10/01/13 - EFE (Madrid) - Cooperatives Continue Expanding in Cuba
HAVANA Cooperatives continue expanding as the new business model in Cuba, where some 70 co-ops officially started up Tuesday.
Most of the new co-ops will operate in the areas of retail, restaurants, services, transport and construction, as part of the modernization of the socialist economic model promoted by the Raul Castro government.
Notable among the new enterprises are Vitria and Calflat, two cooperatives made up of alumni of vocational schools run by the Office of the Historian of Havana, or OHC.
Theres no experience of this in the whole country, its completely new, something for the times we live in, the 23-year-old president of Vitria, Irena Martinez, told Efe.
Making stained-glass windows and lamps and doing glass restorations are at present the companys main business.
For his part, the president of Calflat, Jose Carlos Mesa, told Efe that he has three partners and one is an ex-teacher of ironworking at the workshops of the OHC, which rented them the place and up to now is their main client.
The Cuban government hopes this new business model will help raise the quality of services on the island.
For example, the Bella II Beauty Institute in Havana was state-owned and operated until a few days ago, but this Tuesday it opened for business as a co-op and is the only place in the Cuban capital offering a gymnasium plus hairdressing, waxing and massages.
The state company that formerly managed the institute has given them reasonable terms for renting the building for a year, along with other temporary benefits for buying or renting equipment and products.
Even so, many of the former workers, who are now partners, have their doubts about the future.
Were not used to taking responsibility for the company, or having the whole weight of responsibility on our shoulders its something new thats just beginning, so we just have to go ahead and let a little time pass to see what happens, Adriana Cervantes, president and administrator of Bella II, told Efe.
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