HAVANA, Mai 7th (HT) The Madrid government said on Monday that it would convert some 375 million euros (420 million dollars) of Cuban debt owed to Spain into investments in the island, reported dpa news.
HAVANA, August 14th Nowhere more so than in linking Cuba’s rapprochement with the U.S., which is driven by normalizing diplomatic relations combined with decade’s worth of pent up business and tourist interests, with the need to turn around Puerto Rico’s fortunes in a manner palatable Read more
HAVANA, Dec.10th (CNN in Business News) A recent event at Havana’s Panorama Hotel provided a unique view into the future of Cuba. Some 50 would-be business owners attended Cuba’s first-ever Startup Weekend, listening to presentations, holding workshops and refining business models. Listening to the young entrepreneurs in attendance reinforced my conviction that Cuba is a huge opportunity for venture capitalists.
Over the next decade, U.S. venture capitalists will likely fund hundreds of projects in Cuba, finding a way to bridge infrastructure shortcomings and to work with the Socialist government to help foster a new age of economic prosperity. If that sounds overly optimistic, remember Vietnam.
After a long war that ended in 1975, Washington cut off relations with the Communist government of Hanoi until 1995. Since then, the economy has flourished and venture capitalists, including U.S. firms, have invested heavily there. American companies have poured $11 billion into more than 700 projects in Vietnam, ranging from manufacturing to hospitality. Intel, Ford and Microsoft are among the U.S. corporations operating in the Communist nation.
Venture capitalists seeking an opportunity that could rival the type of explosive growth seen in Vietnam need look no further than to Cuba. The seeds of that growth could be seen in the resourcefulness and enthusiasm of those at Startup Weekend Havana. The event was organized locally by a grassroots effort and was like others held in places such as Myanmar, Afghanistan and Palestine.
Early-stage venture capitalists want to see two things: the pool of talent and the need for a given solution. Cuba has both in spades.
In Cuba, the pool of talent is deeper than in most of Latin America thanks to a free education system that boasts more than 47 universities and 400,000 students. A report by The World Bank credits Cuba with the best education in Latin America.
The need — or problems new businesses will address — is clear after more than a half century in which the economy has been largely isolated. Cuba lacks basic infrastructure such as reliable Internet and even supermarkets, meaning the opportunities for new businesses are boundless.
There are four major areas that could pay huge dividends:
Everything from food to entertainment to transportation is needed in Cuba. One entrepreneur at Startup Weekend Havana pitched an app to locate a pharmacy that has the medication you need in stock. There are opportunities to create companies offering everything from taxi services to dating platforms to concert listings.
Banking and financial tech
Financial services in Cuba are largely informal and present a huge opportunity for businesses that can make finance on the island more sophisticated.
Cuba is a leader in organic farming and non-GMO agriculture, as isolation has meant an absence of genetically modified seeds. Businesses that can use technology to scale these operations.
Tourism technology that connects people with experiences and services is another strong area for investment.
Venture capitalists can visit Cuba, traveling under one of the 12 exceptions approved by the U.S. Department of State. Once there, you can get the lay of the land, seek out entrepreneurs who have been successful in small, state-approved (generally cash-only) pursuits, and begin to understand the opportunities and challenges ahead.
Anyone doubting that a hearty breed of entrepreneur exists in Cuba should acquaint themselves with El Paquete, or The Package — a weekly hard drive that costs five Cuban pesos and contains the latest TV shows, music, movies, apps, magazines and news. Subscribers have 24 hours to download what they want before the hard drive is picked up the next day.
That’s just one example of how for half a century Cubans have navigated the technological and logistical challenges of a primitive economy that has been semi-isolated by a U.S. trade embargo, as well as by Cuba’s own restrictive policies.
Those lucky venture capitalists who visit Cuba will be like the Americans who went West during the Gold Rush, pioneers on one of the last wide-open frontiers of capitalism. Helping entrepreneurs successfully navigate such difficult challenges is what we do.
HAVANA, July 13 (EFE) Cuba plans to build seven wind farms financed by foreign investors under a program aimed at developing renewable energy sources in the medium term, Energy and Mines Minister Alfredo Lopez said.
The project is part of an effort by the island to generate 24 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, with officials planning to attract more than $600 million in foreign investment.
Cuba plans to build six other wind farms using different sources of funds as it boosts clean energy generation.
Slightly more than 4 percent of the island’s electricity is generated using renewable sources today, the official AIN news agency said.
The 13 new clean energy facilities will be added to a fleet of four existing wind farms, which have 12 MW of generating capacity and are located in different parts of the island.
Increased use of wind, solar and hydroelectric power plants will help Cuba reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and save about $780 million annually, Lopez told the National Assembly.
Several other foreign investment projects in the solar photovoltaic sector are being evaluated, Energy and Mines Ministry officials said.
Cuban officials did not identify the country of origin of the investors in the wind farms, but Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Mario Giro said last week that the island’s government was evaluating several energy projects, including the construction of three wind farms, with Italian companies.
Spain, for its part, has expressed interest in investing in Cuba’s renewable energy industry and several delegations, including one led by Industry, Energy and Tourism Minister Jose Manuel Soria, traveled to the island recently.
Cuba’s renewable energy industry currently operates 10,595 solar water heaters, 9,343 wind turbines, 827 biogas plants and 169 hydroelectric power plants, as well as solar panels and solar power plants.
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