea of becoming an owner of a food stand.

Sure, I don’t have hopes of becoming rich, because even though many of the obstacles have been eliminated, others have emerged to take their place, especially those that guarantee that no one — absolutely no one — will be making a lot of money if the government doesn’t want them too.

My expectations are to be able to take care of some of my basic problems of food, clothing and shelter, the same things I’ve been commenting on over these years Havana Times’ existence.  Those same headaches suffered by the majority of Cubans.

2 thoughts on “Starting My Own Business in Cuba

  • To aid in the growth of an emerging free market economy is a difficult act of juggling. Regulation can help streamline the process and ensure quality, but too much will stifle the endeavour altogether.

    This is a problem faced by most of us who own small Business no matter where yuo live.
    It will be an interesting time to observe from the outside and see if Cuba can help this sector grow.

    I wish you all the most success.

  • Osmel, the best and most sure-of-success way of establishing a food service business is to form a cooperative of solid, trustworthy individuals, and then go into business cooperatively.

    If the business fails, the loss of investment will be split among all, and individual members will have learned more about running a business for a later attempt.

    If it succeeds, it can grow and provide better service to the public and higher incomes for the coop members. Good luck!

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