The Cuban entrepreneur

During his stay in Havana last month, Jan Louvenberg provided a workshop on the Key Competences of an Entrepreneur to a group of (starting) entrepreneurs. He talked with the participants about the man or woman behind an enterprise and had an animated discussion with them on their strengths and weaknesses, as well as management styles.

Jan is a Human Resources Consultant & Advisor. Apart from providing the workshop he was also very keen on interviewing several entrepreneurs in Havana. To learn about their requirements and challenges, great input for the development of our full 2017 program!

He based his questions on the McKinsey 7-s management model. A framework that provides insight in:

  • The performance of a company7s-model
  • The likely effects of future changes within a company
  • Alignment within departments and processes

The model is based on seven interdependent factors which are categorized as either “hard” or “soft” elements. “Hard” elements (strategy, structure and systems) are easier to define or identify and management can directly influence them. “Soft” elements (shared values, skills, staff and style) can be more difficult to describe, and are less tangible and more influenced by culture. However, these soft elements are as important as the hard elements if the organisation is going to be successful. For more information you can check MindTools.

Jan interviewed several entrepreneurs in Havana, which gave him a nice impression of the creativity of the Cubans when starting and running a micro or meso enterprise. Some of the take-aways from his interviews are described below.

  • The entrepreneurs are optimistic, they feel there is more space for entrepreneurship and there are lots of opportunities
  • Cubans are very eager to run their own business but don’t always know how to start. People tend to copy other success stories. That’s one of the reasons why many restaurants sell the same food, the same kind of bread with cheese and ham, the same kind of juices, sweetened coffee
  • On the one hand, there is a group of youngsters that have an enterprising and creative mind. They look for new ways to make money, which is then invested in their business. On the other hand, some youngsters, often highly educated, don’t see the advantages of starting their own business and even prefer to look for job opportunities abroad
  • Many starting entrepreneurs don’t know how to obtain a microcredit, since it’s not easy to apply for a loan through the banks. Once an entrepreneur receives a loan it’s not always said that he/she knows how to handle the loan or what to invest in. Not everybody has the right business and financial skills to run a small business or to write a sound business plan
  • Entrepreneurial skills are quite alike all over the world, but the circumstances differ. In Cuba enthusiasm, perseverance and innovative ideas are needed to break through the bureaucratic system, in Western Europe innovative ideas, decisiveness and creativity are essential to beat the fierce competition 
  • Internet is essential!

We thank Jan for his valuable research. The outcomes are very useful input for our trainers meeting in November. During this meeting we will discuss the content of the full training program we plan to offer as from spring 2017 in Havana. The program will be developed in close cooperation with ANEC and the workshops will be provided by a Cuban and a non-Cuban expert at the same. This is fully in line with our principle to always work in close cooperation with Cuban parties, to warrant the Cuban context and expertise within our offer.