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Export as agile as possible?: The experience of Dofleini Software, the first official Cuban MSME


When in 2021 Dofleini Software became the first official Cuban MSME, its managers had the expectation of increasing the exports that they began under the umbrella of self-employment. Today, although every month they report sales and have accessed the Canadian, English, Spanish markets and “sometimes someone else joins in”, the aim is to make the process “as agile as possible”, without unnecessary mediators.

This project, which offers the “specialized software development service in different areas”, was one of the first within the new technology sector to export, after this possibility was approved in 2020 for private forms of management, through state entities.

Always with Desoft as mediator, since that year Dofleini Software has been exporting “consecutively every month”. Its leader, Carlos Miguel Pérez Reyes, tells how this experience has been in an activity considered essential for the recovery of the country’s economy.

Sitting in his office, the young computer scientist explains that until now they have only agreed with Desoft, even though the MSME is incubated in the Havana Scientific and Technological Park, which also has facilities to carry out foreign trade activities, and that there are other authorized companies. , including Softel, Solintel and Citmatel.

“Dofleini has brought all of his clients to the table. Desoft does not put the market. We manage 100% of our clients, we know who they are and what they want. Once everything is well matured, we present it to Desoft”, comments Carlos and regrets that in this process of formalities they have lost potential clients.

The paperwork “sometimes takes between two and three months”, because “the company that intends to hire your services must show if it has the money to pay, if its bank can transfer the money to Cuba and if it is of Cuban origin, meet other special characteristics. ”.

The leader of this MSME of six partners and 51 workers considers that Desoft certainly allowed them to “engage” with the existing mechanisms in the country for foreign trade, in which they had no experience.

“For example, when you are a new client, you must register with Mincex, and you also work with international courts for conflict resolution, in accounts receivable… Desoft has more experience in this, but we think that the processes could be more efficient. , using technology. So that the contracting is 100% digital and takes place in one day, without mediating the classic signatures on a page”.

Above all, Carlos insists, because in programming and computer activities there is a very competitive market at an international level, and “if there is a slight obstacle that prevents either payment – ​​one of our big problems due to the blockade – or efficient contracting , the client leaves and looks for another company”.

ely to foreign trade activity. Its corporate purpose is not to make our path to foreign trade easier. They have to make software for Cuba and export their own products and services, and also deal with all their contracts.

“The fact that they have to take over a piece of someone’s work, I see it badly in several directions. The first, they are our competitors; the second, we are putting the socialist state company at risk, which is showing its face to the world to represent a form of management that it could not even know; and the third is that it is playing the role of judge and party, making decisions based on its own interests, and not based on the interests of the exporter”.

In addition, he adds, these large state-owned companies have complex work mechanisms: thousands of contracts, hiring committees, business groups… “This slows down the processes, unlike small companies, whether private or state-owned.”

The Government announced that state microenterprises specialized in providing import and export services to non-state management forms would be approved. Carlos points out that up to now there is no MSME dedicated to foreign trade, at least in programming and computing activities, and considers that, although this route can improve the current situation, in the case of software development, direct export would be more convenient.

In his opinion, other barriers to exports are built from the standards themselves. “The regulations are designed to export tangible goods, things that can be assembled in a box. But there are other activities, like ours (computer specialists, designers, social networks) that move away from these traditional rules. For example, the procedures are not intended to export short-term IT services”.

For each service that Dofleini exports, 20% of the payment is received in Cuban pesos, at the official rate of 1 USD x 24 CUP. Of the remaining 80%, Desoft charges a 3% commission.

In the Round Table this Monday it was announced that certain non-state economic actors will be authorized to directly carry out foreign trade activities under the control of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment. “We are evaluating starting with the entities that export computer services,” said the first deputy minister of that body.

If this state mediation were eliminated, how would they develop the foreign trade activity? “The first thing would be the export of our products and services through digital platforms. A completely online service, as agile as possible, at the level of the first world. In fact, this platform is already prepared.

“We would do it with total transparency, in terms of taxes, income and number of clients, and always in accordance with what is established in the country,” says Carlos.

However, he considers it valid to maintain the option that a specialized state company can represent the interests of non-state forms, which exists in other countries. “We understand that certain self-employed workers or small companies, who have not had much experience in exporting services, may see these mediating companies as an important alliance.”

Obtaining and increasing foreign currency is an urgency for the country; remove obstacles and streamline processes, a necessity, even more so when entering the international market from Cuba is not an easy task. “Our infrastructure does not have the same level of development as that of other companies in the world and accessing certain financing is complex.

“But it can be achieved, we have shown it,” says the leader of Dofleini, whose efforts are also dedicated to the digital transformation of Cuban society, with total certainty. They work in more than 30 companies on the creation of systems that are disruptive, that is, that change the way technology is used in order to be more efficient.

(By: Lissett Izquierdo Ferrer, Abel Padrón Padilla, Ana Álvarez Guerrero, Cubadebate)

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