Small business owner in Cuba hopes to expand company one day
By Hatzel Vela – Reporter
Posted: 6:28 PM, September 15, 2016
Updated: 7:11 PM, September 15, 2016
SANTA CLARA, Cuba – A small business owner in Santa Clara, Cuba, is
taking advantage of the small freedoms he now has and hopes to one day
expand his company.
Roberto Benitez works 12 hours a day, making tiles and other decorative
Processed with equipment, the tiles cobble together from old broken-down
machines, typically Russian.
Workers fill in the mold and then carefully smooth out any defects.
Benitez said a press he and his workers use is made from scratch, and
they often use materials that are re-purposed.
Benitez said he loves owning the mini tile factory and started working
at a state-run tile maker when he was 16 years old.
He said he decided to open up his business five years ago when the Cuban
government eased restrictions on the private sector.
With several workers onboard, Benitez can make up to 400 tiles a day.
He said he dreams of owning a bigger company, where he could hire seven
or eight more workers and make more tiles.
For now, he’s doing well enough to build and keep improving his small
home on the same property.
Benitez handed Local 10 News reporter Hatzel Vela a business card before
he left the shop, reminding Vela that a short time ago, he wasn’t
allowed to have a business card to hand to customers.
This story is part of a series on Local10.com, which seeks to document
the current state of economy in a small Cuban town. Santa Clara, which
is in the central part of the country, made history when the first
commercial flight from the U.S. landed on Aug. 31. With added commercial
flights and tourism, Local 10 News is exploring a growing private sector
and overall life in what likely will become a tourist destination for
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