“Self-employment and the ability to create your own small business has transitioned from rhetoric into reality. It’s in your power to create your own business, doing what you aspire to do, with the people that you want to work with, using your own capital or capital that you’ve borrowed from a friend or family member.” Yamina’ s story is an emerging reality in Cuba. However, the structural challenges these rising entrepreneurs face is staggering. In addition to restrictions and limits imposed by a regime intent on maintaining control even while experimenting with the expansion of a private sector, new businesses are faced with a dearth of financing and limited access to expertise and basic support (CUBANOW.US ).”
With non-state sector employment slated to hit 35% in 2015 as more and more Cubans aspire for greater economic opportunity and individual autonomy the need for entrepreneurial support is massive. This percentage will expand exponentially as agreements between the United States and Cuba begin to take a foothold on Cuban soil. Our focus is on the micro-entrepreneur.
Micro-entrepreneurship allows individuals to monetize their own assets and knowledge, essentially creating a micro-economic/enterprise sector. In a market where internet access and connectivity are limited and costly, alternate avenues for advertising either do not exist or are cost prohibitive, the micro-entrepreneur must rely on innovative mechanisms to acquire a customer base. Although some forms of advertising exists for small business owners, micro-entrepreneurs are often not utilizing them. Resuelto is one response to solving this problem.
PROBLEM/WHY IS THIS PRODUCT NECESSARY?
Imagine a world where traditional advertising is nearly non-existent. This would mean that there are no billboards, television and internet ads, leaflets, or the occasional statue of liberty lady who stands on a corner in Malecon to help sell non-governmental goods and/or personal services. This exercise may conjure an image of a remote landmass in the middle of a dessert or jungle. In actuality, this is modern day Cuba. The absence of advertisement for goods and services is a problem that many in the developed world would wish to have, but it is a stark reality that entrepreneurial Cubans face and must work around, particularly micro-entrepreneurs.
Since fall of 2010 when Raul Castro opened the doors to more small businesses, licensed entrepreneurs have grown to nearly 500,000. These new entrepreneurs are often unaware of how and what is required to reach target customers in a given timeframe. Essentially, they have no marketing and advertising plans. Advertising in particular, has not been a systematic part of running viable businesses in Cuba. The basic assumption has been if you build it they will come.
There are a few examples of small business owners who have taken intentional steps to attract and inform potential customers about their products and services. The most common form of advertising has been with bumper stickers for cars or plastering coupons on windshields. Businesses with a more robust revenue stream have used technology such as the Cellphone Clinic which assists SMEs with regular mass SMS for 3,000 or more messages at a rate of 3 cents per message.
How it works
Resuelto was developed as a mobile application prototype that allows the customer and the micro-entrepreneur to connect via email transport and SMS. In the design, the application synchronizes over email to make it more deployable.
Resuelto solves two major problems. It eliminates the need for interactive internet access. Sixty-percent of the population has access to email so this population would be able to access this technology.
Challenges I ran into
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
What I learned
We did not know how to use appiery.io and zapier before today. It has been a huge accomplishment to learn and use both tools to develop our application.
What's next for Resuelto
Resuelto 2.0 will include a rating system that allows users to rate the services they received and entrepreneurs to respond to reviews.
Resuelto will be deployed in other markets with similar e-access issues.