Acumen Blog

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10 Things We’ve Learned: #7 – If failing is not an option, you’ve ruled out success as well

Acumen Fund is committed to sharing the learnings we have collected over our past 10 years. In this spirit, we have published  a document called “10 Things We’ve Learned About Tackling Global Poverty.” Each week on the Acumen Fund Blog, we will be posting the next lesson in this series of “10 Things,” along with a guest response from a valued member of our community.

7. If failing is not an option, you’ve ruled out success as well

“What’s important is learning from these failures.”

We won’t pull tens of millions of people out of poverty with a comprehensive ten-point plan.  Plans written by experts can crash and burn when faced with the shifting realities of the marketplace, and even the best interventions must be designed to evolve if they are to go from good to great.

At Acumen we invest in innovative models for tackling major social problems.  Every investment we make is risky, and a number have failed or fallen short of their goals: a company with a promising technology that failed to build robust distribution and marketing systems; a pharmacy chain targeting the urban poor that failed to manage for growth and ran out of capital; an investment where we discovered – too late – that our values were not aligned, forcing us to exit.

Creating new blueprints for social change requires taking bets on innovative business models, on sometimes-untested entrepreneurs, and on emerging leaders.  We reach far, and sometimes we come up short.  What’s important is learning from these failures and using them to get better at what we do.  Openness to failing opens us up to the possibility of real, groundbreaking success.

Click here for a response posts on Lesson #7 from Arianna Huffington and click here for the full “10 Things We’ve Learned About Tackling Global Poverty.”

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Each year, the India Fellows Program brings together up to 20 emerging leaders from different regions, sectors, and socio-economic backgrounds in India. During the fellowship year, Fellows remain in their jobs and meet every 6-8 weeks throughout the year for 4 seminars and 2 collaborative projects, each about a week long. As the India Fellows Associate, Jacqui is responsible for supporting all aspects of the program recruitment, logistics, marketing and strategic planning. Below, Jacqui reflects on the first seminar, Foundations of Leadership. You can read more about the fellowship program here[Read More]

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Making Sense of Social Impact in Action: The Value of Educating Our Youth

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Good news for philanthropists in the U.K. and Europe

We are excited to announce that Acumen now holds a CAF Charitable Trust in the United Kingdom. CAF, the Charities Aid Foundation, is a registered U.K. charity. By donating to Acumen through CAF, you can use Gift Aid if the amount of Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax you’ve paid for the tax year in which you make your donation is at least equal to the amount of basic rate tax  [the charity or Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) and any other charities or CASCs] you donate to will reclaim on your gift. CAF will reclaim 25% Gift Aid from HM Revenue & Customs and pass this through to Acumen.  The donor can claim higher rate tax relief (for more information, please refer to CAF’s online resource, What Is Gift Aid?). [Read More]

d.light Leaders Named 2014 Social Entrepreneurs of the Year

We are thrilled for our portfolio company d.light and Donn Tice, Chairman and CEO, along with cofounders Ned Tozun, President, and Sam Goldman, Chief Customer Officer, for being named Social Entrepreneurs of the year 2014 by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. d.light is a for-profit social enterprise that manufactures and distributes solar lighting and power products with primary markets in the developing world, today announced that d.light, along with 37 other individuals and organizations in the 2014 class, will be fully integrated into the events and initiatives of the World Economic Forum. [Read More]