NCBA CLUSA is disappointed by the recent decision by the Cuban Minister of Finance and Pricing to close and liquidate one of the fastest growing cooperatives in the island nation, undoing recent efforts to decentralize its economy and straining international partnerships.
Scenius, an accounting and financial services cooperative, was the first non-agricultural cooperative to form under a 2011 “economic update” in Cuba that encouraged member-owned cooperatives to provide certain services and goods. It grew from three worker-owners to well over 300 in a short period of time, all of whom will be directly impacted by this action, along with their families.
The announcement of the closure of Scenius comes on the heels of a larger government order that would suspend the issuance of permits for certain occupations and ventures, effectively shunting the potential growth of the Cuban economy.
Cooperatives and small businesses have been a growing part of the Cuban economy, with some 5,000 agricultural cooperatives and approximately 400 non-agricultural cooperatives in the areas of food service, tourism, graphic design, construction, textile manufacturing and other services, like accounting and finance. The cooperatives, whether formed of their own initiative or converted from state-owned enterprises, are managed and operated by the employee-owners who pay taxes, rent equipment and property from the State, pay employee wages and benefits, and make decisions about how to invest their earnings. Many of the cooperatives have become successful businesses despite the challenges they face.
To support the growing cooperative sector, NCBA CLUSA established the U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group (USCCWG) as a platform for peer-to-peer learning through which both Cuban and American cooperators could learn from each other about running cooperative businesses and could seek partnerships for future business and technical exchanges. The USCCWG partnered with Scenius on past trips to elevate and encourage Cuba’s growing cooperative movement.
Over its 101-year history, NCBA CLUSA has partnered with cooperative movements in 85 countries around the world, offering friendship, technical exchanges and opportunities to support each other and the cooperative business model for the benefit of their members and society.