Photo Credit: Stevie Borrello

As the number of international tourist arrivals to Cuba has been growing in recent years, party planning is becoming a new way for Cubans to make a living.

Yamina Vicente, a former economics professor at the University of Havana, started her own party planning and decorating business – Decorazon – a few years ago.

Ms. Vicente spoke at the luncheon hosted by Global Innovation Forum in 2017.

Differing from many businesses in the same industry targeting the tourists, Decorazon targets primarily local Cubans. And Vicente markets the business mainly through old-fashioned word-of-mouth, fliers, and business cards. She also uses Facebook given that more Cubans have access to the Internet nowadays.

The main challenge faced by Vicente is that her clients’ budgets vary a lot. So she designed the party services to have a price for everyone, starting from as less as 10 CUCs (around $10) per event to as much as 100 CUCs (around $100) per event.

Though not directly, Vicente recognizes the value of the improved U.S.-Cuban relation and the benefits gained from it. “I have a business whose clients are 80%, domestic, so I’m not directly linked to US visitors. However, I have felt the impact of a more open policy: my clients are entrepreneurs who solicit my interior design services for their privately-operated homes, hotels, and restaurants,” Vicente explained, adding that the uncertainty around future U.S. policy is impacting the private sector of the country since many U.S. visitors get scared by the new policy and choose to cancel their visits to Cuba and go somewhere else instead.

“We know that the current administration says it wants to help private businesses in Cuba, but the effects of this new policy are harmful to us. We need to work together to make sure that the people making the decisions are as informed as possible in Cuba,” Vicente said.