Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bulk discounts for entrepreneurs

A sore point among Cuba’s entrepreneurs has long been supplies – their availability and cost, and the fact that the government has not created markets where they can buy at wholesale. With the new opening to entrepreneurship the government has changed its attitude and has promised to start providing supplies at wholesale – something that could have the added benefit of reducing pilferage of state resources and black market activity.

In Cuba recently, I was asking a pizza guy about supplies for his business, and he said there was some good news: a store where flour is now sold in bulk at discount. The store is a small installation called Los Laureles, on the top deck of the parking garage behind the Carlos III shopping center.

The retail price of flour in a regular store is 1.10 convertible pesos per kilogram; in Los Laureles it goes for 0.80 in bulk, scooped out of the bag in the quantity you want. If you buy the whole bag of 25 kilograms, it goes for 0.64 per kilogram – a 42 percent discount from retail. Beans, spices, powdered milk, and other bulk items are also sold.

There is more of this going on with other products such as tools, blank CD’s, and barber and beauty shop supplies, AP reports based on an article in Trabajadores newspaper.

Apart from the benefit to the pizza guy and others, this is one more sign of policies that are improving conditions for entrepreneurs. In this case, it’s also noteworthy that the government is changing its policy of applying a uniform and steep markup to imported retail goods.

The Trabajadores article concludes by saying that “this matter is not finished,” and the government is paying “permanent attention” to the task of assuring an “ever-greater presence of products in the national retail network for the benefit of non-state workers.”

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