Almost completely disconnected from the Internet until 2015, Cuba is an unlikely location for e-commerce to take hold. However, according to Startupi, three young Cubans recently launched an online store to serve the isolated population.
Yunier Soler, Yoslandy Lopez, and Gerardo Rodríguez launched the project just over a week ago and have already registered four sales, even though the site is known by few people. Since the Cuban government began loosening access to the Internet in 2015, almost half of the population has become connected through 500 WiFi hotspots around the country. However, large retailers like Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay are not yet available on the island.
Bulevar Cubano is a platform for Cuban entrepreneurs to sell their products and reach a wider audience. It is also a way for Cuban consumers to access new goods such as t-shirts, soaps, jewelry, and bags, all of which are produced in Cuba.
Since Cubans cannot use online payments due to the U.S. embargo, Bulevar Cubano operates fully on the cash-on-delivery system that has been popular in unbanked areas of Latin America. Although Bulevar Cubano is not Cuba’s first online store, it is the first to serve consumers on the island that have no credit cards or remittances.
While Bulevar Cubano is a recent development, Cuban entrepreneurs are thrilled at the opportunity to reach a larger audience and hopeful that new platforms will follow.