Adeena Schlussel

Unreasonable Institute Finalists Emerge

Last year, the Unreasonable Institute – an intensive six-week mentorship program that seeks to accelerate budding ventures serving the low income and often base of the pyramid consumers – fielded applications from 300 entrepreneurs who hoped to attend. The high volume of applications is because in addition to mentoring, attendees receive prime networking opportunities, as well as a chance to mingle with likely investors. Also, it’s all free. Sort of.

Tuition for the Unreasonable Institute totals $8,000, however applicants don’t foot the bill. Instead, applicants are required to raise the funds from scrutinizing donors who visit the Unreasonable Marketplace (where the finalists are profiled) and vote with their dollars. Some would say that winning a spot in the Unreasonable Institute is a first entrepreneurial exam for the applicants, testing if they have the creativity and aptitude to rally support for their mission. The reasoning is that the strongest ideas will win, based on the insight of hundreds of thousands of scrutinizing micro-donors over the course of 50 days.

Teju Ravilochan, Teju Ravilochan, one of the Unreasonable co-founders, said this year, the institute “upped the ante” for its applicants.

“We required them to have full-time teams, prototypes or pilots, and ideally at least $1 in revenue,” Teju wrote in an email to NextBillion. “And the caliber of applicants was truly world-class, with most applicants having market validation for their work and extensive interaction with their customers. Because their quality was so high, we had to consult experts, review applications four times, and debate for hours over which candidates to advance to the Finalist round. And from there, they dazzled us, raising in over $260,000 in 36 days from nearly 4,000 supporters in 60 countries. The candidates that successfully raised $8,000 have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that they deserve seats at the Unreasonable Institute.”

However, the real work lies farther down the line; the entrepreneurs privy to an Unreasonable education will later face a much less predictable set of obstacles as they continue to try to fill formidable voids at the BoP. At least they will be armed with an education, perhaps funding, and most importantly, the support of tens of thousands of supporters who believe they can do it.

Keep an eye on the following finalists who, according to the many voters who elected them, have great accomplishments to come. The finalists are grouped by the challenges that they seek to cause.


First Power
One Earth Designs
Eco Fuel Africa Limited
Cycle Chalao
Worms 4 Change
One Degree Solar
Green Channel
NICE International
Use Solar, Save Lives

Social Challenges:

Afroes Transformational Games
Terra Shift

Access to finance and markets:

Prosperitas Microfinanzas
Arohona Dairy Pvt. Ltd.
CARMa Venutre Services

Nutrition and Agriculture:

Malo Traders LLC


DayOne Response, Inc


BioSense Technologies

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Base of the Pyramid, incubators