HAVANA — Great technology companies are born in garages, of course, and that is where 31-year-old Bernardo Romero has launched his Cuban start-up, Ingenius.
And like Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in the 1930s, and Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in the 1970s, Romero doesn’t have Internet access, either.
“At least,” he said, “we have a garage.”
It is no small feat, by Cuban business standards. Romero also has five employees, a sign, printed advertising and a government license to operate his company — almost none of which was allowed by Communist authorities a few years ago.
What keeps Romero and other similarly aspiring entrepreneurs crippled is a near-total lack of Web access. Raúl Castro’s limited opening for private business has been good for Cubans in physical trades such as shoe repair and plumbing, but the country’s digital laborers are still largely disconnected.
When one of the engineers at Ingenius needs to upload work for a client, he travels by bus or bicycle to a cybercafe run by the state telecom monopoly, ETECSA, paying $5 an hour for mediocre WiFi. The converted garage, like most of Cuba, isn’t plugged in.