U.S. Embassy Havana PAS Small Grant Program in Support of the Cuban Private Sector

Published Date
February 26th, 2024
Close Date
April 26th, 2024
Total Funding
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Award Floor
Expected No. Awards
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U.S. Mission to Cuba (DOS-CUB)

Eligible Applicants


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Cost Sharing or Matching Requirement



The U.S. Embassy Havana PAS Small Grant Program in Support of the Cuban Private Sector, offered by the U.S. Mission to Cuba, is a grant opportunity aimed at providing support for Cuba's emerging private sector. The program seeks to address the economic downturn in Cuba by assisting Cuban citizens in turning their ideas into thriving businesses that can provide income, employment, and goods and services to meet the needs of the Cuban people. The program also aims to strengthen ties between American and Cuban businesses for mutual benefit. Priority program areas include providing information and networking opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs, supporting current small business owners in growing their businesses, offering training and development for medium-sized business owners, and facilitating mentoring and networking opportunities between Cuban businesses and experienced Americans in similar industries. Various activities, such as speaker series, networking events, mentoring programs, and training initiatives, will be considered under this grant opportunity. Eligible applicants include not-for-profit organizations, educational institutions, and civil society/non-governmental organizations with programming experience. The grant has an award ceiling of $150,000 and an award floor of $50,000, with an estimated total program funding of $400,000. The deadline for submission is April 26, 2024. For more information, contact the US Embassy Havana Grants team at usembassyhavanagrants@state.gov.


A. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION The Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Havana is pleased to announce funding availability through its Public Diplomacy Small Grants Program for projects designed to provide support for Cuba’s emerging private sector. In the midst of one of the most significant economic downturns in Cuban history, the Cuban government now allows the creation of privately held small and medium-sized enterprises. Since the announcement in March of 2021, the Cuban government has licensed over 10,000 privately owned businesses in every possible sector. However, since most Cuban citizens grew up in a communist system that did not allow private business, Cubans often lack the experience required to turn an idea into a thriving business that will provide income to the business owners, employment for other Cuban citizens, and goods and services needed to meet shortfalls in what the government provides. The Cuban private sector also faces criticism both from internal and external audiences. In addition, the economic downturn has led hundreds of thousands of Cubans to leave their country through any means available in search of better lives for themselves and their families. Helping Cuba businesses grow and thrive can provide economically viable opportunities to many who would prefer to stay but see no way to provide for their families. Purpose of Small Grants PAS Havana invites proposals for programs that will strengthen the emerging Cuban private sector by facilitating the transfer of American know-how and values to emerging entrepreneurs, expanding entrepreneurship opportunities to a broader, more diverse audience, and strengthening ties between American and Cuban businesses to benefit both. Proposed programs should carefully consider how to provide an effective mix of materials generally applicable to starting and running a business and how those materials must be adapted to the unique and complex Cuban business environment. To be successful, all programs must include a U.S. business and/or educational element or connection with American expert/s, organization/s, or institution/s, demonstrate a clear understanding of the Cuban context, and demonstrate the capacity to deliver proposed programming in Cuba (ideally in cooperation with a Cuban partner/mentors/instructors, etc.) in a way that will strengthen private enterprise and build partnerships between citizens of the United States and Cuban citizens living in Cuba. Each proposed project should also include a media strategy designed to expand the project's impact beyond those who participated in the actual project. Finally, all proposals must include a plan for vetting potential program participants to ensure grant funds are not used to support businesses or individuals with close ties to the Cuban government or Cuban Communist party. Priority Program Areas: This Notice of Funding Opportunity supports U.S. Embassy Havana's strategic objective of building a healthy private sector in Cuba that will grow the economy, provide access to needed goods and services, and encourage Cubans to stay in Cuba rather than seek to emigrate to the United States. Through a consultative process, the U.S. Embassy in Havana has determined that it will focus its resources on the following four areas: · Basic information for aspiring entrepreneurs about how to take an idea through the process of starting and running a small business. · More advanced information and networking opportunities, aimed at current small business owners, about how to grow their business, including through developing import/export ties with businesses in the United States, understanding OFAC regulations, inclusion in the workplace, etc. · Information about how to grow a business, aimed at more established medium-sized business owners, including specific training and development for CEOs, line managers, HR professionals, etc., that will allow companies to grow to the next level. · Sector-specific mentoring and networking opportunities that connect Cuban businesses with experienced Americans who have similar kinds of businesses and allow them to benefit from their experience and know-how. A wide range of projects related to these priority program areas will be considered, including, but not limited to, the following activities: · A Cuba-specific, monthly, or bi-monthly speaker series featuring American experts who provide information for beginning entrepreneurs as well as more specific and advanced consultations for entrepreneurs with more experience. · Networking events with visiting speakers that connect alumni of USG programs with alumni of other programs active on the island and allow Cuban entrepreneurs opportunities to share their experiences with colleagues and mentor those starting out. · A mentoring program that connects sector-specific American experts with Cubans working in the same sector. · Training for line managers to help companies grow beyond the company's founders. · Expanding the Cuban private sector's understanding of Human Resources and topics of workplace inclusion · Training for new entrepreneurs available online, adapted to and available free of charge for anyone living in Cuba. · Work to adapt and "Cubanize" existing Spanish-language online training for entrepreneurs, to include specific examples in the Cuban context and advice, tips, etc., from experienced Cuban entrepreneurs. · Coding bootcamps or other programs designed to encourage IT skills that are marketable to U.S. firms, especially programs that may connect successful participants to jobs that can do from Cuba. A “Shark Tank” style program that recruits a broad group of entrepreneurs, provides general training to all, then winnows the group, providing more focused training and mentorship at each stage until a small group of winners is awarded seed capital and additional mentoring.

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