I got a memory reminder from Facebook–I generally hate them–but this at least helped me place a watershed moment in Cuban-American relations…the day I met John Caulfield. In the two years since, the Innovadores has blossomed under John and Jono’s efforts, and I have played a small part in assisting them.
In March, Innovadores led another trip to Havana for some of the United States’s leading entrepreneurs, all members of the New York-based entrepreneurial network the Business Owners Council. The visit explored the breadth and depth of Cuban innovation and entrepreneurship.
The start of an annual tradition, this winter Innovadores organized a New Year’s trip to Havana Cuba for a group of 10 young professionals in the fields of design, marketing, engineering, tech, and architecture.
In addition to the regular Innovadores activities—including meetings with entrepreneurs, a tour of Old Havana, and dinners with Cuban creators—this trip focused two of the most interesting areas of Cuban culture and industry: Art and Agriculture.
This year the Innovadores foundation started an annual tradition and sponsored a team in the Havana marathon, know as the Marabana (catchy). It was a ton of fun and a one-of-a-kind way to see the city. The event drew over 5000 competitors from all over Cuba and the world.
In November, the Innovadores team took another trip to Havana with a team of leading entrepreneurs and businessmen to assess the state of tech, design and entrepreneurship. The visit included a briefing from US Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, a roundtable discussion with Cuban entrepreneurs, a meeting with Idania Del Rio at her clothing and design shop Clandestina, visits with entrepreneurs and teams working in Havana, and a trip to the Fabrica de Arte Cubano with the Innovadores interns.
For the second year of our exchange program, the we’re once again sending three brilliant Cuban students to the United States to work at one of the premier startup incubators in the world. For these young Cubans, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity: a fully-funded trip to New York City for six weeks to intern at Grand Central Tech (GTC) in Manhattan. For us, it’s an opportunity to educate the next generation of Cuba on how innovation and technology development is done in the US.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. ~Margaret Mead
The Innovadores Foundation just completed the most amazing year of progress, thanks in no small part to that small team, and the support of donors who believed it could be done.
This past April, Innovadores visited Cuba to meet with the next round of candidates for our 2016 internship program. Below are Innovadores advisor Eileen Scully’s observations on Cuba and what it’s like for female innovators.
One of the first things you notice upon arrival in Havana is how highly Cubans value their artists. Starting in primary school, art and music are a core element in education–not an optional or occasional indulgence as in the US.
Sometimes you hit it with a name. Often, you don’t.
After much thought, we decided to rename our recently named CAA Foundation as the “Innovadores Foundation” . This was to not to confuse ourselves further with the CIA when dealing with an island nation whose last fifty years were spent not exactly loving that branch of our government. Seems prudent, no?
Greg Matusky traveled to Cuba in February 2015 as an advisor to Innovadores, for a chance to meet with some of the promising innovators on the island.
Cuba represents a huge, untapped market for American businesses and marketers. Located only 90 miles from Key West with a population nearly three times that of Puerto Rico and a literacy rate higher than here in the US, Cuba holds vast promise. But is it even realistic to pursue business in this island nation? I was fortunate enough to travel to Cuba with the Innovadores Foundation this past February to assess the risks.