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Business in Cuba

Starting up in Cuba but not connected



Nick Muroff of the Washington Post wrote an article recently about one of the major difficulties for digital Cuban start-up businesses – the lack of internet connectivity.  In order to remain connected he explains, many Cubans have to spend a minimum of 5 CUCs an hour to be connected.  Even with this possibility, the Wifi access they buy is incredibly slow with download speeds of 4 or 5 KB per second, something unheard of in North America or Europe.  The slow connectivity speed makes it difficult for Cuban entrepreneurs starting up in Cuba.

Sadly, only 3.4 percent of the total population was able to access the Internet from home in 2013.  The Cuban government has promised that it aims to have “all Cubans” connected to the Internet by 2020.”  Cuba has one of the lowest internet connectivity rates in the world.  This lack of connectivity makes it extremely difficult for entrepreneurs and startups to move forward.

One of the reasons for this is explained by Chris Velazco on Engadget that there’s “only one undersea cable connecting Cuba to the rest of the internet as we know it, and existing satellite data connections… “are questionable”.  Online access is vital for Cuban entrepreneurs and economic growth.  How else will these entrepreneurs be able to successfully and competitively market their businesses?

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Nick Muroff of the Washington Post wrote that,

Great technology companies are born in garages, of course, and that is where 31-year-old Bernardo Romero has launched his Cuban start-up, Ingenius.

And like Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in the 1930s, and Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in the 1970s, Romero doesn’t have Internet access, either.

“At least,” he said, “we have a garage.”

That is no small feat, by Cuban business standards. Romero also has five employees, a sign, printed advertising and a government license to operate his company — almost none of which was allowed by communist authorities a few years ago.”

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The United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in 2012 aimed to bridge the digital divide. Statistics from 2011 revealed that only a quarter of citizens in the developing world had connectivity to the internet.  The IGF believes that internet connectivity for people assists in achieving sustainable economic growth of a nation. The UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 established a set of Sustainable Development Goals known as the “Millennium Development Goals.”

One of these goals for developing nations was to achieve a level 50 percent of the population attaining internet access within five years at an affordable rate.  This affordable rate would equal less than five percent of their monthly incomes.  Achieving this sustainable goal will promote economic growth and make it easier for entrepreneurs starting up in Cuba.

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