Acumen Blog

IMG_9247

Acumen Joins Beyond the Grid as Founding Partner

Acumen is proud to be a founding partner of Beyond the Grid, an innovative framework under President Obama’s Power Africa initiative to increase energy access for underserved populations across sub-Saharan Africa. Beyond the Grid will leverage partnerships with investors and practitioners committing to invest over $1 billion into off-grid and small scale solutions for this underserved market.

Acumen has committed to invest up to $10 million in 5-10 enterprises serving off-grid markets in multiple Power Africa countries. Acumen started investing in Energy in 2007, and our work in Energy is now impacting tens of millions of lives. We have invested $12.8 million in 11 energy companies that have created over 950 jobs. One example is d.light design, a company that sells high-quality and affordable solar lighting solutions to the poor, impacting over 33 million people’s lives. We have found that investing in energy is one of the most highly leveraged ways to tackle poverty. Indeed, the transformative power of energy is clear:

  • Advances education: Reliable access to light allows students to study at night, increasing their educational opportunities and empowering them to work towards a better future
  • Increases income: Electricity has been proven to increase productivity in low-income communities. Businesses can stay open later, allowing business owners to increase their earnings while local economies become stronger.
  • Improves health: Access to safe light, such as solar, breaks the cycle of dependence on kerosene lamps which produce toxic fumes that lead to a range of respiratory illnesses and can cause burns when knocked over.

Power Africa was launched in June 2013, and has leveraged more than $15 billion from the private sector for new on, mini and off-grid projects in sub-Saharan Africa. One of the initial 2013 commitments was to Acumen investee Husk Power Systems, which sought to complete the installation of 200 decentralized biomass-based mini power plants in Tanzania – providing affordable lighting for 60,000 households.

“Beyond the Grid will help to expand the work the U.S. Government is already doing through Power Africa to bring electricity to citizens of sub-Saharan Africa,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “With close to 600 million people without access to modern-day electricity, it is clear that centralized grid access is not a comprehensive solution for these countries in one of the world’s least urban continents. But through solutions including off-grid and small scale energy projects, we can bring electricity to these rural areas.”

The founding partners of the Beyond the Grid include:

  • Acumen
  • Bamboo Finance
  • BBOXX
  • Capricorn Investments
  • CrossBoundary
  • d.light
  • Embark Energy
  • Energiya Global
  • Fenix International
  • Global Off-Grid Lighting Association
  • Gray Ghost Ventures
  • Invested Development
  • Khosla Impact
  • LGT Venture Philanthropy
  • Liberia Energy Network
  • Low Carbon Enterprise Fund
  • Mosaic
  • Off Grid Electric
  • Persistent Energy Partners
  • Powerhive
  • Schneider Electric
  • Shell Foundation
  • Solar Sister
  • SunFunder
  • Tony Elumelu Foundation
  • United Nations Foundation
  • Virunga Power

Comments

Questions for Aspiring Leaders

Bavidra Mohan, Acumen’s India Fellows Manager, attended this years Aspen IDEAS festival as a Scholar. The Scholarship program was established to invite guests from around the world to bring a diverse set of experiences, voices and perspectives to the rich conversations that take place at the IDEAS festival each year. [Read More]

10 Books We’re Reading This Summer

What are you reading? It is a common question here at Acumen, an organization full of avid readers constantly trading favorite book titles that discuss leadership, impact, development and branding. Here are 10 stellar books we’re reading this summer. These books and others provide a framework of thinking, a spark of new ideas, a platform for debate. So, what are you reading? [Read More]

How Acumen Brought Back my Fire

Eda is an East Africa Regional Fellow from Nairobi, Kenya and is the Founder and Director of Halisi Trust, an organization that seeks to challenge the vices that plague society and encourage transformational development in Kenya’s youth. When Eda applied for the East Africa Fellows Program, she felt disillusioned and stuck. Below, Eda discusses how Acumen’s Regional Fellowship Program brought back her fire. Now, Eda has engaged nearly 6,000 people through outreach events and the Mkenya Halisi movement continues to grow. Acumen is currently accepting applications for the next class of East Africa Fellows. APPLY TODAY! [Read More]

Imagining the world as it could be

Christine Gitau is an East Africa Fellow and an enterprise coach at Craft Afrika, which provides business support services to craft entrepreneurs, enabling them build viable and thriving businesses in Kenya. At Acumen we often use the term “Moral Imagination” when talking about leadership. Christine wrote a reflection on how this concept has shifted her thinking. We could not be more proud of what she is building! [Read More]

How two Acumen Fellows are disrupting the education model in India

Whether its running youth soccer programs, providing vocational training services, or transforming the education system in India, Acumen India Fellows are driving real change in their communities.  Abbas Dadla and Abhilasha Sinha are India Fellows who are addressing the teacher shortage in India through the use of technology and peer collaboration. Find out what they are building below.  If you have grit, resilience and a commitment to creating change in your community in India, East Africa or Pakistan, we encourage you to apply for the Regional Fellowship Program! [Read More]

Meet Manjushree Patil, Founder of Aatman Academy

This month saw violent tragedies in Pakistan and Kenya, regions where Acumen works and which five classes of Acumen regional fellows call home. Among them there are dedicated teachers like Acumen India Fellow Manjushree Patil, crusaders against sex trafficking, builders of government, creators of liberating mobile medical technologies, and curators of slum sports programs. The need for strengthening the connections between those who are working for positive change against seemingly impossible odds has never been greater. We at Acumen have never been prouder to be the thread tying together these courageous individuals. Read more about Manjushree and how she is changing her community in India below! [Read More]

No, not silence again!

The Acumen Fellowship’s Cambridge Leadership Associates (CLA) training is notorious for digging deep, breaking Fellows down to reveal their deepest fears, identifying the sources of resilience that will fuel them with the tenacity to continue along the path to social change. Kahabi G. Isangula is an East Africa Regional Fellow living in Tanzania and recently participated in our CLA training. Get an idea of what it is like, below!  [Read More]

Announcing the Class of 2015 Acumen Global Fellows

Acumen Global Fellows are architects for the impact sector. They are innovators, game changers, visionaries, with various professional experiences looking to make substantial change in the world. They have thrived in companies such as Google; they have started their own companies in Sri Lanka, Canada and Malaysia.  They are choosing the challenge of working alongside our portfolio companies and immersing themselves in a rigorous leadership training. [Read More]