Cuban entrepreneurs now make up over 500,000 Cuban citizens who have left their guaranteed government jobs to become cuentapropistas. Ken Deckinger introduces you to the island's new scene of Cubans making it happen.
cuban entrepreneurs are called cuentapropistas
Cuban entrepreneur Leire Fernández talks with Startup Cuba’s Ken Deckinger about finding raw materials for their Clandestina brand products.

More than 500,000 Cuban citizens have left the safety of their guaranteed government jobs for a startup. Called cuentapropistas, which literally translates to “self-employed” in Cuba, these individuals are creating opportunity for themselves and their country. In many cases, these Cuban entrepreneurs earn more money in one-day than the typical Cuban salary of the equivalent of twenty-five U.S. dollars, provides in one month.

Being an entrepreneur in Cuba has provided these citizens with new experiences, the opportunity to travel to the United States and around the world, and to build bridges between Cuban culture and others. Many believe that the path to a prosperous and open Cuba travels through these entrepreneurs. As a result of their work, we’ve seen new considerations and dialogue open in Cuba and between the Cuban and United States governments.

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Although the government defines what types of businesses its citizens can start, the list of established and new startups is relatively broad; restaurants and paladares, barbers, art gallery owners, taxi drivers, fashion designers, marketing agencies, app developers, magazine publishers, and more. And, these cuentapropistas do it all with hurdles that we have never faced in the United States.

They maintain a steadfast commitment to resolver as a new generation of Cubans committed to acknowledging the past while looking forward to the future.

cuban entrepreneurs are called cuentapropistas
Cuentapropista Nelson Rodríguez owns El Café in La Habana. Photo: Karen Vierbuchen

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These hurdles create adversity and technological, economic and governmental challenges from within Cuba and also the over 60 year U.S. embargo. Yet, the rollercoaster they ride is not new to them – these cuentapropistas continue to make it happen. They maintain a steadfast commitment to resolver as a new generation of Cubans committed to acknowledging the past while looking forward to the future. They’re expressing their creativity and cuentapropismo while making money and change their lives and lifestyles and possibly their country.

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Watch the full Startup Cuba Episode #1 about Cuban Entrepreneurs above or here. It’s an introduction to a passion and desire to succeed and create opportunity by figuring it all out for themselves. Because let’s face it, for the past sixty years, that’s what these cuentapropistas have been forced to do.

cuba entrepreneurs are called cuentapropistas
Clandestina is the island’s first independent fashion brand. Photo: Karen Vierbuchen

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