Acumen Blog


Failure is the first step to success

“Madam ji, this is for you. We cannot pay the fees but we can pay you like this.” A doe-eyed little girl carrying a bucket of warm milk stood on my door step. That girl not only opened the door to my room but also my eyes to the reality that my project, a language training center in my home village of Dandot, Pakistan, was beginning to make a difference in someone’s life.  I had received the highest reward—the gratitude of that girl was priceless.

This was the beginning of SunShine, an educational initiative I started as a response to the dire need for education in my home town. We initiated our first “school within a school” concept with a selection of twenty students. Today we have 800 students in two villages and we continue to grow.

Starting my career in the private sector and moving into the development sector, I eventually created my own path in social entrepreneurship. Along the way, I have seen some success and plenty of failure.  I have learned that success is directly proportional to the attempts made for it. In the face of failure, hope is a wonderfully powerful emotion. It puts you back on track whenever you lose the sight of your goal. I have had a recent series of failures in my project’s implementation and financing. However one thing has kept me going. I have seen that belief and conviction is the key to success. Despite these recent issues, I have come to realize that I am happy for what I am doing even when the setbacks get me down.

History is filled with examples of people, from Thomas Edison to Oprah Winfrey, who failed miserably and repeatedly before finding success. Michael Jordan, who was cut from his high school basketball, but refused to give up on his dream, once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Life is full of successes and failures, but in my experience, the worst failures are still better than the regret of not even trying for what you hope to accomplish. Today as I work to reconfigure my organization and my strategies for bringing better education to Pakistani schoolchildren, I am uncertain about which path is best to take. Yet one thing that is clear is that I will try my best to make it work and will not lose hope.

So to all my friends out there, don’t let failure hold you back. Get up, strike back and fail better; for success is sometimes wrapped in your passion and belief and above all your unalterable conviction that it is possible. Don’t fear failures; they are the first step to success.


Reflections on the India Fellows Seminar

Each year, the India Fellows Program brings together up to 20 emerging leaders from different regions, sectors, and socio-economic backgrounds in India. During the fellowship year, Fellows remain in their jobs and meet every 6-8 weeks throughout the year for 4 seminars and 2 collaborative projects, each about a week long. As the India Fellows Associate, Jacqui is responsible for supporting all aspects of the program recruitment, logistics, marketing and strategic planning. Below, Jacqui reflects on the first seminar, Foundations of Leadership. You can read more about the fellowship program here[Read More]

Adaptive Leadership in Action: Addressing Cultural Norms & Giving Women a Voice

In the fall of 2013, +Acumen launched the course Adaptive Leadership: Mobilizing for Change in partnership with the Cambridge Leadership Associates. This course is for anyone who wants to become more effective at leading their organization through change. Below, one of the course participants shared her story about how this course impacted her work and ability to affect change. [Read More]

Making Sense of Social Impact in Action: The Value of Educating Our Youth

At Acumen, one of the most common questions we get is how we measure social impact. Our newest +Acumen course – Making Sense of Social Impact: Acumen’s Building Blocks for Impact Analysis. – will provide an entry point for how to think about impact and we’ll share frameworks that help us define what to measure and why. Makoto Matsuura, founder of cobon a not-for-profit focused on youth education in Jakarta, Indonesia and Osaka, Japan, took a pilot version of this course and shared his reflections with us. [Read More]

Good news for philanthropists in the U.K. and Europe

We are excited to announce that Acumen now holds a CAF Charitable Trust in the United Kingdom. CAF, the Charities Aid Foundation, is a registered U.K. charity. By donating to Acumen through CAF, you can use Gift Aid if the amount of Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax you’ve paid for the tax year in which you make your donation is at least equal to the amount of basic rate tax  [the charity or Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) and any other charities or CASCs] you donate to will reclaim on your gift. CAF will reclaim 25% Gift Aid from HM Revenue & Customs and pass this through to Acumen.  The donor can claim higher rate tax relief (for more information, please refer to CAF’s online resource, What Is Gift Aid?). [Read More]

d.light Leaders Named 2014 Social Entrepreneurs of the Year

We are thrilled for our portfolio company d.light and Donn Tice, Chairman and CEO, along with cofounders Ned Tozun, President, and Sam Goldman, Chief Customer Officer, for being named Social Entrepreneurs of the year 2014 by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. d.light is a for-profit social enterprise that manufactures and distributes solar lighting and power products with primary markets in the developing world, today announced that d.light, along with 37 other individuals and organizations in the 2014 class, will be fully integrated into the events and initiatives of the World Economic Forum. [Read More]