Acumen Blog


Do you have what it takes to be Unreasonable?

In the summer of 2009, an enthusiastic student from the University of Colorado – Boulder came into Acumen Fund’s New York office for a meeting. We sat down over coffee, and he told me he was launching a business accelerator to give social entrepreneurs wings. To be honest, I thought he was talking about Red Bull. His idea struck me as a bit crazy – perhaps even doomed to fail.  Boy, was I wrong.

That college student was Daniel Epstein, and his crazy idea was – and is – the Unreasonable Institute. The Unreasonable Institute is a mentorship and training program for entrepreneurs tackling the world’s biggest social and environmental problems. Each year, a select group of 25 entrepreneurs live under one roof in Colorado for six weeks; they receive mentorship, refine their business plans, and build relationships with prominent partners in the sector (full disclosure: Acumen is one such partner) who have the potential to bring capital to their businesses. Against all odds, Daniel and his team created what is now one of the most interesting and innovative social enterprise incubators I’ve seen.

Over the past couple of years, I have recommended multiple startup social enterprises to Unreasonable and seen them emerge stronger, sharper, and more ready for the world. Unreasonable is now taking applications for its next program that begins on September 26, 2012. Applications close November 10th so don’t hesitate, apply now.

Now in its third year of existence, Unreasonable consistently outdoes itself and has shown me that the idea is so crazy, it just might work. I tip my skeptic cap to the Unreasonable team, and don a much more optimistic one – they helping improbably ideas become possible, and filling a gap that our sector desperately needs in getting early stage social enterprises off the ground.

Rob Katz is a Portfolio Manager in Acumen Fund’s India Office.


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]