Doing business in Cuba has been historically difficult. However, diplomatic tensions between this Caribbean country and the United States have eased over the past decade, signaling new opportunities for growth. Before you get too far ahead of yourself, though, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the market. By taking the time to perform your due diligence at the start, you set your organization up for success. Below are several factors to consider.
1. Legal Defense for Foreigners
Before doing business in Cuba, it’s critical that you understand the laws that will affect you and your business. For example, in the case of a legal dispute, you are entitled to a defense, but that lawyer will most likely be a government employee. Also, the Constitution states that the State’s interests take priority over the rights of the accused.
If you choose to find a private lawyer, they cannot represent you in court, but they can advise you. Hence, it’s crucial that business owners thoroughly research the Cuban laws and regulations that could impact their organization before moving forward with a retail IT deployment in this market.
2. Cooperatives vs. Corporations vs. Companies
American companies are very different in the eyes of the law than Cuban companies. When American business owners create their business entity, that business becomes liable for bankruptcies and similar issues. In Cuba, business owners can create “corporations,” but those corporations do not assume any liability.
Some Cuban business owners establish a cooperative, a worker-owned business model that was originally only open to agricultural businesses. Recently, the government has begun to relax that, allowing businesses in other industries to create cooperatives. However, it’s important to note that while cooperatives are beneficial for tax breaks, they do nothing to remove the liability from the owner and employees of a business.
3. Political Tensions
Chances are you’ve already thought of this one. While the tensions between the United States and Cuba have begun to relax, there is certainly still a long way to go. Between allowing lawsuits from American citizens against Cuban businesses and the generally rocky history between the two nations, it’s important for American companies to tread lightly and be aware of the political climate.
4. Language and Culture
Besides learning the local laws and regulations, retailers should study the language and culture of a new target market.
Spanish is the primary language in Cuba, although it’s a Caribbean variation that is most similar to Dominican or Puerto Rican Spanish. About 4% of the country also speaks Haitian Creole, while most businesspeople speak English.
Some businesses include Saturday in their work weeks, and most Cuban businesspeople dress very casually for work. A business lunch is much more common in Cuba than a business dinner, as discussing work over dinner is considered inappropriate. Personal relationships are also critical to business negotiations in Cuba, as political officials tend to have strong influences in these dealings.
When planning a retail IT deployment in Cuba, you need experienced global field techs who understand the intricacies of your target region, including local laws, language and culture. Here at Kinettix, we have teams in place to provide support and IT resources 24 hours a day, seven days a week in all time zones. We are here to help you plan and implement your retail IT deployment, so you can expand into new international markets with ease.
Our strong global alliance is made up of vendors, clients and partners in over 90 countries. When you are ready to start doing business in Cuba, contact us so we can set your retail IT deployment up for success.