Outsourcing Software Development to Cuba: An Ideal Nearshore Destination

August 24, 2022
Reх Huхford
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More companies are outsourcing software development to Cuba as it is an optimal nearshoring destination. Read on to learn the benefits of hiring Cuban software developers.
Outsourcing Software Development to Cuba: An Ideal Nearshore Destination

As many entrepreneurs already know, U.S.-based computer programmers demand high hourly rates and annual salaries. This is particularly the case if you're hiring developers from major U.S. cities, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City.

To cut costs, many companies have started to hire software developers from other countries. The most popular choices include Ukraine, India, and Latin American countries such as Cuba, Chile, and Argentina.

Cuba is one of the most popular choices for several reasons. It's in the same time zone as eastern U.S. cities like New York City, Boston, and Miami, and it has a workforce with high English proficiency. Cuba also has an untapped tech talent market, so you'll have a much easier time locating the talent you want.

Read to learn why you should consider nearshoring software development to Cuba.

Benefits of Nearshoring Software Development to Cuba

Hiring Cuban software developers offers many advantages:

Same Time Zone as U.S. Eastern Time

Cuba is located in the same time zone as U.S. Eastern Standard Time. This means you can work with your Cuban colleagues in real-time if you use Eastern Standard Time or if you're in an Eastern Standard Time-adjacent zone. This will make answering emails, collaborating on projects, and setting up Zoom conferences much easier.

High English Proficiency

Cuba 3rd in english proficiency for latin america

Most Cubans' first language is Spanish. However, many Cubans — particularly younger generations — are proficient in English. According to the EF English Proficiency Index, Cuba ranked third in Latin America and 43rd globally in 2021.

While English wasn't a popular language to learn in the 1980s, Cubans have taken more interest in learning and speaking English in the past decade, especially in larger cities like Havana. Research published as recently as 2018 indicates that Cubans are increasingly using English as a lingua franca in scientific publications, teaching, and university course materials. This is because many young Cubans view English as a way to get higher-paying jobs in English-speaking countries like the U.S.

Geographic Proximity to the U.S.

Cuba is only an hour and 20-minute flight away from Miami. So if you need to meet up with your Cuban hires, you can just hop on a plane and visit them. This would be much harder to do if you hired programmers from countries that are further away, such as Argentina, Uruguay, or Chile.

Untapped Talent Market

Cuba is a less popular choice for offshoring software development. As such, it's less saturated, which means that fewer companies are competing for top Cuban talent. So when the time comes to hire developers from Cuba:

  • You won't have to spend much time looking for the best pick for your team
  • You'll have higher chances of hiring top-notch tech talent that you may not have found if you chose to hire from a more saturated market

Similar Culture

Due to its proximity to the U.S., Cuba has a culture and set of values that are similar to the US. This allows your Cuban colleagues to easily mesh with your current team, making onboarding, training, and working with them easier as well.

Cuba has many cultural similarities with southern and western states like Florida, California and Texas (though it's to a lesser extent with the latter two). Like these states, Cuba values English and Spanish language skills. Many Americans from these states can trace their heritage to Cuba and other Latin American countries.

Miami in particular has a vibrant Cuban-American community. As the Library of Congress puts it, Miami isn't just the capital of Cuban America — it's also a major capital of the Spanish-speaking world. Many Miami residents speak Spanish and even create movies and music for Spanish speakers around the world. South American and Caribbean nations also trade with Cuban-American businesses and banks.

Cost-Effective

Nearshoring software development to Cuba can help you cut costs. Cuba has a much lower cost of living than the U.S., so Cuban developers charge competitive prices for their services. The fact that Cuban developers are new to outsourcing also lowers the costs even more.

According to Salary Explorer, the average yearly salary of a Cuban web developer is 229,000 CUP or 9,563 USD. In contrast, the average annual salary of a New York City-based web developer is a whopping 77,557 USD.

This means that the cost of hiring New York City-based programmers is around eight times higher than the cost of hiring Cuban developers.

The Cost of Hiring Software Developers in Cuba

Average Yearly Salary Rates for Cuban Software Developers

According to Salary Explorer, the average yearly salary for Cuban software developers is 229,000 CUP or 9,563 USD.

This is far less expensive than hiring U.S.-based developers. Let's take a look at the annual salaries of U.S.-based developers from a number of cities:

US City

Annual Salary

San Francisco, CA

103,355 USD

New York City, NY

77,557 USD

Boston, MA

92,815 USD

Miami, FL

65,720 USD

Chicago, IL

73,248 USD

Washington, DC

87,312 USD

Average Salary Rates by Programming Language

Average monthly salary rates vary depending on the programming language. Here are some salaries for different programming languages from Salary Explorer:

  • C# Developer: 22,700 CUP (948 USD)
  • C++ Developer: 21,800 CUP (910 USD)
  • Java Developer: 23,500 CUP (981 USD)
  • Javascript Developer: 21,700 CUP (906 USD)
  • Perl Developer: 18,700 CUP (781 USD)
  • PHP Developer: 18,700 CUP (781 USD)
  • Python Developer: 21,300 CUP (890 USD)
  • Ruby Developer: 18,800 CUP (785 USD)

Average Hourly Rates To Outsource to Cuban Developers

The average hourly rate to outsource to Cuban developers is only 110 CUP, which is equivalent to 4.59 USD. In contrast, the average hourly rate for hiring U.S.-based developers can range anywhere from $37 to $100 depending on location and experience.

Disadvantages of Outsourcing Software Development to Cuba

Despite the many positives of hiring Cuban web developers to work on your projects, outsourcing software development to Cuba also comes with several disadvantages.

Challenge for Foreign Companies to Reach Local Talent

It's difficult for foreign companies to reach out to Cuban tech talent. Most local sites and job boards are in Spanish, so you might find it quite difficult to create job ads if you lack the proper Spanish skills.

You can try to source talent through universities and dev shops, but that could take a lot of time and energy since they don't always have refined talent. You may be able to find a lot of raw, untrained talent, but you would have to invest a lot of training to get the results you want.

Stigma Due to Historical Relations Between the U.S. and Cuba

Sixty years ago, President John F. Kennedy introduced Proclamation 3447, Embargo on All Trade with Cuba. This was meant to isolate Cuba and stop the spread of communism. It exists to this day. In fact, President Biden hasn't only refused to undo the actions imposed on Cuba by the Trump administration, but he's also gone back on his promise to restore diplomatic relations. Additionally, he's tightened restrictions and imposed new sanctions against Cuba.

As such, there's still a lot of baggage when it comes to U.S.-Cuba relations. The embargo makes it challenging — if not impossible — for companies to legally operate in both the U.S. and Cuba. So if you want to open an office branch in Cuba to hire local developers, you will have to overcome a lot of political and legal hurdles.

Complex Labor Laws and Compliance

When hiring Cuban remote computer programmers, you need to know how to navigate Cuba's complex labor laws.

There are some translated laws and summaries online, but information about Cuba's labor laws is relatively sparse. Accordingly, grasping the full context of Cuba's labor laws can be challenging, even if you're fully bilingual in English and Spanish. You should work with a Cuban attorney to make sure you're doing everything correctly.

If you're running a U.S.-based company, you should also hire a U.S. attorney to help you navigate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). This is because the government owns many businesses in Cuba. Before 2021, the only private businesses were very small-scale, such as restaurateurs operating cafes from their homes and couples selling soft drinks on street corners. Cubans are now allowed to start private businesses in most sectors, but due to COVID-19 and other economic pressures, it's unlikely that the business structure has changed much since 2021.

As such, U.S. business that wants to start commercial operations in Cuba will probably have to consider the FCPA since they probably will have to deal directly with the Cuban government. The FCPA applies to almost every transaction.

On a more positive note, Cuba has been implementing new reforms to give freelancers and self-employed workers more flexibility. The government is also considering authorizing the association of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises with tech workers and entrepreneurs in established firms. These changes will strengthen Cuba's future as a nearshoring location.

Revelo: Find, Hire, and Compliantly Onboard Cuban Developers

As you can see, outsourcing to Cuba can be trying, especially if you're new to outsourcing and don't have the time or resources to hire Cuban and American attorneys.

Luckily, you can avoid these issues by working with Revelo. As Latin America's biggest talent company, we make it easy for startups to hire and onboard Cuban developers. By creating an account with us, you'll get access to thousands of FAANG-calibre Latin American developers who have been tested and pre-screened for their tech and English-speaking skills. We'll also handle benefits, legal compliance, payroll, and other issues so that you can focus on hiring Cuban talent without having to work directly with the Cuban government.

Where To Source and Hire Cuban Software Engineers

There are many places you can source and hire Cuban software engineers. These include freelancer sites like Fiverr and Upwork, as well as talent marketplaces like Revelo.

Freelancer Sites

Fiverr

Fiverr is a large online marketplace for freelance jobs. One of the most famous freelance marketplaces on the net, Fiverr lets you hire freelancers from anywhere for your projects. You can find almost any service you want, from computer programming and Javascript development to voice acting and videography.

To get started, create an account for free and reach out to freelancers you want to hire. Unlike most other sites, Fiverr doesn't use a bid system. Instead, freelancers create gig posts. If you like their gig proposal, reach out to them and place an order.

Upwork

Upwork is another popular freelancing site. Like Fiverr, it connects millions of employers and freelancers and has myriads of freelancers who specialize in a multitude of different skills. If you're looking for a one-stop shop for your startup, this is a great place to start. With just a few clicks of your mouse, you can hire freelance programmers, web designers, writers, and more for your startup.

Unlike Fiverr, Upwork uses a bidding system where freelancers can assign any price for their services. After setting up a project, freelancers can bid on your project by giving you a fixed price for the whole project or an hourly rate. Although Upwork's bidding system can help you find a lot of great freelancers, it's also frustrating because you need to manually vet the freelancers to make sure you get what you deserve. Unfortunately, not every freelancer on Upwork is upfront about their skills and experience. Like Fiverr, Upwork doesn't pre-vet their freelancers, so there's no real way to find out if a freelancer is actually worth their salt until you start working with them.

Talent Marketplaces

Although freelancing sites like Fiverr and Upwork are chock-full of talent, they're not the most efficient way for sourcing and onboarding tech talent. Most of these sites don't vet their talent, so you may not end up with the programmer you want.

That's where talent marketplaces like Revelo come in. Unlike traditional freelance websites, talent marketplaces pre-vet their talent pools. This means you won't have to manually look through a stack of resumes yourself. All you have to do is submit an application, and these marketplaces will handpick the perfect match for your startup.

Revelo

Revelo is one of the best talent marketplaces on the internet. As the largest technology company in Latin America's human resources sector, Revelo connects companies with FAANG-calibre devs.

All of our software engineers have been pre-tested for their knowledge, experience, and English proficiency. We have programmers specializing in every language and tech stack, including:

  • MySQL
  • Node
  • React
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Python

We'll also help with the sourcing and onboarding processes. Instead of reaching out to candidates on sites like Fiverr and hoping for the best, we will hand-pick the best talent for your team. Just follow these steps to get started:

  1. Tell us what your startup is like, what kind of talent you want, and what goals you want to accomplish.
  2. We'll send you a list of programmers within three days.
  3. You can then interview the candidates.
  4. Pick the candidates you want to hire.
  5. Work with your new hires with a 14-day free trial. If you think that our talent isn't a good fit within these two weeks, it's on us. You don't have to pay a cent.
  6. If you want more developers, tell us and we'll help you scale your team.

Additionally, Revelo will help you take care of complex legal issues. We have ample experience dealing with Cuban labor laws, so we'll deal with any issues that arise during the hiring and onboarding process. We'll also provide the following benefits for your Cuban hires, including:

  • Benefits packages: These packages will help your Cuban freelancers feel like they're part of your in-person team. Our benefits focus on physical and mental health, as well as professional development. Your hires will always be ready to seize the day.
  • Community engagement perks: We provide perks such as community events and state-of-the-art offices to keep your Cuban programmers engaged and excited about their jobs. We also provide a community of like-minded peers to work with.

Key Takeaways

Only 90 miles away from the southern shores of Florida, Cuba is a natural choice for U.S. companies looking to cut costs. Here are the main reasons why you should hire Cuban software developers:

  1. Same time zone as U.S. Eastern Standard Time: Cuba is located in the same time zone as major Eastern Seaboard cities like Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston, Miami, and Philadelphia.
  2. High English proficiency: Cuba is ranked third in Latin America when it comes to English proficiency.
  3. Geographic proximity to the U.S.: Cuba is only an hour and 20-minute flight away from Miami. So if you need to visit your Cuban programmers, just jump on a flight and you'll be able to see them.
  4. Untapped talent market: Cuba is new to the world of nearshoring, so you won't face much competition from other companies.
  5. Similar culture: Cuban culture greatly resembles the culture of Miami and to a lesser extent Southern California and Texas.
  6. Cost-effective: Finally, Cuban programmers are cost-effective to hire. The average annual salary of a Cuban programmer is only 9,563 USD. In contrast, the average annual salary of US-based programmers ranges from 66,000 USD to over 100,000 USD.

Interested in hiring Cuban developers? Contact us at Revelo today.

Need to source and hire remote software developers? Get matched with vetted candidates within 3 days.

Reх Huхford

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