14ymedio, Havana, 24 December 2016 — Cuban Faces of 2016: At 16, Gilberto Valladares, known as Papito, began to work in hairdressing, self-taught. At the beginning of the nineties he worked as a hairdresser in the Habana Libre Hotel, but with the relaxations allowing Cubans to work for themselves, he decided to set up his own business in Old Havana’s Barrio Santo Angel.
Papito leads the ArteCorte project, popularly known as the Callejón de los Peluqueros, Hairdressers’ Alley, which involves several neighborhood entrepreneurs and promotes small-scale development. The owners of the private businesses devote a part of their earnings to improving the neighborhood and solving problems such as unemployment, the lack of recreational opportunities for children, and alcoholism.
In March of this year, Papito spoke with US President Barack Obama during the latter’s visit to Havana. In the Cuba-United States Business Forum, attended by business owners from both countries, the entrepreneur related his experience and said that the private sector is growing among Cubans, despite all the impediments and obstacles.