Acumen Blog

Base of the Pyramid Themes Underpin India’s Elections

Editor’s Note: New blogger Uma Hemachandran is a Portfolio Associate based in Hyderabad.

The next Indian general elections are due soon, and one crucial battle line in the upcoming election will be the parties’ interest in addressing the bottom of the pyramid.

Recently, opposition leader Lal Krishna Advani of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) declared that “…a whole new world will open up if we stop seeing the poor as victims or as a burden and start recognizing them as resilient and creative entrepreneurs and value conscious consumers.”

(Interestingly, Mr. Advani borrowed his words verbatim from BoP strategist C.K. Prahalad. If that’s not an endorsement of the BoP approach, then I don’t know what is.)

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, P. Chidambaram, the current finance minister of India and a Congress party man, noted that “sections left out, such as farmers, people belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes, minorities and those working in small occupations, must be brought into the mainstream.”

While Congress and BJP have their own versions of the addressing inclusive growth, the truth is that the bottom of the pyramid will have much to cheer about no matter which party comes to power.

That said, the challenge in India is (as always) the last mile – ensuring that policy benefits actually reaches the intended people. The benefits of privatisation have been around for people to see in telecom and road infrastructure development, and this direction will not be reversed. It will not be a surprise if the government encourages private players to help breach the last mile barrier in many sectors including those areas that Acumen operates in (health, housing, water and energy). The government, irrespective of political affiliations, is likely to encourage partnerships with groups and enterprises who can deliver efficiently to the BoP.

Those of us at Acumen are excited and look forward to a new breed of entrepreneurs – perhaps inspired by politicians – that are addressing the problems of poverty.


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]