New Series Documents The Challenges Of Private Startup Enterprises In Cuba

By Mimi Whitefield
The Miami Herald

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A TV series called “StartupCuba” takes a look at entrepreneurship in Cuba. Some of the episodes explore the lives of private cab drivers and mechanics; internet entrepreneurs; restauranteurs and even bed and breakfast hosts.

The Miami Herald

Starting a business anywhere in the world is always like “swimming upstream,” says the entrepreneur behind a popular Havana restaurant.

But if you’re trying to navigate the private sector in Cuba, it’s like being “in a boat without oars in a current twice as turbulent,” said Sasha Ramos, the owner of El Cocinero, a restaurant located in an old brick cooking oil factory.

With a fashionable rooftop bar and small plate specials, El Cocinero could be at home on South Beach.

But because the restaurant is in Cuba, it’s difficult to get enough of the same kinds of plates, glasses and cutlery so the place settings match, said Ramos, one of the entrepreneurs interviewed in a new nine-part documentary series on Cuba’s private sector.

The series, StartupCuba, premiered Tuesday on VERV.tv, a new digital media company for the U.S. Hispanic market, and also may be watched at YouTube.com/startupcuba.

After a two-week hiatus, new eight-minute episodes — on topics such as private cab drivers and mechanics; internet entrepreneurs; independent designers and artists; budding restauranteurs and bed and breakfast hosts; and entrepreneurs finding a niche in providing services to private businesses — will be released weekly on Tuesdays.

VERV.tv’s mission is to bring U.S. Hispanics news they may not have heard about, and the emergence of Cuba’s entrepreneurial sector was one of those stories, said Ken Deckinger, executive producer and host of StartupCuba.

Even though Cuba continues to be run by the Communist Party, things are happening on the island and entrepreneurs “are indisputably changing their lives, and possibly their country, as they build their businesses,” he said.

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