Cuban Businesses Looking for Drivers with Mopeds

While most restaurants offered home-delivery services before the pandemic, they need to increase their courier fleet as a result of the new Coronavirus and an increase in orders for cooked food. JuanKys Pan is one of these businesses, which is also doing its part to help those in need by delivering food to elderly people in the capital’s Marianao municipality. Photo: Taken from www.excelenciasdelmotor.com

Courier services with this form of transport are growing in Havana, in the face of consumer demand and businesses trying to abide by established physical distancing guidelines.

By IPS Cuba

HAVANA TIMES – After public transport was suspended because of Covid-19 and an irregular fuel supply, alternative forms of transport are taking the lead on Cuba’s roads, especially in the capital.

Electric mopeds, which were already a common sight on Cuban roads, are now the most visible.

They gain points for the energy they consume, the distances they travel every day, how quickly they can be loaded and how light they are, and these points are growing every day.

Lockdown at home and social distancing are having a significant impact on families’ livelihoods. After two months of lockdown, many people are only receiving a percentage of their wage, while others have completely lost their income and smaller businesses are considering closing down.

[In effect some 35% of independent workers (which includes small business owners, employees, vendors of all types and trades people) have temporarily turned in their licences. They are all lumped into this category because Cuba does not recognize small and medium size businesses (SMEs) as such. Likewise, the government has provided no asistence of any kind to this private sector.]

In the face of this complex landscape, those with electric mopeds have opportunities to work, which didn’t exist before or that they didn’t need, some of whom risk working illegally because new licenses have been suspended since April.

“Having this form of transport has been a life-saver in this situation,” Yainiris Diaz told IPS.

“Unfortunately, I am the main breadwinner in my household, where I live with my elderly parents and my young daughter. I don’t have time to spend doing other errands other than our own, but if I could, I would sign up as a courier. It’s a way of helping others and create revenue so as not to spend all our savings,” he shared.

Looking for drivers with their own moped

This job announcement is at the top of many Job ads on Facebook and Cuban classified websites.

While most restaurants offered home-delivery services before the pandemic, they need to increase their courier fleet as a result of the new Coronavirus and an increase in orders for cooked food.

On the other hand, other private businesses that aren’t listed as the most essential in the economy, are rethinking their business in order to avoid shutting down. So, they are choosing to launch calls for alternative delivery services and to keep their businesses running as long as they can.

Drivers with their own mopeds are not only being called for by restaurants and cafes. Weekly Package (a TB of digital information, especially entertainment) distributors are also looking for them, as are clothing stores, crafts and ornamental plant stores, make-up websites, to name a few.

With home-delivery services expanding, people are not only investing in essential items, but other kinds of products, especially for special occasions – such as Mother’s Day in the past and Father’s Day which is around the corner – when tradition compels people to buy presents and sweets.

In addition to courier and postal services looking for responsible drivers, there are other business models linked to this work. Some people were quick to see a new business venture in this market and have begun to set up courier agencies, with the aim of optimizing delivery routes and seeking alliances between private companies.

A Havana Delivery Service company.

“I had never thought about becoming a courier, but I don’t have a lot of work right now and I need to bring in money for family expenses,” Ignacio Rodriguez said, who works for a state institution he asked not to be named.

Rodriguez runs routes every day near his home, where he looks for supplies for his own home.

“I try to make the most of going out and the time and moped load. Respecting hygiene measures, this is a good way out of the crisis for moped owners, for business owners who haven’t lost sales, and for customers who receive orders at home for a modest price,” he said.

Courier costs are normally included in the total cost, and this can range between the equivalent of 2-5 USD, approximately, for journeys across the city.

This form of transport was previously used just to get people to work or to sort out family needs, but it has now become many people’s main instrument of work.

So much so, that classified ad websites such as Revolico, are not only calling for people with mopeds, but people are offering their services as well.

 

3 thoughts on “Cuban Businesses Looking for Drivers with Mopeds

  • Here is a perfect example of how the private sector, specifically ambitious entrepreneurs, can contribute to spur the Cuban economy. In an economic crisis situation such as this present persistent pandemic, the individual on the street with the available means sees an unmet local need and turns it into a successful opportunity to be exploited for a little bit of extra financial gain. It’s a start.

    As the author stated this deft delivery economic opportunity for locals becomes a win-win scenario for both the entrepreneur – the moped owner – and the customer receiving the timely service. Adam Smith would be proud.

    This is how a practical market economy operates and succeeds. In other recent posts in Havana Times many economists have contributed their vast scholarly knowledge about possible solutions towards Cuba’s present pathetic economy. The number one solution most post is unfettered private enterprise.

    On a very local level, I am sure the Cuban decision makers and law makers will allow this to continue perhaps as window dressing for outsiders to see, but on a national scale for such private enterprise to flourish unimpeded and unfettered in all parts of the economy from agriculture to tourism, without major internal structural changes, is definitely dubious.

    In one recent post, Cuban law makers were upset because some entrepreneurs were making “too much money”. With that kind of inept attitude coming from decision makers and law makers in key economic portfolios in the centralized government, successful market driven economic change will remain stagnant as the current status quo illustrates.

    Unfortunately, the decision makers, law makers, and the old communist guard will not accept reasonable, intelligent, practical, market driven change but, in fact, impede the private sector to succeed because, to do so, would mean the rapid “Revolution” demise. Sad situation.

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  • Surely, your wonderful ‘friends’ in China would only be too pleased to flood the Cuban market with these mopeds !!

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  • They already have Brian. Six years ago the first electric scooters appeared in most of the GAESA shops – hardware, clothing, foodstuffs – in the lot. They were priced at about 1,200 CUC. Now, the towns are inundated with them, and it is in consequence easy to identify the families that are receiving remittances from relatives and friends in the capitalist world. One of the distinguishing features of Cubans, was that because they had to either walk or cycle everywhere, obesity was rare. But now, one can detect the moped riders by their expanding waistlines. One difficulty is that the electric mopeds are silent and in consequence it is now necessary to double check prior to walking on the road (sidewalks being either uncommon or in disrepair).
    As GAESA is the importer, the prices have risen considerably so they must be making a tidy rake-off. (It couldn’t possibly be corruption in a puritanical communist society!)
    One assumes that GAESA purchases the mopeds from China on credit. Another benefit for the State, is selling the electricity for them. In Cuba, electricity pricing is the reverse of capitalist societies, the monthly account starts at a low price per unit, and rises per unit as more is consumed. Obviously the mopeds use a lot of juice. Another unanticipated cost is battery replacement – well over 300 CUC (an average Cubans annual earnings).
    There are also electric bicycles – my wife has one.

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