I’ve been following the Unreasonable Institute for two years or so. It’s a constant source of inspiration for me as I see them as the pulse for social enterprise around the world. They have this program where budding social entrepreneurs working to solve big social problems from around the world apply to be part of a six-week long incubator program in Boulder, CO. They get hooked up with all kinds of mentors who help with business models and introductions and figuring out how they can scale the impact of of their already profitable world-changing businesses. The end of the incubator session culminates into the Unreasonable Climax where each entrepreneur presents their solutions on a stage in front of an audience of 1000 people including impact investors, social entrepreneurs and people who think defining progress is rad. The Unreasonable Institute has grown over the years and they’re now expanding to other countries, starting other companies and it’s all centered around social change and doing good in the world, especially if it’s unreasonable.
All of the presentations were excellent, each business was very real and already had stellar results to show for their efforts. They were here on the main stage vying for capital to help them scale their solutions to millions of people. Each entrepreneur presented real working solutions for serious social problems and I’m glad I live in a world where this is happening. Hearing from companies like Sudiksha who is training entrepreneurial women to set up and run pre-schools throughout villages in India or Agrilab Technologies who is harnessing heat from compost piles and making it productive reinforces my belief that our world is headed in the right direction. We’ve got solutions and continue to get more clever about how to solve tough problems, things are going to get better and we are living on a tipping point.
The most impressionable of them all though was a hometown hero Roberto Rivera who created The Good Life Organization. Roberto is from the hood in Chicago and he grew up involved with gangs, dealing dope and got out of drug rehab at the tender age of thirteen. The world labeled him as “at risk” which is code for “good for nothing, don’t waste your time trying to help.” Roberto didn’t see it this way though and he took his life into his own hands, he used all of his challenges and setbacks to fuel his way to creatively being someone that mattered in the world. He used to be the exact problem he is solving and he’s solving it in a big way that really works. The Good Life Organization runs workshops and had all sorts of empowerment curriculum that gives “at risk” youth a chance to make it in our crazy world and escape the vicious cycles that consume them, and they do it maintaining economic self sufficiency. Roberto is a hope dealer.
This is just one example of someone standing up against the grain and deciding to fix something. There are many unreasonable people out there solving problems and making the world a better place. This is hard work. As Teju said, we need to protect their courage so these people can keep going out there and making progress. We also need to get involved, we can’t continue to just be spectators, the world can’t afford it.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man [and woman].” -George Bernard Shaw