Wednesday, February 23, 2011

You Too Can Be Unreasonable

By: Aunnie Patton

I have a great idea. I think you should be completely unreasonable today. What if, on top of all the ways you touch others lives today, you help provide solar power solutions to Indian villagers? How about teaching Pakistani girls to become entrepreneurs? Funding a low-cost housing model that can be transported in a crate to rural villages?

These ideas are a reality because Onergy, BLISS and WolrdHaus are all social businesses (see What is Social Entrepreneurship tab). Social businesses tackle global and local challenges by creating innovative, self-sustaining solutions. The idea is to create a product or service that is both attractive to and fills a need by consumers at the bottom of the pyramid (the poor) and then price this product or service at a level that is affordable enough to facilitate this demand and cover the cost of production and distribution (econ 101: supply and demand!).

Like all start-ups, these companies need seed capital to research, create, distribute and market their products. There are many ways for these companies to get this funding and the Unreasonable Institute is a really cool one! It's basically a competition where finalists need to raise $8,000 in order to have the chance to attend the Unreasonable Institute in Colorado to pitch their idea to hundreds of investors. Thus, by voting with your dollars (i.e. donating) to the causes that you like, you are giving these entrepreneurs the chance to attract seed capital to fund their self-sustaining businesses.

Remember, these companies aren't charities! Each of these entrepreneurs is trying to create a company that self-sufficiently meets a desperate need (energy in rural villages, the opportunity for women to attend school and still support their families, affordable, sustainable houses) and this donation will hopefully propel the company forward to attract equity capital from social investors. Like other start-ups, after they receive this capital the company's growth will be funded through its revenues. How COOL is that? I think it's pretty much the most inspiring, amazing thing in the world. (can you tell I'm obsessed with the industry I'm in??).

I've met most of the entrepreneurs listed below and think their ideas are fantastic. I encourage you to vote with even a few dollars. Trust me, they'll appreciate it and you'll get to follow them on their path to changing the lives of the bottom of the pyramid. Win-win. :)

And an added bonus: hopefully you understand a little more about the types of businesses I work with here in Bangalore. Please, ask me questions if you have any!

Published on behalf of: Aunnie Patton as taken from Aunnie Patton Blogspot.

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