A Dream is Born!
Somewhere around May 2012, a friend of mine drove across Havana to drop off a sack of books. “They’re good, not great. I don’t have room for them.” Who has room in their life for good, not great, books? Neither me, nor my friend apparently. But as I looked at that yellow bag of books month after month, an idea began to brew: what if Havana had an English-language bookstore and coffeehouse where Cubans and visitors of all types could sit in a hammock with a classic book, sip a delicious cappuccino and make new friends?
And so Cuba Libro was born. In 2013, we set out to build a community around great coffee, art and literature using ethical, sustainable business practices. We would be an oasis of green space and a safe space – zero tolerance for discrimination and 100% alcohol-free – with the best coffee at the best prices, the happiest work team, books galore and cool cultural events. Everyone told us it would fail.
Fast forward 10 years. We didn’t fail. On the contrary. As we near our 10-year anniversary, we are very proud to announce that Cuba Libro is now an official Proyecto de Desarrollo Local. Being a local development project means we can do much more with our donation and other community support programs, maximize our local impact, and continue to strengthen community más allá (farther afield). We have a lot of exciting initiatives underway and several in the pipeline. Please feel free to get in touch to learn more, schedule a group visit to Cuba Libro with our Dig Deeper Program or arrange a donation. You might also enjoy reading this update from March, 2023. We hope to see you on the corners of Calle 24 & 19 the next time you’re in town!
PDL Cuba Libro, a coffeehouse and English-language bookstore, is an ethically- and socially-responsible local development project dedicated to building, strengthening, and supporting the Plaza de la Revolución municipality in which it operates and similar communities around the island.
Through a variety of services, cultural activities, and literary- and educational-related initiatives accessible to Cubans and visitors regardless of age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or financial resources, PDL Cuba Libro serves as an example of socially-responsible business in Cuba’s evolving (and confounding) economy.
Sharing our experience and know-how, we help other entrepreneurs flourish while fulfilling social missions and commitments to the surrounding community – a critical component in Cuba’s current context if the country’s social justice achievements are to be retained and fortified moving forward.
PDL Cuba Libro is a coffeehouse and English-language bookstore providing a prototype of socially- and ethically-responsible business in Cuba’s emerging economy. Through free cultural programming, high-quality literature, outreach and a variety of services designed to improve the health and well-being of our community, we are helping strengthen the social safety net. As a local development project, we have a direct and targeted impact on the neighborhood and municipality where Cuba Libro is located.
Cuba Libro serves as a beacon of social entrepreneurship by supporting and building on Cuba’s social justice and humanistic achievements realized over the past 60+ years. With policies and practices based on a philosophy of accessibility, equity, equality, and good cheer, Cuba Libro aims to provide a model for socially-responsible business in Cuba, with a specific goal of helping others replicate this model.
Founding principles include:
By pooling resources, energy, and ideas, Cuba Libro sets the course forward to a better, brighter, and healthier future for the country and its people. Through teamwork exemplified and motivated by all sectors – individuals, public, private, local and international – we are confident we can help build a stronger, more resilient society.