Cuba Study Group
Washington, DC- The Cuba Study Group today released a whitepaper in collaboration with Americas Society/Council of the Americas and the Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International entitled: “Supporting Small Business in Cuba: Recommendations for Private and Public Sector Leaders.” The report is being released just days before the Communist Party of Cuba celebrates its sixth congress --its first in 13 years-- and outlines specific steps the Cuban government, the U.S. government and private sector, NGO and foundation leaders can take to support micro and small businesses in Cuba.
“Cuban leaders have taken positive initial steps to expand independent micro and small businesses on the island, but if this nascent sector is going to play an important role in Cuba’s economic recovery, then Cuban leaders must take additional substantive steps to create a regulatory environment where they can succeed,” said Carlos Saladrigas, co-chairman of the Cuba Study Group.
Among the recommendations outlined in the report are specific short and medium-term private initiatives to provide micro and small businesses in Cuba with the resources and information needed to succeed. Such recommendations include: delivering business training to Cuban entrepreneurs, establishing partnerships between Cuban universities and international NGOs, conducting market research of the environment in which these businesses operate, creating a targeted remittance to entrepreneur program, deploying microfinance funds and establishing an enterprise fund.
“There is a widespread recognition by the Cuban leadership that economic reform is the only way out of the decades long malaise they find themselves in. Now with the laying off of up to one million state employees, the rapid development of a vigorous micro and small business sector offers a promising alternative to another decade of stagnation and decay,” said Josh Goldstein, Principal Director, Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International.
The whitepaper also lists specific steps that the U.S. President and Congress can take to ensure that U.S. sanctions do not hinder small business development in Cuba. Among the steps the President could take are: modifying remittance and export limitations, authorizing travel by general license for NGO’s, establishing new licenses for the provision of services to entrepreneurs and authorizing imports of certain goods and services from independent entrepreneurs. In addition, the U.S. Congress could: authorize bilateral banking, facilitate Cuba’s entry into discussions with multilateral financial organizations and modifying the Trade Sanctions and Export Enhancement Act to expand the list of items that can legally be exported to Cuba.
“On the eve of a Communist Congress that appears committed to addressing the country’s economic hardships, it is important that international groups offer their expertise and have opportunities to assist in these important reforms. This report offers insights and recommendations based on experience and the unique Cuban context and U.S. policy framework to help smooth that process,” said Christopher Sabatini, Senior Director of Policy of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas.
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Ivet González, Inter Press Service