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Atlas + Cuba

Patrick Collison on March 18, 2016

Since the 1960s, the U.S. has maintained a trade embargo with Cuba. Today, more than half a century later, many of these restrictions are gradually being lifted. At Stripe, we stand for increasing global commerce and enthusiastically support this action.

The embargo has many components, among the most significant being the Office of Foreign Asset Control’s restrictions on access to financial services by Cuban nationals. On Tuesday, these were some of the first restrictions to be relaxed by the White House. This removes one of the biggest impediments to Cubans participating in the global financial system.

It also removes one of the biggest barriers to entrepreneurship in Cuba. The restrictions on access to financial services have made it extremely tough for Cuban developers and founders to start new businesses or to work with U.S. investors or partners. Despite this, more than 70% of Cubans say that they’d like to start a business. In his upcoming historic trip—the first by a sitting U.S. president in 88 years—President Obama will meet Cuban entrepreneurs to learn "how we can help them start new ventures."

When the White House reached out to us about the role Stripe might play in this process, we jumped at the idea. As of today, Stripe Atlas will be available to entrepreneurs in one of the only countries it didn’t previously serve: Cuba.

Stripe Atlas is a new product for us—we announced it less than a month ago. It’s based on our belief that there exist individuals with the ability to be successful entrepreneurs everywhere and that the important tools for internet entrepreneurship should be available to everyone. With Atlas, we aim to offer best-in-class tools to founders no matter where they’re based—from Cambodia to (now) Cuba.

Thanks to Tuesday’s changes, we’ll be working as quickly as possible with our partners, including Silicon Valley Bank, to enable Cuban entrepreneurs to easily incorporate U.S. companies, set up U.S. bank accounts, and use Stripe to start accepting payments from customers around the world. There are more details in our guide about how it works.

Cuban entrepreneurs can apply for access immediately and we plan to send the first invitations soon. We’re also extending the Stripe Atlas network to Cuba and we’re delighted to start out by partnering with Merchise Startup Circle in Havana.

Since we announced Atlas, businesses from more than 185 countries have already applied for access. We’re excited to make that 186.

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