Listening to Chicago: An Event Supporting Acumen & Some Lessons from our Work

This Saturday, November 13 Chicago for Acumen is teaming with Nuru Project to host DIGNITY, a photography auction and exhibition benefiting Acumen Fund.  Attendees will have the opportunity to bid on photographs by renowned photographers such as Susan Meiselas/Magnum, Ami Vitale/National Geographic, and Palani Mohan/Reportage by Getty Images.

For the first of an ongoing preview of images, please refer to Nuru Project’s blog.

Purchase your tickets to DIGNITY today.

Planning this upcoming event has helped put in perspective some lessons I have learned from volunteering with this community. One of the greatest things I have taken away from Acumen Fund is the ability to share stories. From the time I first picked up The Blue Sweater, I was impressed by the dialogue that can be sparked from opening ourselves up and listening and learning from others’ experience.

Acumen Fund Chicago has been working with this goal in mind and myself as well as the other chapter leaders have been impressed with what we have uncovered. So often does Chicago—both literally and figuratively—get put in the middle. Since our kickoff in May, we have been able to shift our perspective to address what we can contribute here in the Midwest and through the Acumen Fund community as a whole.

Building a community requires passionate engagement

A good friend of mine once said “I think that passion comes from basic building blocks.  A love of taking care of people.  A love of bringing people together.  A love of constantly challenging yourself.” He said this within a day of his death, and I was able to see a community rally together as a result of his passion. I have been able to take these lessons and apply them every day to my involvement with the members of our growing Chicago community. It is easy to forget that we have to ask ourselves what we can do for members just as much as we ask them what they can do for us.

Try, Try, Try

The greatest thing about using entrepreneurial approaches to anything is the mindframe it requires. There is no giving up. There is no “right way” of doing things. Everything is a learning process, and the most important factor to keep in mind is as long as you are trying, your outcome will be successful.

The fruits of our labor will be showcased this Saturday at DIGNITY to benefit a wonderful cause, and we hope that you choose to join us.

Generous sponsors of the event include Mesirow Financial, HUB 51, Edible Arrangements, Mama M’s Kitchen, Sprinkles Cupcakes, FactSet, Food for Thought Catering, Gaylord Cuisine, Viceroy of India, Heritage Wine Cellars, Floriole, Palm Bay International, and Polaris Creative Group.

Erin Little is a Chapter Leader for Chicago for Acumen.


Four Emerging Leaders Building the Future of Pakistan

With 60% of Pakistan’s population living under less than a dollar a day, the external narrative of Pakistan is characterised by what the country lacks; a lack of security, a lack of women’s rights, a lack of access to education, and the list goes on. What this narrative ignores are the individuals who work tirelessly to plug those gaps. From human rights to education to food security, Acumen Pakistan Fellows are affecting change through organizations committed to tackling poverty. Their work is truly inspiring, promising a hopeful future for Pakistan. Here are four fellows that are building this future for Pakistan and come together periodically to share learning experiences and grow as leaders. Through five seminars, the fellows have strengthened skills of adaptability, communication, empathy and problem solving through listening. If you are committed to creating change in your community, apply now to be an Acumen Pakistan Fellow. The deadline is 29 September. [Read More]

Acumen Partners with AlphaSights to Better Access Global Expertise

In our work investing in social enterprises that deliver critical goods to the poor, there is a substantial amount of work to evaluate each investment opportunity. A critical part of the diligence process, particularly when it comes to emerging markets, is speaking with industry experts who can provide reliable information about sector trends, market dynamics and public policy – all of which affect our evaluation of potential investment opportunities. [Read More]


Our manifesto begins, “it starts by standing with the poor.” Yet for good reasons, the sector has found it challenging to measure which customers are actually being served through social impact investments – getting accurate data on incomes is notoriously difficult and the logistical challenge and cost of conducting surveys in person prohibitive. [Read More]

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]

Give Impact Investing Time and Space to Develop

Impact investing has captured the world’s imagination. Just six years after the Rockefeller Foundation coined the term, the sector is booming. An estimated 250 funds are actively raising capital in a market that the Global Impact Investing Network estimates at $25 billion. Giving Pledge members described impact investing as the “hottest topic” at their May 2012 meeting, and Prime Minister David Cameron extolled the potential of the sector at the most recent G8 summit.  Sir Ronald Cohen and HBS Professor William A. Sahlman describe impact investing as the new venture capital, implying that it will, in the next 5 to 10 years, make its way into mainstream financial portfolios, unlocking billions or trillions of dollars in new capital. [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]