Acumen Blog

Letter from Jacqueline Novogratz – May 2014

Springtime. A day trip to speak in Washington, D.C. coincided with the peak of the city’s prized cherry blossoms, a gift from Japan to the United States in 1912. I walked at dawn, mesmerized by those venerable trees, their gnarled trunks and knotted branches adorned with fragile blushing flowers, promises of a renewal at once beautiful and fleeting. Life is so short: if not of purpose, then of what? [Read More]

Letter from Jacqueline Novogratz – Winter 2014

During Chinese New Year celebrations just a few weeks ago, I walked through the streets of New York as colorful confetti mingled with white snowflakes: beautiful fragments, a fluttering, harmonious welcome to the Year of the Galloping Horse. Indeed, Acumen is moving apace. January brought a trip to India; February, Pakistan. Both experiences have reinforced a sense of optimism amidst global challenges. [Read More]

Remembering Nelson Mandela

One of my life’s privileges was standing with a group of ordinary citizens listening to President Nelson Mandela at an outdoor Town Meeting in 1999.  Here he was, this most extraordinary human being and moral leader, speaking in a neighborhood, thanking and preparing them as he peacefully – and historically – handed over power to a new generation.  There was no fanfare, little security, an air of informality: just a giant in our midst. I was running the Rockefeller Foundation’s Next Generation Leadership program to build a diverse corps of American leaders.  Days earlier, one of our fellows, Ingrid Washinawatok, a powerful Native American leader working on behalf of indigenous peoples, had been senselessly murdered in Colombia by FARC soldiers.  As I listened to Mandela, I thought of how his immeasurable courage so influenced Ingrid and so many like her.  His own walk to freedom had enabled the whole world to believe. And act. And now it is to us to continue. [Read More]

Letter from Jacqueline Novogratz – July 2013

Recently, on an early morning run along the Hudson River, I found myself standing in front of “Immigrants,” a massive cast-iron sculpture by Luis Sanguino of a group of weary souls, their eyes focused upward with a sense of hope, of possibility. In the distance, the Statue of Liberty rose in the harbor, her torch still a beacon of freedom despite the fact that the journey is not yet complete. [Read More]

A Manifesto

Twelve years after starting Acumen, we’ve learned a lot about poverty. On the one hand, we’ve seen that patient capital works: from nine ambulances to 1,000 answering 2 million calls; from a solar torch prototype to bringing light to 14 million. That’s impact that matters. On the other, we’ve learned the real costs of growing these investments. It takes more than capital, and demands leadership infused with courage, judgment, wisdom. We’ve seen that we as a world need to do better at measuring what we cherish, not only what we can count. [Read More]

Acumen Values Award

At Acumen, our values are woven into all we do – from investing in companies to how we treat one another, our wider community, and the customers with whom we work. We realize that the work of creating change requires the moral imagination and, at times, courage, to consider trade-offs as we make the best decisions we can. To be effective, we need to know how to be both accountable and generous, when to listen and when to lead, how to be audacious while practicing humility. These rest on the foundation of both respect and integrity, two immutable values that carry into all we do. [Read More]