On an otherwise reasonable evening in July, over 600 people packed an auditorium in Boulder, Colorado, for the culmination of the 2015 Unreasonable Institute. They came to watch 12 ventures take the stage and present their solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges.

The entrepreneur in this video is John Roberts of Open University of West Africa.

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What urgent need do you address?

Access to the mobile, digital age enables us to learn essentially anything, anywhere. Tweet This Quote

In West Africa, one of the biggest gaps in the development market is access to higher education. In fact, there is a very real correlation between access to higher education and GDP growth. Quality higher education is often unevenly distributed, scarce, or too expensive. However, access to the mobile, digital age enables us to learn essentially anything, anywhere. A new type of university would emerge if we brought online lectures like those on iTunes U to West African students—this is the purpose of Open University of West Africa (OUWA).

What solution do you propose?

The mission of OUWA is to financially empower West Africans through education, incubation, and investment. By utilizing an entrepreneurship curriculum packaged into pay as you go smart phones, we believe we can help everyone from Liberian refugees to single moms in Malian villages to young men and women in Ghana who didn’t get into university. OUWA provides access to free and low-cost online classes, or “MOOCs.” Once students complete their courses, they can pay a small fee to join Impact Hub Accra to work on their business models. Once these entrepreneurs achieve proof of concept, they have the opportunity to raise seed funding through our partnerships. We’ve developed curriculum that is contextually appropriate, helping hundreds of students over the past three years. Now, we are in the process of animating and dubbing it in local languages. We believe we know how to reach scale, and it’s in rural communities.

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The Unreasonable Institute arms entrepreneurs creating solutions to the world’s biggest social and environmental problems with the mentorship, capital, and networks they need to do so.

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