Granma reports today that 75,061 Cubans have received licenses to join the entrepreneurial sector since late October.
That boosts the sector’s size by 50 percent, and by my count puts it at its largest size since its peak of 209,000 in 1996. An additional 8,342 have their paperwork moving through the system, the paper reports.
With layoffs starting in earnest, the sector seems poised to continue growing in large numbers.
Of the new licensees, according to the article, 68 percent were not employed, which may indicate that many are coming in from the black market. Sixteen percent are retirees. Sixteen percent are getting licenses as employees of other entrepreneurs, which shows that the sector is moving from one-person “self-employment” to microenterprises. Twenty-two percent are in the food sector; if they do well, their success will spell savings for the government, enabling it to close its food service operations and the distribution systems and bureaucracy that go along with them. Three percent are renting out space in their homes; the article doesn’t specify how many are renting lodging and how many are renting space for other entrepreneurs’ business premises.