Terry and Marion Tateossian of Socialfix Media Join LWE for a Cultural Networking Trip to Havana
NEW YORK, NY, January 23, 2018 /24-7PressRelease/ — Female entrepreneurs in Cuba are thriving and Socialfix Media, a NJ/NY digital marketing agency, recently took the opportunity with Leading Women Entrepreneurs (LWE) to meet Cuban entrepreneurs and discuss the challenges and opportunities of owning a business across international lines.
Until recently, entrepreneurship in Cuba has been a rarity, which makes the LWE trip to Havana especially significant. It has been 60 years since a group of entrepreneurs visited Havana to meet with local business owners. Political and economic embargoes have been in place, until recently, forbidding the US and Cuba to form connections–like those formed at the LWE retreat this year.
The trip was facilitated by LWE, a New Jersey based network of female business owners that creates a sustainable, ongoing environment to bring leaders together. The organization mobilizes these women business owners to showcase attributes and contributions in their respective industries. LWE hosts an annual retreat that seeks to engage, connect, and inspire LWE honorees and members. This year, the annual retreat set sails to Havana, Cuba, where the women attending sought to build cross-cultural bridges of understanding and collaboration.
In attendance from this year’s trip was Karolina Dehnhard (Counsel, Budd Larner), Linda Gardner (President/CEO, Brent Material Company), Caroline Gosselin (Listing Specialist, Gosselin & Greene, LLC), Theresa Lyons (Founding & Managing Partner, Lyons & Associates, P.C), Sharon Mahn (Founder/CEO, Mahn Consulting, LLC), Micheline Nader (Author, Jesra Impact), Jessica Nelson (Real Estate Agent, Liberty Realty), Joan Poole (retired CPA), Mimi Feliciano (FEM Real Estate, LLC), Theodora Sergiou (President, Nicholas Pools, Inc), Gale Spak (Associate VP of Continuing Professional Education, NJIT), Marion Tateossian (Director of Accounts, Socialfix Media), Terry Tateossian (Founder, Socialfix Media), Linda Tamm (Co-Owner, Strides in Psychotherapy), Linda Wellbrock (Founder of LWE), Gail Whiting (Owner, Design Consultants), and Alex Zetlin (Founder/President, Zetlin Strategic Communications).
Terry Tateossian, the Founder of Socialfix Media and 2017 Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneur honoree, had a unique take away from the trip. As a female entrepreneur herself, Tateossian sees the importance of traveling to new areas to challenge the norms of what business owners experience in the States–by opening up to learning from new cultures, it can provide insight on how to grow your business locally.
“Sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone to challenge what you see as ‘normal,'” Tateossian expressed. “When you exit your comfort zone, you start to see what you once considered to be barriers as new opportunities. Networking is extremely beneficial, especially at the international level.”
Visiting Havana offered a window into the lives of female entrepreneurs in Cuba, who are flourishing in the capital city. In Cuba, women in professional careers outnumber men, 2:1 and hold more positions in government than their male counterparts. In addition to the majority of women that participate in government, Cuba is considered to be a matriarchal society that extends beyond the political sphere. Within the home and community, women are usually in charge. These types of social and political environments contribute to the ever growing amount of female entrepreneurs in the region, where the social privilege of women is equal to that of men.
However, economic opportunities for private business owners were not always the norm. Dating back to the reign of Fidel Castro, and even earlier, Cuba was predominantly a single-crop economy. Sugar being the main crop export of the country.
Eventually the one crop economy failed the country, and in an effort to reinvigorate the country’s economy, several initiatives were put in place. Meanwhile, there was an income tax imposed on self-employed Cubans. During this time in history there was little economic incentive for citizens to become entrepreneurs.
Present day Cuba looks very different from its historical roots. Under Raul Castro’s current administration, the government has been seeking out ways to remedy the economic structural distortion. There have been several incentives put in place for non-state employment, such as banks being allowed a new credit policy for finance entrepreneurs. Though some nationalized companies remain, most are utility providers such as water and power suppliers.
While the LWE members were in Havana, they had the opportunity to talk to these women and discuss being an entrepreneur, the economic climate, and cultural differences. One of the key takeaways from the trip was that Cuban women undoubtedly feel empowered, and that there is a bright future for entrepreneurs, especially female entrepreneurs, in Cuba’s new economy.
Marion Tateossian, Director of Client Accounts for Socialfix Media, who joined Terry on the excursion, expressed that she had an enlightening experience. “There is so much change happening right now in Cuba, that is directly affecting female entrepreneurs,” she said. “It’s inspiring, and I have a lot of hope that opportunities for women will only continue to get better.”
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