HAVANA, Cuba — A physical transformation is visible these days along the thoroughfares of Havana and other Cuban cities. Doorways and patios have sprouted new small businesses, licensed by the communist government. They are a centerpiece of President Raul Castro’s effort to inject a bit of entrepreneurialism into the island’s failed state-run economic model.
Snack bars, beauty salons and repairs shops are some of the most common new businesses. Competition has grown intense. Some businesses have gone bust, while others flourish by finding a niche for their services.
Compared to the dismal state-run outlets whose shelves are often bare, the new businesses are the brightest and best-run establishments in Cuba — sending a clear message about the power of the profit motive.
The following is an audio slideshow illustrating some of the locales that exude Cuba's buzzing new entrepreneurial vibe.