I have come across some pretty sorry and ridiculous reasons for justifying a vacation in Cuba as a guest of the apartheid Castro dictatorship, but this latest one really takes the cake.
Cleveland group going to communist Cuba to learn about capitalism
Entrepreneurs in America tell of enduring an odyssey of challenges: long hours, self-doubt, fruitless quests for financing. To that, their new peers in Havana might say, “Tell me about it.”
After 50 years of Soviet-style economics, Cuba is dipping its toe into capitalism. The early results — cobbler shops, farm stands and home-based restaurants — may not look like much against a Cleveland biotech start-up. But a new economy has to start somewhere.
In Cuba’s nascent free market, some see a chance to glimpse business creation at its most basic and maybe re-learn some forgotten fundamentals. Tours of capitalist Cuba, like one being offered by Cuyahoga Community College, promise a trek through a start-up scene like none other.
“People are amazed at what the Cubans do to make it happen,” said Joseph Scarpaci, a professor of marketing at West Liberty University in West Virginia. “What the Americans are going to learn about is the resiliency of the human spirit.”
That, and the fact that entrepreneurs are pretty much the same everywhere, he said.
Scarpaci, a Cuba expert who leads tours of the authoritarian state, increasingly fields requests to design trips with a business focus. In February, he’ll help guide two dozen or so Clevelanders on a travel program called “Cuba: Entrepreneurship and Emerging Markets.”
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