08/15/13 - NBCLatino - Tech entrepreneur builds bridges between U.S. and Cuba youth
by Kristina Puga
Felice Gorordo is only 30 but he's already worked at The White House,
co-founded a non-profit, helped organize Juanes' groundbreaking "Peace
without Borders" concert in Cuba and received multiple awards for his
leadership and business expertise. He was even been named as one of CNN's
"Young People Who Rock" list in 2009.
Based in Miami, he spends his days being a dad to his 3-year-old daughter
and 4-month-old son while working as vice president of Clearpath
Immigration - a venture-backed tech company which aims to revolutionize the
confusing, costly, paper-based immigration filing process, and also
spearheading the new initiative of his nonpartisan non-profit - Roots of
Hope - which promotes entrepreneurship in Cuba.
"I always had a passion for service," says Gorordo who got a degree in
government from Georgetown University and naturally progressed to different
roles of service in his young, but already impactful, career.
He says he was always entrepreneurial and his passion for Cuba pushed him
to co-found Roots of Hope, when he was still a college student.
"I was 18 and going through an identity crisis," says the Cuban-American,
whose dad came to the U.S. as a boy through Operation Peter Pan, and his
mom came to the U.S. in the 1970s. "I didn't know anything about Cuba
except the stories they shared and photos they showed me."
He says it was hard convincing his parents, but he finally received their
blessing to visit their native island for the first time at age 19. "That
was for me was a transformative experience," says Gorordo. "The people I
met felt that freedom was something you had in your heart."
He used that inspiration to co-found Roots of Hope in 2003. He wanted to
bridge meaningful exchanges between young people in the U.S. and young
people in Cuba. Currently, he says the network consists of more than 4,000
students and young professionals from 60 university groups across the
"The American government and Cuban government have opened up in tech and
economic reforms, and we used those windows to demand for more change,"
says Gorordo. "We collect used phones and send them to our counterparts on
the island. A couple of years ago cellphones were illegal in Cuba, so it's
one way they can connect with the outside world."
He is now on his way to launching an online platform to help Cubans start
their own businesses.
"You can now send remittances to not only family members in Cuba, but also
to individuals who are promoting private sector activity. We are going to
take advantage of that opportunity," says Gorordo. "The government is still
restrictive on the types of businesses you can start. We're talking about
micro enterprises like beauty salons, barber shops, small bed and
breakfasts - this has been outlawed for decades, and we want to help
anyone pursue their dream."
The past few months Gorordo says he's been working on another issue close
to his heart: Immigration. He was part of the team that launched Clearpath
Immigration this year.
"We are trying to be the TurboTax for immigration," says Gorordo about the
multilingual online service which empowers immigrants to fill out
immigration documents themselves instead of having to pay an expensive
attorney. "An attorney can cost approximately $12,000. Our price is $5 to
$200 dollars - a fraction of the cost."
He says what motivates him in his work every day is really the story of his
grandparents not knowing the language when they immigrated to the U.S. from
Cuba. They started anew in their search for freedom and opportunity.
"Till this day, my grandfather still speaks with a heavy Cuban accent, but
he considers the U.S. his home as much as Cuba," says Gorordo. "I want to
help offer the same opportunity to folks who come here and seek a better
life and want to be a part of the American dream."
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