Building a business to help others

Filed Under: EARTH News
Date: April 30th, 2021

COVID-19 has forced everyone to adapt to unexpected conditions and grow toward resilience. Gabriela Centeno (’01, Costa Rica) saw the virtue in e-commerce and was inspired to use it to help communities in need.

Gabriela with her kids

Gabriela’s past has prepared her to support others through business. After graduating from EARTH University and working in Costa Rica, she relocated to Germany to pursue a master’s degree in agribusiness. Since then, Europe has been her home. She is a wife and mother, a consultant, and an entrepreneur. Now living in Ireland, she has endeavored to foster fairness and prosperity for all involved in the supply chains that bridge the Latin American and European continents.

Soon after the pandemic began, Gabriela was conversing with a friend who described the plight of artisans of Punta Islita Community, Costa Rica. Their livelihoods – largely based on selling handicrafts to tourists – suffered as borders were sealed and travel plans were stalled. This stark reality drove Gabriela to create Boutique Exotics, an online shop for Europeans to purchase the artisan products made by communities like Punta Islita.

Indigenous handicrafts

“In Ireland, we have been under strict quarantine for a whole year, so virtual business has been working very well,” Gabriela says. “I am interested in telling the story of each product, showing what is behind it. This project enables me to offer tropical, products for the Latinx community while creating a connection with companies that promote sustainability, the use of biodegradable materials, and the highest quality.”

Through Exotics, Gabriela has simultaneously opened an avenue for less privileged Latin American entrepreneurs to enter new transoceanic markets, as well as an opportunity for people living in Europe to consume ethical, environmentally responsible products – goods that carry within them the unique stories of a person, a family, or a community.

To learn more about Gabriela’s business, please visit For every €1 invested in Exotics, 1% goes to support the incredible efforts of Verdiazul and EARTH University.

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