Saturday, August 24, 2013

Small Businesses

Small Businesses / Rebeca Monzo
Posted on August 22, 2013

In spite of negative propaganda from the official media, a large segment
of the population, especially young people, have imagined some sort of
eventual return to capitalism, the only system that allows one to dream.

Twenty years ago, when they first started issuing the first licenses for
small private businesses on a restricted basis, these dreams took some
effort. Small home-based restaurants, known as paladares, led the way
along with homes and bedrooms rented out to tourists as well as old cars
made before 1959 which served as taxis. Only the strongest of these
survived due to, among other things, the large number of restrictions
they had to sort through as well as all the various pressures they had
to endure.

Since then the country has seen a proliferation in the number of small
private businesses with an ever-increasing thematic focus. They include
paladares, sweetshops, daycare centers, carwash and auto detailing
shops, gymnasia, hair salons, barber shops, copy shops, small boutiques,
party and wedding planning services, formal wear rental, 3D movie
theaters and even the occasional spa, to name but a few. All of these
are in the service sector; none are in manufacturing.

Now, what has been the common denominator hindering the development of
all these initiatives? It is first and foremost the absence of wholesale
markets and the dearth of laws authorizing the importation of consumable
goods to help create the proper infrastructure for the establishment and
expansion of these businesses. Another significant issue is demand,
which in the case of paladares is far below the level of supply. This is
not the case, however, when it comes to the well-known timbiriches, or
street vendors, who swarm through the streets offering sparse light
snacks, some of questionable hygiene, at a relatively low cost
commensurate with the salaries and pensions we receive.

On the other hand, the best placed businesses exist where strong
investment is seen. They are, mostly, supported by start up capital,
which can be provided by FE (family in the "exterior"), the foreign
investment union or the children of some high directors who possess the
best residences in this country, due in part to the relations of their
progenitors, and a lot of money "saved" during this half century of
their families in power.

Now appears a not so new method: cooperatives of a new kind (services,
artisans and others), where they group together to offer their services
or sell their products. But first of all, they almost always suffer from
the lack of products, so it is the client who must bring them to be able
to receive the benefits. This is the case of the old garage at Mayia
Rodriguez and Santa Catalina Streets, which is now called "New
Cooperative," a better name for a hardware store and not for an
establishment of this type, without respect to that other more
appropriate, by which it was always known.

In this case the client must bring the wax, the lubricants, etc., even
the detergent.

Anyway, to my view, more than a solution this is entertainment and a way
that the government has to gain time, because they are not deep measures
that can change or restructure the now exhausted economy of our country.
So let's keep "Playing" at this savage capitalism, since from an
optimistic perspective, we can assimilate it as a necessary
entertainment for a not so distant future.

22 August 2013

Source: "Small Businesses / Rebeca Monzo | Translating Cuba" -

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