On my trip to Cuba in November of last year I spoke with a number of pastors regarding the government’s announcement that in 2011 people would be able to obtain business licenses, hire employees, and work for themselves (paying a fixed monthly fee and taxes on the profits, of course). At that time there was a lot of uncertainty and even pessimism about the new opportunities.
Having just returned from Cuba, I can tell you that there are already both failures and success stories. Some who tried to set up food-based businesses (such as baking cookies or pizzas and selling them out of their home) have already given up because the state has not set up a wholesale market for ingredients that allows them enough profit to make it worthwhile. (They will fix this, I’m sure.)
Others that I spoke with in April had already employed a couple of people, had made some money, paid their taxes, and were eager to obtain more capital and expand. Primarily these were businesses that could charge a fair mark-up on their labor.
In particular I met with a friend who sews and sells clothing and dolls in order to bless the elderly in her church. I also met with a pastor whose women’s department is starting a hair salon to benefit their church.
I wonder if the time has come for the American church to begin micro-finance ministries to help these small church-based businesses grow?
With capital, advice, prayer, and good local oversight by church leaders, these businesses could become a real blessing to the Church and to the Cuban people. And with the policy changes made by the Obama administration, donations to churches in Cuba are now legal and limitless.
Are you interested? Please contact me.