WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM | Long before the likes of Airbnb, Cuba was living the sharing economy

Cuba is a country of contradictions: doctors who teach dance classes, engineers who drive taxis, and teachers who farm tobacco. Some of these contradictions make sense given the economic embargo which has forced Cuba — and many Cubans — to become incredibly resourceful to meet their daily needs. This superficial explanation belies deeper insights, however — insights that may apply, and help, many cities worldwide.

I visited Cuba this spring and experienced these contradictions first-hand. The primary purpose of my trip was to speak at Applied Brilliance, a multi-disciplinary conference whose theme of "Resilience & Revival” could not have been more timely. I was asked to explain the global sharing economy. Little did I know that the Cuban sharing economy would steal the show.