Cuba (MNN) — In 2010 Cuba relaxed restrictions allowing private individuals to open small businesses and farms. Since then, more than 200,000 small businesses have opened. Today, there are 370,000 entrepreneurs and their employees. FARMS International has been involved in that process, says Joe Richter.
"We're partnering with a group of churches to help them through project loans to help in agriculture and small business," he says.
Private enterprise was banned under Fidel Castro. His brother, Raul Castro, has gone through a bit of a transformation and realization. "For the country to survive, they need to have more private enterprise and private farming enterprises to actually survive and help their people to have a better life."
FARMS International provides small, no-interest loans to help establish small vegetable farms and piggery projects. "The requirement to get loans with this program: the believer has to agree to tithe back into the local church; this is what really helps with local evangelism and outreach."
While these people are desperately poor, Richter says they're doing more than tithing. "Yet, at the same time they're reaching out to those that are even less fortunate in the country than themselves." They're sending surplus crops to the destitute senior citizens, says Richter.
While the program has been successful, the demand is even greater. Your support can help expand the program. "Even though it's opening up little-by-little, it's a really a window of opportunity for Christians to get behind the believers there and to help them in this new time in Cuba."