Have Consultants Become Tour Guides Rather Than Business Guides?
Does this sound familiar: Visits to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Chamber of Commerce, Port of Mariel, and United States Embassy?
This is the most frequent itinerary that a proliferation of consultants has followed for their clients when visiting the Republic of Cuba.
An increasing number of individuals who are or have engaged in Republic of Cuba-related political advocacy (as sole proprietors, lobbyists, employees of not-for-profits, affiliated with educational institutions, etc.) or as professional researchers (for not-for-profit entities) have departed those venues to reinvent themselves as “Cuba consultants,” eager, for a price, to be engaged by individuals and entities that wish to visit the Republic of Cuba to identify commercial opportunities.
Some of the them are enticed by the knowledge that two United States governors spent US$25,000.00 in their respective taxpayer funds to pay a "Cuba Country Expert" at a not-for-profit organization when all of the expertise (and logistical support) was available at no cost through the government of the Republic of Cuba, Republic of Cuba government-operated entities, and other entities (for profit and not-for-profit).
The challenge for some of the newly-minted self-proclaimed Cuba consultants is they have no knowledge or have limited knowledge of the private sector and for many their ability to function within the Republic of Cuba is solely based upon having been a political advocate- so they need to maintain positive working relationships with their Republic of Cuba hosts which may diverge from the interests of their clients- who are generally visiting the Republic of Cuba once.
Their relationships are often hostage to having never disagreed with, had to negotiate with, had to confront, made a public comment, prevailed in a decision that was disagreed with by the government of the Republic of Cuba.
These individuals have become tour guides; repeatedly introducing clients to the same representatives of the government of the Republic of Cuba with clients gaining questionable value.
Of value to remember that the government of the Republic of Cuba is not supportive of consultants- as it prefers a straight line between it and a company rather than a triangle created by the insertion of a third-party. That’s what the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba, with a Commercial Counsellor, located in Washington, DC, is officially designated to do for United States-based companies.
Of value to remember the tangible commercial results from the visits to the Republic of Cuba of more than four hundred representatives from United States companies, four United States governors, seventeen United States Senators, and thirty-three members of the United States House of Representatives who visited the Republic of Cuba in 2015 and thus far in 2016.