Acumen Blog

award winning pic

Capturing the best for World Water Day 2012

For World Water Day this year, we’ve compiled some of the best photos from across the water sector and our portfolio. For an in-depth look at Acumen’s perspective of the water sector, read Nijhad Jamal’s recent blog.

Photo Credit: G.M.B. Akash. Akash is the winner of the WIN Photo competition in 2011. His winning photo (above) was exhibited in Stockholm during the World Water Week 2011, which Akash was invited to attend. He writes about this photo:

“In this particular photograph, I tried to portray the true picture of the scarcity of potable water in slums. In slums, people have to stand in queues from early morning hours to get the daily supply of free drinking water from the government water tankers. As they have no idea exactly when the government tanker will come, they line up their water jars & sit beside them for hours waiting for the water tankers. Even after passing the long queue, the water that they receive is not of purest quality. Rather this impure water causes sickness. Still the poor people feel that they are fortunate not to have to leave with empty pots. This is the plight of the slum dwellers in the Bangladesh capital city of Dhaka.In my winning photo of WIN competition, I wanted to convey the ultimate state of heart wrenching vulnerability and helplessness of the poor little child, who is fighting along with a pigeon for few drops of water.”


A camp in Delhi home to about 4,000 migrant workers with no clean water supply. Workers are dependent on water tankers, and every day, they have to wait for the tanker and scramble for water. They are only part of the 1.1 billion people in the world without access to improved water supply.

Photo Credit: Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images. A woman draws water from a well in Gonate, in Ivory Coast. “Since 1990 over 2 billion more people in the world have received access to drinking water. And this progress has not been driven by just big middle-income countries – smaller, less well-endowed countries have also shown the way. The majority of people without access to drinking water – 479 million – live in countries that are not among the poorest. The country with the largest number of people without access to improved water – 119 million – is China, the world’s second largest economy.” Source:

A river in the Qayyumabad District near Karachi suffers from extreme pollution.

On the banks of the Yamuna River in Delhi, men and children are bathing and washing their clothes. A recent government audit found that the level of fecal coliform in the Yamuna was 100,000 times the safe limit for bathing.

Progress on sanitation delivery currently lags well behind other Millennium Development Goals. As such, private sanitation providers, from retailers to masons, from public toilet operators to latrine emptying business, are of vital importance to BoP communities. In developed countries sanitation is the role of the water utility.In developing countries however, the sanitation market is dominated by small private providers, usually very local in nature and often benefiting from little outside support.


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]