Hanah Cho | The Dallas Morning News | July 3, 2014
When you think of Cuba, you don’t exactly think of the island nation as a hub of private enterprises.
But that’s what makes the country so intriguing to members of the Dallas chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization who will have a rare opportunity to visit Cuba this fall and learn from entrepreneurs doing business there.
Entrepreneurship still flourishes in Cuba even though private business owners face more barriers than Americans, says Julie Nelson, owner of Frisco-based event planning company Meeting Muse, which is organizing the trip.
In fact, more than 1 million, or 20 percent, of Cuba’s workforce can be classified as wholly private sector, according to a study by senior fellow Richard Feinberg of the Brookings Institution.
“Entrepreneurs are always forced to think outside the box,” Nelson said. “These people are put in a very small frame of what they can and cannot do.”
Nelson and EO member Jessica Nunez returned Wednesday from Cuba, where they finalized the agenda for the October trip with other EO members. They expect about 30 EO members and their spouses to participate in the trip.
Nunez, CEO of Nunez PR Group in Dallas, said the global organization promotes collaboration and sharing experiences with other entrepreneurs.
“We look to create unique experiences,” Nunez said. “What better way to learn that than to get out of the normal and get into what someone else is doing. Cuba is a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore entrepreneurship in a different way and learn about the challenges in a country controlled by government. As Americans, we have so much curiosity because we can’t go.”
The trip agenda includes having keynote speakers such as a Cuban economist and visiting paladares, a term used in Cuba to describe restaurants run mostly by families.
EO members will be dining at those businesses as well as learning more about how paladares operate.
The trip to Cuba is made possible because it’s a licensed education exchange trip known as a people-to-people tour. People-to-people trips can only be offered by travel companies that have obtained a license through the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Nelson’s Meeting Muse is working with a licensed travel company to facilitate EO’s trip.
The Dallas group will be accompanied by a Cuban guide and an interpreter.