Digital start-ups gain ground in Cuba as internet connectivity grows-Xinhua

HAVANA, March 23 (Xinhua) — Miguel Jorge Menendez heads digital start-up El Guajirito, one of Cuba’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), created in September amid the government’s efforts to revitalize the local economy.

Six months after newly passed laws in Cuba allowed him to launch his company, things are going well, the 32-year-old told Xinhua.

El Guajirito develops software, promotes e-commerce, and helps Cuban tourism businesses maintain an online presence.

“It has been a huge challenge for us to become a medium-sized enterprise,” Menendez told Xinhua. “Although it is a very competitive scene, we can make a substantial contribution to the local economy.”

The number of digital start-ups has been growing since authorities gave the green light to the creation of SMEs, which had been banned in 1968.

At present, 97 out of the country’s nearly 2,500 SMEs operate in the field of telecommunications and informatics.

Carlos Miguel Perez, president of Cuban firm Dofleini Software, explores new business opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have started to export some of the software we have developed here in Cuba,” Perez said. “Although we came late to this competitive sector, there is huge potential in our human resources.”

Some 7.5 million Cubans, nearly 70 percent of the country’s population, have internet access, according to the Cuban Ministry of Communications.

And Cuba’s telecommunications company has extended 4G coverage to most of the island’s districts.

“The private and public sectors are working together to seek solutions to improve our society. We are forging work alliances,” Ivan Barreto, director of state-run SME Cinesoft, told Xinhua.

Digital start-ups can provide the public with high-quality services, Communications Minister Mayra Arevich said.

“Small and medium-sized enterprises are indispensable for digital transformation in Cuba,” she said.

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