Andy Alonso Pearson

John C. Ickis


INCAE Business School Costa Rica

Published in


TeenSmart is an organization that offers information, counsel and online courses to young people ages ten to 24, mainly in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, on how to prevent the top six risky health behaviors: tobacco use, violence or accidental injuries, risky sexual practices, alcohol and drug use, poor nutritional habits and obesity, and lack of physical exercise. Founded in 2004 by Dr. Catherine (Cathy) S. Lindenberg, whose missionary grandparents created the first private hospital in Costa Rica, in recent years, the organization had received several awards for the impact of its work. However, at present, TeenSmart stood at the crossroads of whether to consolidate itself in the Central American region with its current service model or to rapidly expand into Latin America and beyond. Views varied among board members and it was up to Adriana Gómez, general director since 2015, to implement the decision, whatever it might be. Obstacles to expansion were huge. TeenSmart did not charge for its services and largely depended on donations from Cathy’s family contacts and friends. The technological platform, designed to be used with its own text and audio applications in school computer labs, did not easily adapt to new content for use in smartphones. Some board members questioned the “scalability” of TeenSmart’s existing model, based on promoters who sought alliances with schools and volunteers who provided online personalized advice to youngsters. Other members held that instead of serving such a reduced population, TeenSmart should form global alliances with technology companies that shared its mission and values.