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The Struggling Cuban Entrepreneurs

ÖJavier Acosta, chef and owner of Parthenon restaurant, poses for a portrait in his restaurant in Havana, Cuba. Acosta sank more than $30,000 into Parthenon, a private restaurant catering to tourists and diplomats. These days, Acosta is expanding. "I haven't yet managed to recover my initial investment and the other money we've put into the place," the 40-year-old said. "But in two or three more years maybe I can." (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

The Struggling Cuban Entrepreneurs

Even in developed countries where entrepreneurs have access to capital, loans and a wide pool of paying customers, startups are risky ventures. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, about half of all new establishments in America close within five years, and two-thirds are gone within a decade. The failure rate of Cuban entrepreneurs followed by the Associated Press was 44 per cent in less than two years, and worse if one considers only those that relied primarily on Cuban customers.

The AP recently checked in with nine small business owners

whose fortunes it first reported on in 2011 as they set up shop amid

the excitement of President Raul Castroís surprising embrace of some

free enterprise. Their fates tell a story of divided fortunes.