Cuba has ‘Enormous Potential’ for Social Economy

Cuba has ‘Enormous Potential’ for Social Economy

Eric Leenson says country has enormous potential to demonstrate what’s possible for sustainable development

An island country with a highly-educated public, universal health care and a strong sense of social equity may be the perfect place to pioneer the world’s first inclusive and socially-responsible economy.

That’s the vision of Eric Leenson, founder of Sol Economics and Social Venture Network member, who is working with a consortium of people and organizations to advance socially responsible enterprise and local development in Cuba.

Eric says Cuba's leadership is open to the potential, which is in line with the political and economic reforms taking place under the helm of President Raúl Castro. The country is witnessing sweeping economic changes that will allow many Cubans to engage in private enterprise to an extent not seen since the 1960s.

As a result of economic reforms, Eric says Cuba is facing a critical moment, a time in the island’s history where it can avoid the pitfalls of other transitioning communist countries and sow the seeds for social enterprise to take root and flourish in years to come.

         Eric Leenson

“In the big scheme of things, I think that Cuba has enormous potential,” says Eric, adding it even helps that the country is an island.

“Cuba has the possibility of becoming an amazing experiment of scaling up this idea of a social solidarity economy in a way that we don’t have in other places.”

Eric is playing a critical role in seeing this come to fruition, helping organize a consortium of Cuban and international organizations discussing the potential for Cuba creating socially-responsible enterprise, which includes co-operatives, social enterprise and corporate social responsibility initiatives on the part of foreign investors.

He says many of the participating organizations are from Latin America and Brazil, which is leading the way in terms of creating economies that use enterprise to produce social and environmental outcomes.

In the process of a year, the group, which includes AVINA Foundation, Dalhousie University, and the Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy has successfully helped organize meetings with Latin American leaders in the field, co-sponsored visits of a Cuban delegation to Brazil, and convened a broad cross-section of Cuban and international actors for a historic conference in Havana called the First International Conference on Socially Responsible Enterprise, Co-operativism and Local Development in June 2011.

Eric says the events are translating into actionable plans by influential actors on the island, including the creation of a multi-institutional Cuban working group and plans to hold follow-up events in 2012.

“I am very pleased with the possibility,” says Eric.

To learn more about socially responsible enterprise and local development in Cuba, click here.

Please leave your comments below, or e-mail camille(at)

A version of this article appeared at, as part of its Stakeholder News program. Click here to view this article's original post.

Writer Bio

Camille Jensen's picture
Camille Jensen

Camille Jensen is an employee share ownership consultant with ESOP Builders, Canada’s largest provider of employee share ownership plans (ESOPs) for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Prior to joining ESOP Builders, Camille was a generative journalist and team member at Axiom News. She credits her time at Axiom as fundamental to her understanding that business is one of the best opportunities to make a difference in the world.

Camille is a B.C. Partner for Social Impact and volunteer with Okanagan Changemakers.

Reprint This Story

Axiom News content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Stories may be reprinted in their entirety with permission and when appropriately credited.

Please contact Axiom News at
1-800-294-0051 for more information.