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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.

We’ve been asked how we might better communicate not only what we do, but as important, what we are learning.  To this end, we wrote a manifesto as a covenant of sorts, our moral compass to ground us as the kinds of leaders we hope to be. It is an aspirational document, one to inspire us to do better, be better. We wrote it for ourselves and as a reflection of the kind of leadership we believe the world needs. I hope you find it of use.

It starts by standing with the poor, listening to voices unheard, and recognizing potential where others see despair.

It demands investing as a means, not an end, daring to go where markets have failed and aid has fallen short. It makes capital work for us, not control us.

It thrives on moral imagination: the humility to see the world as it is, and the audacity to imagine the world as it could be. It’s having the ambition to learn at the edge, the wisdom to admit failure, and the courage to start again.

It requires patience and kindness, resilience and grit: a hard-edged hope. It’s leadership that rejects complacency, breaks through bureaucracy, and challenges corruption. Doing what’s right, not what’s easy.

Acumen: it’s the radical idea of creating hope in a cynical world. Changing the way the world tackles poverty and building a world based on dignity.

To reflect that we started Acumen to change the way the world tackles poverty and not simply invest, we also are changing our name from Acumen Fund to simply Acumen. Our investment portfolio will continue to be the crucible of our work, generating impact on the ground and insights that drive our work in leadership and the spread of ideas. “Acumen” can hold all of our work and give us more flexibility to drive change in different ways.

Finally, we’ve refreshed our identity to mark this new chapter. Core to this is an “unfinished A,” to communicate that our work is never finished, that we don’t have all the answers, that we can’t do this work alone. Take a look around our new website to have a look. We hope you find the site more functional, more useful, and a better reflection of both our work and our spirit.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Acumen team. In the meantime, may we remember what is most important to us as a single world, and move together to build that vision – for it will take all of us.

Here’s to the future – with gratitude and excitement,

Jacqueline

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Acumen is proud to announce the selection of our third cohort of Pakistan Fellows. After a competitive application process, we’ve chosen a diverse group of 20 leaders working in provinces across the country. This year’s Fellows are fighting poverty and changing lives across Pakistan through unique initiatives that range from advocating for vulnerable prisoners’ rights, to creating solutions to address low-quality education, to developing branchless banking channels for low-income customers, and more. Read more about each Fellow and their inspiring work below. [Read More]

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Acumen is proud to announce the selection of our second cohort of India Fellows. After a competitive application process, we’ve chosen a diverse group of 20 leaders working in 13 states. This year’s Fellows are fighting poverty and changing lives across India through unique initiatives that range from providing affordable menstrual hygiene products to marginalized women, to making quality education available to children in conflict zones, to designing innovative sanitation solutions for the urban poor, and more. Read more about each Fellow and their inspiring work below. [Read More]

ACUMEN NAMED ONE OF WORLD’S TOP 10 MOST INNOVATIVE COMPANIES IN NOT-FOR-PROFIT BY FAST COMPANY

Fast Company today announced its 2015 ranking of the World’s Most Innovative Companies in Not-For-Profit, honoring leading organizations and rising newcomers that exemplify the best in social and philanthropic innovation. Acumen earned the No. 7 spot on the annual list in recognition for its Lean Data Initiative—a project launched in 2014 to find more efficient, cost-effective ways to measure and evaluate social impact. [Read More]

ANNOUNCING THE 2015 EAST AFRICA FELLOWS

Acumen is proud to announce the selection of our fourth cohort of East Africa Fellows. After a competitive application process, we’ve chosen a diverse group of 21 leaders from five different countries in the region: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and, for the first time, Ethiopia. This year’s Fellows are fighting poverty and changing lives across East Africa through unique initiatives that range from providing much-needed ambulance services to helping make hygienic sanitation more accessible and affordable to empowering young women to start viable agro-enterprises and more. Read more about each Fellow and their inspiring work below. [Read More]