Living and working in Cuba

May 09 | 2023

An interview with Victoria Chub of IWM Russia on the trials of starting and running a moving business in Cuba.

Dmitry, Vitaly, Victoria, Ivan of IMW Cuba 445x445So, what do you know about Cuba?  Cigars, Castro, old cars, some crisis with missiles in the 1960s, Che Guevara.  Cuba is known for many things, but international relocation is generally not one of them.  The communist regime there keeps its country, and its people, largely to itself.  There are not too many expat transfers to Cuba.  So why then, eight years ago, IWM, think it a good idea to start a moving company there?  Why indeed!

The thing is, IWM had tried to start a company in Cuba in 2000 but was refused permission by the Cuban officials for the most bizarre of reasons.  “We couldn't do it before because they considered us to be too young to do business in Cuba,” Victoria explained.  That, despite the fact that the company was already well established in Russia. “We came back 15 years later and one of my partners had grey hair and the other didn’t have any.  So that was OK.”

And Cuba really needed a moving company.  Back in 2015, there was no such thing.  There wasn’t much corporate work but there were plenty of diplomats moving.  At that time the administrative staff at the embassy would find boxes and the diplomat would do the packing and loading.  The port authorities would place and move the containers, organise the shipping and find someone to do the destination services.  “There were no full-service moving companies in the way we would understand,” explained Victoria.  It was the same with imports. “Our international partners encouraged us to start in Cuba because they had traffic going there and nobody to handle it.”    What’s more, the consignments were substantial.  Always FCL plus airfreight.  Often 40ft, sometimes two.  “People brought a lot of things with them for a three-year posting because they knew that there was nothing to buy in Cuba.”

So that’s why it was a good idea.  But why IWM? ...

Photo: Dmitry Ilin, Vitaly Nogai, Victoria Chub and Ivan Guzman Sardinaz.

Click here to read the full story in The Mover magazine.

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