InCubando@FIU: A Summer Program to Boost Independent Businesses in Cuba

Image: paladar.png
One of Cuba's many paladares, small privately-owned, family restaurants. Photograph courtesy of Getty Images.

FIU has joined forces with StartUp Cuba to offer a summer program designed to foster and support entrepreneurship in Cuba.

The program, called InCubando@FIU, will kick off in Miami in May 2016 and run for six weeks. The curriculum will consist of business classes, taught in Spanish by instructors affiliated with FIU's College of Business, and intensive English classes by FIU's English Language Institute instructors.

The application process is open to Cuban entrepreneurs under the age of 40, who have a self-employed (cuentapropista) license issued by the Cuban government and have been operating a business on the Island for at least one year. All applicants must commit to return to the Island once they complete the program.

"A strong entrepreneurial community is vital to the well-being of any country," said Dr. Jorge Duany, director of the Cuban Research Institute, in the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs, and one of the organizers of InCubando@FIU. "In StartUp Cuba we have found the ideal partner that shares our interest in building bridges to Cuba in a way that is concrete and empowering to Cubans on the Island."

Duany said that InCubando@FIU aims to bolster the Cuban entrepreneurial spirit with practical skills in areas such as finance, accounting, business plan writing, marketing, and sales. Also, program participants will have several hours a day of English language instruction and will be exposed to concepts in micro and macroeconomics, free markets, leadership, management, and team building.

Participants will live in student housing on the FIU Modesto Maidique Campus and will have opportunities to visit and interact with local entrepreneurs, some of whom will serve as mentors to members of the group. The cohort of approximately 15 participants will receive privately-funded scholarships to cover their academic and living expenses.

"Entrepreneurs have always been at the center of life in Cuba, even in the most challenging times. We're excited to help build bridges between entrepreneurs on both sides of the Florida Straits," said Raúl Moas, executive director of Roots of Hope, the nonprofit sponsor of StartUp Cuba. "InCubando@FIU is an opportunity for us to support young Cuban entrepreneurs who are already carrying out a real transformation of Cuba."

The deadline to submit applications was January 30, 2016.