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Acumen Fund Celebrates Inaugural Class of East Africa Fellows and Opens Application for a New Incoming Class

Acumen Fund Fellows create a platform to highlight innovation and the future of social entrepreneurship in East Africa

Nairobi, Kenya, June 22, 2012 – Acumen Fund, a pioneering nonprofit global venture fund addressing poverty across Africa and South Asia, today hosted its first ever Innovation Conference. The conference was organized by the first class of Acumen’s East Africa Fellows, a group of 19 individuals who have spent the last year developing initiatives that drive innovative social change for the region. Initiatives included a social enterprise focused on home ownership for low-income families, a youth leadership initiative and a music exhibit encouraging social engagement.

Acumen Fund is now accepting applications for this year’s East Africa Fellows program through 5th August, 2012. More information can be found at http://www.acumenfund.org/fellows/east-africa-fellows-program/how-to-apply.html.

Attendees of the Conference explored the broad potential for entrepreneurship in the region and discussed viable solutions to improving access for low-income communities in the sectors of agriculture, energy, education, housing and more. The program included a discussion on the future of the social sector in East Africa led by Edwin Macharia, Partner and Regional Director at Dalberg, and including panelist Aleke Dondo, Managing Director of K-Rep Bank. Attendees also examined the types of capital necessary to support social innovation, from grants through investments, with Acumen Fund’s East Africa Director Biju Mohandas and held a session on leadership with Kenya Inuka Trust Deputy CEO and governance and anti-corruption specialist, Tom Mboya.

Following the conference, a graduation ceremony took place bringing together a broad cross-section of leaders in the business community and civil society. The event featured a key note speech by Binyavanga Wainana, Kenyan author, journalist and winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing.

“This was a chance for important leaders in business and civil society to really engage with our fellows and the incredible work that they’re doing,” said Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen Fund. “This cohort of future leaders is exceptional and represents the future change makers who will continue to drive social innovation in East Africa.”

The success of this class of fellows marks a significant step in Acumen Fund’s investment in leadership around the world. Acumen Fund partnered with Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), the Bank’s Foundation and the Edmund De Rothschild Foundation to make the East Africa Fellows Program possible. Acumen has committed to building Regional Fellows Programs globally that will train one thousand leaders over the next ten years.

For additional information on Acumen Fund East Africa or the East Africa Fellows program, please visit www.acumenfund.org or contact Suraj Sudhakar at ssudhakar@acumenfund.org or Elizabeth Patella at epatella@acumenfund.org.

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About Acumen Fund

Acumen Fund is working to create a world beyond poverty by investing in social enterprises, emerging leaders and breakthrough ideas. We invest patient capital in business models that deliver critical goods and services to the world’s poor, improving the lives of millions. Since 2001, Acumen Fund has globally invested more than $75 million in 69 companies. We are also working to build a global community of emerging leaders that believe in creating a more inclusive world through the tools of both business and philanthropy. Please visit www.acumenfund.org for more information.

About the East Africa Fellows Program:

The East Africa Fellows Program was launched in July 2011 with a group of 19 leaders from the East African region drawn from different nationalities, sectors and socioeconomic backgrounds. The program is designed to develop Fellows’ leadership skills and strengthen the projects they are driving. The year-long program is structured like an executive MBA and includes five multi-day seminars, which conclude in this Innovation Conference. During these seminars, fellows get access to world-class leaders and mentors who help them deepen their skills within the social enterprise sector. The fellows also participate in a regional trip, which gives them the opportunity to learn about social change models in different countries. The final Innovation conference is a chance for fellows to showcase their projects to a larger community of leaders.

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