Innovadores Update, October 2017
There’s never a dull moment in Cuba, and the last three months were no exception. While we expected a late-summer slowdown as the heat picked up in Havana, the balmy tranquility was interrupted by an invited visitor named Irma. While Havana was hit hard by the hurricane, the worst damage hit further west on Cuba’s northern coast.
Many Cubans were hit hard by the storm, but we’re thankful to report that our colleagues, interns and friends in Cuba are safe and suffered minimal damage. It will take time to recover, but Cuba is resilient. The teams we work with aren’t about to let the weather hold them back.
Clandestina Launches Their Online Shop
Case in point: Clandestina, the clothing brand and design studio based in Old Havana that we’ve been advising over the past year and a half, yesterday launched their official online store. This is an historic first for a Cuban team, where restrictions on internet and shipping makes running a global e-commerce site challenging, to say the least.
The team found a creative workaround: while all products sold on the site will be designed by the Clandestina team in Havnana, they’ll be produced by a t-shirt printer based in in Columbia, SC. The printer, Frenzy, is owned by Innovadores supporter Vance Patterson, who met with Clandestina on one our Cuba trips last March. This type of collaboration is a big step not only for Clandestina, but for Cuban entrepreneurship as a whole.
That’s what Cuba, and entrepreneurship, is all about. Finding creative solutions to challenging problems to do something no one has ever done before. To resolver, no matter the obstacle.
Clandestina is offering all Innovadores supporters 20% off their first purchase. Just use discount code INNOVADORES at checkout.
Innovadores Interns Return to Havana
Innovadores interns Betty, Gabriela, David and Alessa (left to right) in Grand Central Station.
We brought to a close our third successful internship program, which invited interns Alessa, David, Gabriela and Betty to New York to work Code to Work, LOLI Beauty and Innovadores partners Grand Central Tech and Fashion Snoops. We’re proud of the great work they did and very thankful for all the support we received from our partners. And, of course, we’re happy we could provide our interns with a unique experience we hope they’ll never forget.
“It was a wonderful and unforgettable experience. It gave us the possibility to learn a lot and grow professionally…I learned to work as a team, to follow instructions, and to improve my research skills on the web. This program absolutely helped me in my professional growth.”
–Gabriela, intern at Fashion Snoops
“I worked for LOLI Beauty, a company that works with organic cosmetics. I did retouch work for the product photos, internet research, and product and customer analysis. The team was fantastic. They supported me in every moment and showed me just what it was like to work in New York.”
–Alessa, intern at LOLI Beauty
Want to support our intern program?
Cuban Entrepreneurship Perseveres
Despite the eventful past few months, our teams have been working diligently and making tremendous progress. In the true spirit of Cuban resolver, none of them will let a week of power outages or a few feet of water stand in their way.
The well-known Havana jewelry maker Rox950, run by Cuban entrepreneur Rosana Vargas, are now planning to export their jewelry for sale in the United States. This will make it the first time that any Cuban entrepreneur has exported product for sale aboard, and the first Cuban-made product legally for sale in the United States in nearly 60 years. Stay tuned for more information as we’ll be gearing up for holiday sales in the coming weeks.
In between promotional trips to the US, Josuhe has continued to develop his groundbreaking game. It’s been a typical entrepreneur’s journey, but Josuhe expects to have his demo release in the next few weeks. He’s also in the process of evaluating distributors and looking for potential patrons.
Want to mentor or work with one of our teams?
In the News
Cuba’s Castro faces tough choices on the island’s fledgling economy (The Hill)
Innovadores cofounder John Caulfield discusses the challenges Cuba faces as it modernizes its economy and opens up to private enterprise:
“As the Trump administration rewrites the rules on Cuba’s economic sanctions, President Raul Castro and other senior officials addressed Cuba’s National Assembly on the economic challenges their country faces. Castro reviewed progress on the “lineamientos,” or guidelines on Cuban economic reforms he launched after he was elected president in 2010.
The guidelines allow private Cubans to own and sell their personal residences and cars, and to become self-employed in a number of blue-collar and service jobs, but not professions. The formation of private companies was not authorized, although successful self-employed restaurant, beauty salon, and other business owners hired employees to help them.
Although Castro defended his reforms, calling it absurd that the state should run a three-chair barbershop, he acknowledged that he and other leaders had made mistakes.”
A Guide to Havana’s Offline Internet, via Five Cuban Interns in New York (The Observer)
Our interns discuss what their experiences in Cuba and what it was like to come to New York City with Innovadores. Read more →
Thank You, Donald (Miles to Go)
Innovadores cofounder Miles Spencer gives a (slightly tongue-in-cheek) nod to our commander-in-chief for impacting Cuba in an unexpected way: keeping it mysterious. Read more →
Scrappy Cuban clothing line exemplifies ingenuity with U.S. online store opening (Reuters)
Hip Cuban clothing brand Clandestina is not waiting to see how tighter U.S. restrictions on travel to the Caribbean island affect visits of Americans shoppers. Instead, the line is taking its apparel to the United States through e-commerce. Read more →
Clandestina Becomes First Cuban Sportswear Label to Sell E-commerce (Women’s Wear Daily)
While political relations between the U.S. and Cuba might be chilly, the Havana-based Clandestina drove into the U.S. market by launching e-commerce. Read more →
We’re planning two major trips this upcoming quarter. In November, we’ll be forming a team to run in the Havana Marathon, known as the Marabana, to raise money for our foundation. Miles and Jono ran together last year and raised over $5000. At least one of them is very excited to run again this year.
Miles and Jono after the 2016 Havana Marathon
At the end of the year, we’ll throwing out second annual New Years Party in Havana. Last year was an exciting trip, featuring a private rooftop concert with some of Havana’s premier musicians and visits to museums, organic farms, art galleries, restaurants, and more.
If you’re interested in attending either of our upcoming trips, please Contact Us.
It’s been an eventful couple of months, and we’re as optimistic as ever for the future of Cuba. It won’t be a simple path, but then neither was the last 60 years. It’s a land of untapped opportunity and now, more than ever before, it’s open for business.
Want to be a part of the future of Cuba?