A Chinese wholesale website offers to supply Cuban ‘MSMEs’

A Chinese wholesale website offers to supply Cuban 'MSMEs'

A labyrinth of obstacles, verifications and absences makes it difficult to buy on the digital platform nihao 53, an instrument with which the Chinese conglomerate Leke Holding Group wants to consolidate its presence in Cuba. With the intention of supplying the wholesale market on the Island, the page offers food, furniture, construction materials, and countless items to micro, small, and medium-sized businesses. (MSMEs), but it is frequent that the products are not available or that, if they are for sale, they have to be purchased in disparate quantities in euros or dollars.

The obstacles, which also affect the buyer who accesses the site abroad, leave little doubt as to who can access Nihao 53’s services: “entrepreneurial” Cubans within the country, with accounts in foreign banks and the ability to collect orders in a warehouse reserved by the Leke group.

Their clients, summed up their managers in a recent report dedicated to him by the Sputnik agency, seek “access to raw materials that were almost impossible or very difficult to reach” in the economic context of the Island.

The platform is described as “an essential connection” between Cuban businessmen and the international market

The platform is described as “an essential connection” between Cuban businessmen and the international market. Its general manager in Havana, Yeline Ramos, explained then that Nihao 53 worked by sales categories, ranging from “machinery and products from the automotive industry” to “construction, raw materials, cleaning products and a gastronomic line.”

They have, he said, everything to gain. The support of the Cuban Government, its excellent relations with China and having started operating on a date that bodes well for them: at 11:00 in the morning on November 11, 2022. As for the name, it responds to the greeting “hello ” in Mandarin Chinese –ni hao– and the Cuban telephone code, 53.

Ramos explained to Sputnik that the company is looking to improve its distribution “strategy” for the next quarter. In addition to picking up the products at the warehouse, the owners of MSMEs they will be able to access Nihao 53 products in other provinces of the Island. It will be a way of alleviating the “quite undersupplied market” in the interior of the country.

The director of Business Development of Nihao 53, Mario Ríos Vidal, criticized as “insufficiently exploited” the sphere of possibilities that wholesale sales have on the Island. The coronavirus pandemic, he assured, was an incentive for China to decide to promote this modality market in Cuba.

“We analyzed the competition, what we could offer the Cuban market and what its fundamental needs are,” Ríos explained, although he did not describe what “competition” he was talking about in an economic context such as Cuba’s.

The most promising area so far, he said, has been what is known as “sublimation”: the service of customizing objects and garments with the brand that the client wishes.

The most promising area so far, he said, has been what is known as “sublimation”: the service of personalizing objects and garments with the brand that the client wishes. This is “a virgin sphere” on the island, in which Nihao 53 is being a pioneer, Ríos celebrated.

“We don’t just put the merchandise on the platform on-line; From the user’s acquisition, we follow up on their purchase, we intervene in the process and in the after-sales because we want to provide feedback and know their feelings, if they are satisfied, pleased, we meet their expectations or any problem identified to reinvent ourselves and improve,” he added.

One of the MSMEs Cuban women who systematically access the services of Nihao 53 is KeDetalles, a company that sells personalized gifts “using the sublimation technique.” “This alliance has been of vital importance,” its owners told Sputnik, as the Chinese portal “takes them by the hand” in the purchase process.

Another “pleased” company is Manualidades María, which also sells products under its “sublimated” brand. “Until now, there was no company that gave us the possibility of buying here, without the need to import, a very cumbersome process for our small business.”

However, Nihao 53 can congratulate itself for little more. Outside the category of small items and printing – the only well-stocked ones – the offer is poor. Although they promise “new lines” for the sale of chicken, sausage and flour, the least attractive thing about the platform is precisely the gastronomy.

Outside of the category of small items and printing -the only ones well stocked-, the offer is poor

Mostly canned goods, sweets and some foods are the only thing for sale. Plus, you have to buy them in bulk and at unreasonable prices: a pallet of juice boxes costs $1,166.

The company has joined the sale of the “star product” of the businesses that sell to Cuba and of the Creole MSMEs: beer. For 52 cents per can, a very competitive price, it offers the Belgian-made product, but, yes, you have to buy it per pallet at more than 1,200 dollars a set.

The most withering prices are those of construction supplies. A crate of transparent acrylic plates amounts to 3,700 dollars; 60 4-millimeter-thick glass plates cost more than $4,100, and the same amount, 6-millimeter thick, costs more than $5,500.

Other categories, such as machinery, textiles and furniture, are completely empty, while in the one that corresponds to cleaning or cleaning products, it is necessary to buy in excessive quantities if the client is not thinking of reselling.

Despite the low supply and low viability of the platform, Nihao 53 receives the client with an optimistic will: “Cuba dreams, undertakes and grows.”


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