Self-employment increases

The banks and government have implemented measures to encourage self-employment in Cuba.

More than half a million Cubans are involved in private work.

Foto: Jorge Luis Baños_IPS

This year self-employed workers again surpassed the figure of half a million, in a reaction that coincides with the facilities of previous months for the access to credits for this sector of the economy, among other measures.

The Labour and Social Security Ministry (MTSS) announced in March that the number of private workers amounted to 507,342 persons. The country reached an almost similar amount for the first time in June 2015 (504,613), but afterward it went down to 496,400 at the close of that year.

 

According to data given by JesúsOtamendiz, director of Employment of the MTSS, the most represented activities continue being the preparation and sale of food and cargo and passenger transportation. The real data, however, is less because almost a fourth of the personnel included in that indicator, 118,693, are not self-employed workers but rather persons hired as employees by other private workers.

 

The official said to the press that out of the authorised personnel to independently carry out trades, 155,554 are young people and 158,308 are women, each of them equivalent to 31 per cent of the total.

Faced by the scarce interest of the self-employed for bank credits, BANDEC has conceived more attractive alternatives and special programmes for the management of microcredits.

Faced by the scarce interest of the self-employed for bank credits, BANDEC has conceived more attractive alternatives and special programmes for the management of microcredits.

 

The general increase took place coinciding with a group of measures that Cuban banking has implemented to make more attractive the credits for self-employed workers. The Banco de Crédito y Comercio (BANDEC) as well as the Banco Popular de Ahorro (BPA) last year reduced the warranties demanded to grant loans to the self-employed and have created other facilities and programmes in an attempt to eliminate the cold shoulder given by the sector to the offer of financing.

 

BANDEC, the institution that has most financed autonomous workers, said mid last year that only five per cent of the self-employed had received loans. But in late 2015 it reported a six-fold increase in loans compared to the previous year: more than 7,000 self-employed workers, with an average amount of credits of 20,000 pesos per client.

 

This bank started putting into practice as an experiment in March of this year in the province of Holguín a programme for the management of microcredits for private entrepreneurs. This forms part of a project for the modernisation of the Cuban banking system that is also being developed by the BPA and the BancoMetropolitano, with the collaboration of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

 

Meanwhile, the Domestic Trade Ministry established in April new tender procedures to promote the leasing by self-employed workers of locales for commerce, gastronomy and services. The government aims to expand an alternative that was already in force in order to recover and give use to spaces that currently remain closed.

 

At the close of 2015, more than 1.4 million persons were working in the non-state sector. In addition to the private workers, the members of agricultural cooperatives and of the most recently created cooperatives in construction, industry, transportation and other areas are included. The non-state sector absorbed 29 per cent of the 4,860,500 persons employed in Cuba at that time. (2016)

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