About Acumen: Who we are, what we do, how we do it, and why.

What we do

Acumen raises charitable donations to invest in companies, leaders, and ideas that are changing the way the world tackles poverty.

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Our Investments

Acumen started as an idea. Now our investments have impacted the lives of over 100 million people.

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Our Leaders

The future depends on a new breed of leader, ready to solve the world's most challenging problems.

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Our Ideas

We won't succeed alone, which is why we share ideas for others to build on and make better.

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Our Story

"Just start. Don't wait for perfection. Just start and let the work teach you." –David Lawrence

Acumen was incorporated on April 1, 2001, with seed capital from the Rockefeller Foundation, Cisco Systems Foundation and three individual philanthropists. Our desire was to transform the world of philanthropy by looking at all human beings not as distant strangers, but as members of a single, global community where everyone had the opportunity to build a life of dignity.

The organization we envisioned wouldn’t simply make grants, but would invest in entrepreneurs who had the capability to bring sustainable solutions to big problems of poverty. We would create a venture capital fund for the poor, supported by a global community of philanthropists willing to take a bet on a new approach. We would call our donors “Partners” and treat them like investors because our approach would be to invest together in long-term change. We enlisted twenty Founding Partners, whose generosity transformed Acumen from a vision to a reality. At the time, we knew we didn’t have any answers, so we simply started with a commitment to learn from our mistakes and let the work teach us.

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Our people

Acumen’s dedicated team works across its five global offices in Accra, Karachi, Mumbai, Nairobi, and New York to support our work investing in companies, leaders, and ideas. But, it doesn’t stop there. We think of our entire global community — staff, board, advisors, and partners — as part of the Acumen team, sharing a common vision, a common set of values, and an unwavering commitment to standing with the poor.

Together, we balance generosity with accountability, humility with audacity, and listening with leadership. Above all, we value respect and integrity.

Meet the Team

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The Patient Capital Approach

A third way to think about aid that marries the best of philanthropy with the best of markets.

The markets alone cannot solve the problems of poverty; nor are charity and aid enough to tackle the challenges faced by over two-thirds of the world’s population living in poverty. Patient capital is a third way that seeks to bridge the gap between the efficiency and scale of market-based approaches and the social impact of pure philanthropy.The patient capital Acumen provides is accompanied by a wide range of management support services nurturing the company to scale. Our aim in investing patient capital is not to seek high returns, but rather to jump-start the creation of enterprises that improve the ability of the poor to live with dignity.

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Our Investment Model

As a non-profit, we raise charitable donations that allow us to make patient long-term debt or equity investments in early-stage companies providing reliable and affordable access to agricultural inputs, quality education, clean energy, healthcare services, formal housing, and safe drinking water to low-income customers.

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Our Leadership Model

Acumen leaders possess a combination of financial expertise, operational expertise, and that special something we call “moral imagination.”

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