Three Ways El Paquete Creates More Private Industry In Cuba

Cuban creativity to get online leads to new businesses.

Many of us in North America take the Internet for granted. We gather around screens to binge on our favorite programs, read content, and watch the news. Internet providers clamor for our attention and money with faster and faster Internet packages. Like air or water, reliable access to the Internet has become a kind of inalienable right. We assume it must be like this for everyone.

But, of course, the truth isn’t so simple. For Cubans, it’s been different.

Startup Cuba Episode 4: El Paquete Semanal

In a state run by the Communist party, the Internet has traditionally only been available in government sponsored locations, at very slow speeds, and at exorbitant prices for the average Cuban salary of about $25/month. Media has been state-sponsored with limited original content.

Enter El Paquete Semanal, an offline weekly Internet alternative created by Cuban entrepreneurs and engineers in the private sector. Although private internet is difficult to access, El Paquete is thriving.

Yuri González Aguirre is one of the creators of El Paquete.

Here are 3 ways El Paquete is creating more private industry in Cuba:

  1. Distributors throughout the island download it onto individuals’ hard drives or memory sticks. This distribution has created jobs for many people. Consider this: in 48 hours, potentially 90% of Cuban residents receive El Paquete. One man estimates that 80% of the countryside has a weekly distributor.
  2. Artists and businesses pay to advertise on El Paquete. Given Cuba’s limited access to social media, El Paquete gets them in front of an audience.
  3. There are 3–4 major suppliers of El Paquete, who compete with each other to serve their customers’ needs.

Cubans have had to be creative in dealing with shortcomings in resources since the Revolution in 1959. El Paquete is another example of their ability to innovate under challenging circumstances.