Payments platform Stripe announced on Friday (March 18) that, for the the first time, its Stripe Atlas service will be expanded to include Cuban entrepreneurs. The news comes alongside President Obama’s historic trip to Havana this week.
Stripe Atlas, which was launched by Stripe last month during the annual Mobile World Congress event, is a new product aimed at providing entrepreneurs around the world with access to the necessary “building blocks” for starting and growing a global Internet business.
“Today’s announcement and our work with President Obama here in Havana are about facilitating a smooth path for Cuban entrepreneurs into the modern global economy,” Stripe CEO Patrick Collison said in a statement. “The promise of the Internet is that geography should be largely irrelevant. But that is not yet true. Especially here in Cuba, people simply do not have access to the high-quality banking or payments infrastructure they need to join the Internet economy.”
Atlas gives entrepreneurs from around the world the ability to incorporate as a U.S. company, set up a U.S. bank account and accept payments with Stripe. It also allows access to basic services, like tax advice from PwC, legal advice from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and tools from Amazon (including $15,000 in AWS credit).
According to Stripe, the infrastructure needed to get an online business off the ground in Cuba is “nearly nonexistent,” with less than 4 percent of the country’s population online today. The company also said that the appropriate financial rails are not available that will allow transactions with markets outside of Cuba, but nearly 70 percent of Cubans surveyed aspire to start their own businesses.
“Stripe Atlas will now allow entrepreneurs to set up an online business and expand beyond Cuban borders to sell to customers anywhere in the world,” the statement continued.
Stripe will work with Merchise Startup Circle, a Havana-based startup community group, to identify entrepreneurs across Cuba who will benefit most from the services Atlas offers.
“There are lots of very good software developers, with very good ideas, inside Cuba. But, until now, there has been no way for people to put those ideas into practice, no way to create a company that investors could put money into,” Alex Medina, cofounder and director of Merchise Startup Circle, explained. “For the first time, Stripe Atlas will give people in our community a way to start their own business online and get paid for the things they create.”