A line of handmade toys designed and manufactured by Cuban entrepreneurs with recycled wood from the Havana industry will arrive for the first time in Europe after Thursday signing an unprecedented agreement that will allow freelancers to take their products to the international market.
The agreement, signed between the Cuban state company Copextel as an intermediary and the German Profumed at the Havana International Fair (Fihav 2019), will mean a great step for the brand, created in 2016 in response to the high demand for children's products in the island and whose name is Gabi & Sofi ,.
"As far as we know, it is the first time that Cuban toys, with a Cuban identity and a Cuban brand, reach the international and European market," Sarilén Morales, one of the members of the non-agricultural cooperative (CNA), told Efe. which is behind the brand.
This non-state management formula is the closest thing to small and medium enterprises in Cuba, whose government does not recognize SMEs for now.
Founded in 2013, CNA Decorarte is based in Varadero – the famous Cuban spa about 100 kilometers east of Havana – where they conceive and manufacture the entire Gabi & Sofi product line, which in addition to educational toys includes school supplies, furniture , decoration elements, textiles and luminaires.
Inspired by the children of the founders, the brand also prints cartoons and prepares animated shorts about the adventures of the two characters with their pets: a crocodile and a zunzun (hummingbird), Cuban endemic animals.
"This export agreement allows all of the brand's products to reach the European market, and thus children from all over the world arrive from Cuba," said Morales, head of the Decorarte online communication team.
The hundred "self-employed" of the cooperative are part of the 617,974 self-employed currently working in Cuba, according to the most recent official data of the sector, which has grown steadily in the last decade thanks to the economic reforms promoted since 2011 by the former president Raúl Castro.
In total, more than 1.4 million people in Cuba work outside the State, a figure that includes license holders for self-employment and their employees.
To respond to the demand for products designed specifically for children at affordable prices in the country, where the average state salary does not reach $ 45 per month, and lower costs, Decorarte uses recycled wood from the Cuban cigar industry.
"This also allows us to use material that was otherwise wasted," said Morales, who also mentioned the actions that the cooperative performs with the community in Varadero and its association with local schools.
The company's educational toys are designed to stimulate different skills in children up to twelve years old and today they can be found at its headquarters and in the stores of several zoos in the west and center of the country.
Soon they hope to expand their presence to Santiago de Cuba, the eastern capital of the island.
Among other projections, the self-employed foresee the signing of another agreement with an Irish-Cuban joint venture Mediatex to produce averages with the brand identity.
The expansion of private work – where CNAs are included – was one of Raúl Castro's key reforms to update the socialist model and reduce the bulky state sector templates.
On the island there are now more than 400 CNAs that bring together more than 17,000 members, most of them in the gastronomy (151), commerce (81), construction (59) and industry (34) sectors.
However, the creation of such cooperatives in highly qualified professions such as doctors, architects or lawyers is not allowed.
Last August the Government published new regulations and temporarily suspended the creation of non-agricultural cooperatives with the aim of "perfecting" this management.
. (tagsToTranslate) Toys (t) Cuban entrepreneurs (t) (t) will arrive (t) Europe