From prototypes of spare parts for medical equipment to the design of swabs to take the samples that allow detecting the coronavirus; from an application and website to carry out orders for the Cuban family, to drones to promote precision agriculture, or the first Afro-style store in Cuba; from the solutions undertaken by representatives of the non-state sector with an impact on the economic and social life of the country, and their possibilities of becoming small and medium enterprises, he dealt, among other issues, with Pyme Lab, an initiative of the embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium, the hub agency. brussels, the Delegation of the European Union and the Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP).

The event invited businessmen, academics and officials from both countries to discuss the role of SMEs in modern life, based on the practice of young entrepreneurs from the Belgian country and what, in Cuba, under the legal framework that authorizes self-employment, can and must still be achieved, especially with a view to creating the legal framework that guarantees the orderly development of SMEs.

A necessary preamble allowed to know that in Belgium, SMEs represent 63% of the creation of wealth, 99% of exports and 68% of the generation of jobs, according to Jehanne Roccas, Ambassador of the Kingdom of that country in Cuba.

In her opinion, the Caribbean Island has “a reference academy” and, like hers, it is a country of science. That reason, together with the recognition of the SMEs as indispensable in the recovery of the economy after the Covid-19, build the proper scenario to talk about these issues.

Alberto Navarro, Ambassador of the European Union in Cuba, agreed with her. For him, the process of monetary and exchange rate unification also imposes the challenge of creating wealth and distributing it, in a context where all the actors are important.

The conditions are created for this, according to Dr. Johana Odriozola, Vice-Minister of the MEP, when she said that the Constitution of the Republic approved in 2019 recognizes private and mixed property. Hence the strategy of learning from the best experiences of other countries on SMEs, said Odriozola, and stressed that they are working on a clear legal framework that allows them to contribute to the development of the country.

Several of the papers presented were devoted to how to do this and how much progress remains to be made in this area. The absence of a Law on Commercial Companies, and a Commercial Code dating from 1886, almost completely repealed, were among the points presented by Dr. Natacha Mesa Tejeda, professor of the School of Commercial Law at the University of Havana.

For this reason, together with the regulations governing the constitution and operation of the SMEs, a reform of the Cuban commercial legal system is urgently needed. “In the private sector there is an increasing growth of businesses, which hire labor force, generate volumes of income, and many surpass the limits stipulated for self-employed workers,” she said.

Some of the proposals were that in the establishment of an SME, the figure of a notary should be valued, who would give faith and ensure compliance with what is established by law, instead of an administrative entity; to prepare a regulation of minimums, which would regulate essential aspects related to the operation, under flexible schemes; and to offer attractive incentives to this sector.

Dr. Ileana Díaz, coordinator of the Entrepreneurship Network of the University of Havana, affirmed that among the challenges is to eliminate the negative list of activities to be carried out in the non-state sector; to achieve a real chain, which beyond being productive, is also a management one; to overcome obstacles in hiring and to put in equal conditions state and non-state actors.

Other demands were directed at not promoting subsistence SMEs; focusing on knowledge-based, technology-based and export-oriented SMEs; and recognizing SMEs that contribute to the country’s productive strategy and the satisfaction of the population. This was the proposal of Verónica Rives Amaro, legal advisor to the MEP, who added some of the support mechanisms in the international arena that should be taken into account, such as fiscal incentives, financing, guarantees, access to credit lines and micro-credit, training, advisory services and information, administrative simplification, a clear regulatory framework, insertion in value chains, export promotion, promotion of innovation and the existence of bodies that serve SMEs.

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