Saving the Children of Costa Rica

Babson Professor Candida Brush, Case Director and Case Writer

Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship

© Babson College, 2009.


It was Sunday night in April, 2007, and Dr. Charles Gartrell was making his way slowly through the masses of people moving through immigration at Logan International Airport in Boston. Dr. Gartrell was returning from Costa Rica where he had just completed two weeks volunteering medical care and expertise through Orthopedics International. This was his 7th trip to Costa Rica. While he was relieved to be home, he still felt unsatisfied. The trip had been extremely productive as he and his fellow physician saw more than 300 patients, many from barrios in an area called the “Solidarity Triangle”. But, the innocent faces of the little children stuck in his mind because he knew that while their skin rashes and parasites were gone today, they would be back again in six months when he returned. He thought about his visit last November where he met Maria Conseco, and the other families touched by the serious illness of their children. But this trip was somewhat different. He had spent time collecting information and searching for ideas on ways to create a more permanent organization. He met with other physicians he knew at the Hospital de Ninos and Clinica Biblica, with members of the CAJA (Costa Rica’s social security system that provides medical insurance), and with nonprofits including Boy with a Ball and Mission Possible. As Charles moved slowly through the immigration line, he considered what steps he might take to learn more, who could help, and whether he had the right background to make it happen. He wondered, how could he make more of a difference in their lives? What would be the best way to have sustainable health care assistance and education? What should he do first to create a new initiative?

Teaching Objective: To examine the complex (wicked) social problem and its causes; To consider different business models for implementing solutions social problems; To explore stakeholder co-creation in social ventures; To explore metrics for social impact and effectiveness

Key Words: Social entrepreneurship, Social opportunity, Social problems, Costa Rica, Stakeholders, Business model creation, Enterprise creation, Health care and health education, Opportunity recognition


There is no DVD available for this case.

Teaching Notes

A 12-page teaching note written by Professor Candida Brush is available for this case.