NC businessmen start first company in Cuba since revolution
Posted March 21, 2016
HAVANA — During a historic meeting, President Barack Obama and Raul Castro discussed a wide range of topics Monday, including travel restrictions, business and trade.
Part of the conversation included Horace Clemmons and Saul Berenthal, two North Carolina business leaders who started a business in Cuba.
"We left IBM and Horance and I started our own business in Raleigh," Berenthal said.
In June 2014, the two men submitted a proposal to the Cuban government to manufacture tractors for construction and farming with the people of Cuba.
"The government said 'We studied your proposal, and in our opinion everything you're asking for is already acceptable and covered under the premises under the new regulations,'" Berenthal said.
Three weeks ago, their company became the first U.S. company on the island since the Cuban revolution.
"Having been the first company that has been authorized to do business in Cuba is a good thing from a business prospective," Berenthal said.
But for the two men, and for many, this is more than business.
"We had one young man that said he had built a product for the forgotten people," Clemmons said.
On Tuesday, Obama is expected to meet with dissidents and human rights activists. He is also expected to speak directly with the Cuban people.