Entrepreneurs: 5 Starter Steps to Seize Business Opportunities in Cuba

With recent landmark diplomacy between the U.S. and the country, the opportunities are vast

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A handshake between President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro marked a momentous occasion and has launched diplomatic relations between the two countries. This could be a great time for African American entrepreneurs to get into position to do business in Cuba. Cuba has a very large Afro-Cuban population, which is a very important point of identification with African Americans in the United States, and the country has a lot to offer for the budding African American entrepreneur and business person.

Businessman and real estate developer Troy Nash, Ph.D., has traveled to Cuba a half dozen times. Below, he shares pointers to help business owners get positioned to do business in Cuba.

Know the rules. The embargo is still in place and because of the long hostility between the two countries, it’s important to check with the Department of Treasury, specifically the Cuban Assets Control Regulations published in the Federal Register, Nash says. This will give you continual updates to the normalization of relationships and tell you exactly what you can and cannot do under American law.

Learn the history. Cubans are very proud people and appreciate African Americans understanding the Afro-Cuban culture.

Open up. “In my experience as an African American, Cuban’s appreciate open and frank discussion about our similarities and our differences,” Nash says. “Don’t be afraid to let them know who you are.”

Be patient. Change can happen slowly. Because our two countries were closed to one another for so long, recognize that it will take time to build meaningful relationships. You will have to make several trips to the island to establish trust and credibility, Nash says.

Recognize commonalities and relate. “Many Cubans have said to me they feel their struggle under communism is similar to the African Americans struggle for civil rights here in the United States,” he says. “If asked, don’t be afraid to talk openly about the African American experience in the U.S.”

Despite the country’s history, one cannot ignore the kind people, beautiful architecture, and the coming together of European, African, and Caribbean cultures.

If you really desire to do business in Cuba, you should plan a trip to check out the island nation. You will learn the many nuances associated with the culture and the do’s and don’ts of the society. The opportunities for cultural refinement and progressive business development are prime as well as priceless.

Marquita Miller is the founder and CEO of Five Star Tax and Business Solutions, a full service accounting firm in Kansas City, Missouri. A small business expert contributor on CBS & FOX morning shows, Miller is a published author, business strategist, motivational speaker and well known advocate for entrepreneurship. A recipient of Kansas City’s Influential Woman and Woman Who Means Business award, Miller is also a conference speaker and workshop facilitator for TD Jakes Ministries.  www.marquitamiller.com. Twitter:@MarquitaMMiller www.facebook.com/MarquitaMMiller