Non-agricultural Cooperatives and new Economic Players in Cuba

Cooperatives in Cuba have mainly developed in the agricultural sector. However, in the last decade, efforts for the creation of non-agricultural cooperatives (CNAs) have been initiated, and since the 2021 reforms, their approval process was accelerated. This structural change in the sector has occurred simultaneously with the possibility of creating other forms of enterprise, such as micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the private sector.

These historic events in the Cuban economy have given way to a significant period for the cooperative sector and small producers. In this sense, the main task of the DGRV has been to strengthen international cooperation, boost cooperatives and MSMEs’ entrepreneurship, create linkages between actors and provide advice on local capacity building.

Sustainability in Havana Bay

Together with partners in Cuba, such as the Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association (BORDA), the Americas, and the Bahia Habana State Working Group (GTE-BH), the DGRV participated in the planning of the i-DELSA pilot project in the La Prosperidad neighborhood of the Municipality of San Miguel del Padrón. The i-DELSA approach promotes the implementation of decentralized integrated solutions for urban sanitation and wastewater management.

The pilot project considered the following services: rainwater harvesting, urban solid waste management and raw material recovery, wastewater management and reuse services based on cross-sectoral and progressive actions. The DGRV collaborated in the design of the participatory co-management model by proposing a ‘bottom up’ scheme in which the long-term objective is to form a mesostructure that coordinates the management of i-DELSA services at the watershed level.

The formation of cooperatives in the non-agricultural and MSMEs sector is a great opportunity to combine local capacity building and environmental education to promote the transition to more sustainable business models.

Training for cooperatives and small economic units

In the context of the economic crisis resulting from the COVID 19 pandemic and regulatory reforms in the financial, monetary and business sectors in Cuba, the DGRV is supporting new non-agricultural cooperatives and authorized MSMEs through training to enable them to join together and achieve collective goals, which will improve their ability to access domestic and international markets.

These activities have prioritized communication with some enterprises in the municipality of San Miguel del Padrón that integrate recycled materials in their production processes to promote initiatives that contribute to the circular economy.

For these trainings, the DGRV collaborates with the Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association (DVV) and the National Association of Economists and Accountants of Cuba (ANEC) of Cienfuegos.

Exchange of regional experiences

The economic changes in Cuba highlight the importance to learn about other cooperative sector experiences in the region to promote an updated vision of non-agricultural cooperatives and thus take advantage of the relative ease of coordination now that there are fewer than 500 authorized Cuban cooperatives.

The structured exchange on cooperative solutions seeks to emphasize neighbourhood development, regeneration management, education, energy and mobility.

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