They Are The Change: Unreasonable Institute Finalists Announced

The Unreasonable Institute, a growing social innovation incubator based in Boulder, Colorado, is gaining momentum in transforming social entrepreneurs from dreamers into doers.  Its 2010 unreasonable summer institute enabled 21 high potential social entrepreneurs to gain insights from mentors as well as to put together business plans.  Post-institute, 60% of these organizations secured the funding they were looking for!

For their 2011 unreasonable summer institute, the finalists include pretty impressive and inspiring social entrepreneurs who have decided to forego traditional careers to be the change they want to see.  But to attend the 2011 summer institute, these social entrepreneurs need our help.  Indeed, they now need our help to raise their tuition to attend the 2011 institute.   Consider 'giving them wings' by helping them gain visibility by sharing their stories with your friends, or by sponsoring them to attend the 2011 unreasonable summer institute to help them grow their social enterprise.

In total, there are 45 finalists, all offering inspiring ideas on how we can all build a better world.  Some of these ideas focus on education, low cost renewable energy solutions, transportation, and poverty alleviation through micro-enterprises.  Here are a few of the 2011 unreasonable institute summer finalists:

  • Mobius Motors - Founders of this organization designed 'low cost high function vehicles built specifically for the developing world'.  These cars and trucks are uniquely positioned to spur new transportation businesses across Africa.  Transportation is key to economic development, and currently many communities cannot scale their growth because of the lack of low cost transportation options they have to access their markets or the commodities they need to produce goods.  These uniquely designed vehicles has the potential to transform the transportation industry, which in turn could significantly alleviate poverty in Africa.
  • OneEarth Designs - Design and manufactures environmentally friendly products that decrease health issues in poor communities around the world.  Their portable and solar energy powered SolSource addresses the cooking and heating needs of many poor communities.  Switching to SolSource for poor communities is key to prevent many CO2 related health issues and pollution that currently occur as a result of their use of coal-based cooking and heating devices.  OneEarth started distributing SolSource in West China, and has received inquiries to distribute its products in Pakistan and Haiti.
  • Solidarium - Their goal is to alleviate poverty by connecting producers of goods in poor communities in Brazil with opportunities to produce goods that are then distributed through major retailers (e.g. Walmart, Lojas Renner - JC Penney).  Hard working poor producers are unable to break the vicious circle of poverty on their own.  Having the opportunity to produce goods that are sold in big name retailers helps them scale their operations and increase their margins, leading to more income and poverty alleviation for some of the 39 million Brazilians that live on less than $2 a day.
  • Boond - By creating a network of micro-enterprises in rural India, Boond is aiming at closing the 'access' gap existing lighting, clean water & pest control products and the consumers and communities that need them most.  They will create local distribution centers and agents that will sell these much needed products on credit.  The agents will earn a small commission through peer-to-peer sales.
  • Malo Traders LLC - This organization aims at building a rice mill and packaging facility in Ségou (Mali).  This rice mill and packaging facility will lead to produce local fortified rice that can be distributed throughout the country.  This locally produced rice could significantly lower the need for imported rice.  Importantly, this rice mill will inspire young Malians to become rice growers, and lead to economic growth for the region and the country.  Most importantly, through this mill, poor communities in Mali could switch from the non-fortified rice they currently consumer to fortified rice.  Better nutrition of course leads to higher health outcomes, which in turn would increase school attendance, and potentially lead to stronger economic growth.
  • BLISS - By paying parents to keep their girls in school, BLISS found a creative way to directly battle the opportunity cost of education for girls.  While their parents receive money to have them attend school, girls learn business skills and get training to launch and manage community-owned social businesses. These businesses will fund the short-term schooling and boost earning potential in the long term.
  • Arohana Dairy Pvt. Ltd. - By forming a cooperative-inspired model for famers in Tamil Nadu (India), Arohana is creating hope across 14 villages.  Arohana is playing a critical role in empowering farmers to keep their farms instead of going to cities.  Arohana helps farmers learn how to increase milk production, facilitates self help groups for over 250 women, and is building the project for credit access through an established Microfinance Institute (MFI).

One cannot help to get excited and inspired by these ideas that get business done better all around the world!  For more information about the other finalists see the Unreasonable Institute website at or follow them on twitter via #givewings.

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