Redesigning

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Sparkfactor.org is Headed to Cuba!

April 01, 2016
By Stephen Thomforde

For those who don’t know, Sparkfactor.org is going to Cuba!

Our Miami based partner Roots of Hope is hosting us on this trip, and we have some great things planned for our time there.

Through their program StartUp Cuba, Roots of Hope runs workshops on small business development for Cuban youth in both Cuba and the United States. Due to Cuba’s current business climate, it can be challenging for a private citizen to start a business. StartUp Cuba's business seminars youth the knowledge and resources to take control of their own destinies through private enterprise.

With all the political changes over the past year, Cuba may be quickly and irreversibly changing. It’s a fascinating time to go!

We'll begin our trip in the western region of Pinar del Rio. While here we'll get to meet with tobacco farmers to learn more about their lives. We'll also experience the natural beauty of Cuba with visits to Cayo Jutias, Santa Lucia, and Las Terrazas.

On our return to Havana, we'll experience more urban life. On our first full day, we'll meet Pedro Vazquez, a renowned Cuban historian and architect. We'll learn more about the urban development of Havana through examples of the city's neighborhoods.

In order to better understand StartUp Cuba's goals, we'll spend an entire morning meeting with private business owners to get a true sense of the challenges that they face.

One of those difficulties: Cuba has two currencies used around the island. This topic deserves far more than a paragraph so I'll return to this after experiencing it myself. Suffice to say, the CUP (Cuban Peso) and CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) are not on equal footing.

At this point, I’ve got my bags packed (only up to the 44lbs allowed) and we leave on Saturday. With limited internet access across the island (only 5% of Cubans have unhindered access!), I’ll report back once we return.

Hasta luego!
--Stephen