A view from Costa Rica

A view from Costa Rica

Sindy Sevilla, Founder, SB Café Los Santos, Costa Rica

Sindy Sevilla is a coffee lover and successful entrepreneur who turned her passion for coffee into a business. She founded SB Café Los Santos in 2012 when she moved to Tarrazu, a rural area of Costa Rica. “I wanted to turn my passion into a living and make an impact by empowering local people, especially women,” explains Sindy. Positive social impact is at the heart of Sindy’s business. “Most coffee is exported as green beans. We don’t sell that because we believe it is important for Costa Rica to handle most of the transformation that adds value. We want to keep the profits in the community.”

One of the most important factors for Sindy in being able to trade internationally was having access to all the information she needed including the clear rules and regulations she needs to comply with. When this type of information is not clear, it has a disproportionate impact on SMEs who often don’t have the human resources to deal with time-consuming processes. “This can discourage small entrepreneurs from exporting,” explains Sindy.

In 2016, she started exporting roasted coffee for the first time, using an e-commerce platform. For now, her business only exports to the US. “Unfortunately, the pathway to exporting is challenging for small businesses. I was lucky to have access to a training course on selling on Amazon offered by the Export Promotion Agency of Costa Rica, and US import requirements are relatively clear and straight-forward, but not all markets will be so easy to navigate.”

Trade facilitation reforms that reduce the administrative burden on Sindy’s business can help her reduce trade costs, offer better deals to her customers and fulfil her mission of delivering quality products to coffee lovers around the world. “I would like to grow my business through trade,” says Sindy. She wishes to see programmes that will make it easier for Costa Rican businesses to export, for example, preferential treatment for trusted local traders. “I hope our government will continue to help us, remove barriers to trade, and strengthen transport efficiency.”

For Sindy, economic and social prosperity must go hand in hand. “We need to support our entrepreneurs to trade,” she says. She also works to transfer her trade knowledge to other female entrepreneurs. “If women can export and have control over economic resources, the wealth will spread more equally,” she explains. Her dream is to see a stronger and more prosperous Costa Rica. “It’s important to create new jobs and encourage economic growth. This will, in turn, discourage emigration, create opportunities at home, and keep communities together.”