Business in Havana

Faculty-led or custom academic program

Cuba’s strategic geo-political location in the Caribbean once made the island an important colonial possession. At the end of the nineteenth century, sugar served as the country’s sole export which facilitated the nation’s economic transition from a Spanish colony to an independent republic. The 1920’s prohibition era in the United States created an off-shore paradise for the mafia trade of gambling and prostitution just ninety miles from the Florida Keys. After years of criminal, economic, and political corruption, in 1959, the Cuban Revolution brought forth economic reforms that favored the masses. Amongst various transformations Cuba experienced the nationalization of private industries and the redistribution of wealth. Within the global context of the Cold War and the severing of diplomatic relations with the United States, Cuba allied itself with the Soviet economic and political block.

In 1982, Old Havana was named a UNESCO World Heritage site which developed a restoration process that combined historic preservation with international investments aimed at local community development. In the early 1990’s, with the fall of the Soviet camp, Cuba suffered an economic contraction called “The Special Period in Times of Peace” that was marked by electrical blackouts, transportation shortages, and food scarcity. The new millennium relied on another phase of economic restructuring for the country to reinsert itself into the global market. In the last decade, Cuba has developed various privately-owned small businesses that complement state run industries. The mix of entrepreneurial ventures in a post-communist economy, which continues to endure a sixty-year-old economic embargo by the United States, along with the nation’s long history of layered economic reforms, make Cuba a uniquely rewarding site for studying economic and business in the Caribbean.

Our Business in Havana study program includes visas, lodging in Cuban homes with local families, two meals per day (breakfast and dinner with host family), one laundry washing per week, boiled water, and local transportation to all programmed events.

Business in Havana programs designed and operated by Son Dos Alas have included academic lectures with national scholars (all programs are customizable; some conferences may be subject to change based on availability):

- Cuban history and culture
- Contemporary Cuba
- Cuban economy and business
- Cooperatives and self-employment (cuentapropistas)
- Tourism as key component of national economy
- Foreign investment
- Self-employment and small businesses: paladar and/or casa particular (restaurant and B&B) industry
- Media and digital offline applications industry

Business in Havana programs designed and operated by Son Dos Alas have included the following cocurricular visits (all programs are customizable; some locations may be subject to change based on seasons or accessibility):

- Walking tour of Old Havana with emphasis on business projects (both state-run and independent)
- Proyecto Akokan and cafetería Oddara, Community development project in Los Pocitos of Marianao in the outskirts of Havana
- Finca Marta, renewable energy farm
- Finca Vista Hermosa and Café Mediterráneo, farm-to-table project
- Arte -Corte, Barbershop Arts Cooperative in Old Havana
- Private curatorial tour of the Fabrica de Arte Cubano
- Callejon de Hamel, live outdoor music, tour of religious altars, and dance
- Car workshop/garage with a City tour in 1950’s classic cars
- Cubaemprende, a project of the Catholic church of Cuba that offers training and advisory services to Cuban entrepreneurs
- Visit and lunch with a local paladar/restaurant owner
- Old Havana’s San Jose Art Fair to meet and interview vendors
- Visit to Cuban Institute for Radio and Television, media industry
- Visit to a VISTAR Magazine photo shoot to learn about the digital magazine and marketing/branding industry
- Seaside Educational Excursion to learn about Havana’s maritime industry

All custom academic programs also include visits to museums (all programs are customizable; museums may be substituted):

- Museum of the Revolution
- Fine Arts Museum
- Havana’s El Morro Fortress System
- Museum of Cuban Religions
- Denouncement Memorial
- Finca Vigía, Ernest Hemingway’s home
- National Music Museum
- House of Africa
- Literacy Museum with tour of Liberty City pedagogical complex

Delegations may also include a day trip or overnight excursion outside of Havana.


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