Fellows

Chris H&S

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!

A few weeks ago, while attending a seminar on human rights, I was engaged in an emotive conversation on discrimination and its often-ugly manifestations. We talked about religion, race, age, sex. As one might expect, it was a highly polarized discussion.

For the most part, I was silent. I felt alienated, like an outsider looking in. It was like a scene at a dance party: everyone seemed to be listening and moving to the same beat, and I to a completely different one. I felt completely disoriented, not because I did not understand the topic of discussion or was uncomfortable with it. In fact, during Seminar One of the Acumen Fellowship, we had an engaging 2-day session on human rights and freedom. Unpacking the Good Society Readings, we read and discussed controversial readings from Plato and Aristotle, Lee Kuan Yew and Martin Luther King. Rarely had I felt so intellectually engaged and invigorated.

So what had been the biggest difference between the two forums?

Acumen’s Pulse

As I contemplate this question now, I realize how very privileged I am to be part of the 2014 cohort of Acumen Fellows. Because therein lies the answer. You see, Acumen has a pulse – a regular, steady, reassuring pulse. It breathes life, feeling and emotion into every idea, every individual and every business that comes into contact with it.

That is what was missing from the seminar on human rights a few weeks ago. I felt alienated from that discussion precisely because it gave me no life, no emotion, no purpose. Where it should have left me challenged and inspired, it left me frustrated and alienated. If the popping veins and jabbing fingers were any indicator, it certainly had a pulse that others found invigorating. But it was a pulse alien to me, far removed from what I have come to identify with as my source of life.

Moral Imagination

I first came across Acumen’s pulse through the phrase Moral Imagination. Described as ‘the humility to see the world as it is and the audacity to imagine it as it could be’, it is a phrase that has completely shifted my thinking. The two-word concept gives life to my purpose and catapults me into a new world of possibility. It challenges me to stop making excuses and to get on with what needs to get done.

I dare to believe in possibilities, in a world that could be. I dare to ask more of myself, of others, of the universe. More importantly, I dare to share and influence others with this new powerful self that the Acumen fellowship has nurtured to life.

Comments

Announcing a New Investment: SolarNow

Acumen is pleased to announce a $1.4 million investment in SolarNow, a company that sells and finances solar home systems in Uganda. We sat down with Shuaib Siddiqui, Acumen’s Portfolio Director to learn more about the deal and why he’s excited about this innovative company. [Read More]

Letter from Jacqueline: My Week in Ghana

I am writing on a return flight from Ghana. The country has not seen a single case of Ebola, yet the impact of fear is profound. As travelers enter the country, attendants screen for high temperatures. Hand sanitizer dispensers are omnipresent. Hotels and conferences have seen massive cancellations. Everywhere are constant reminders of our fragility and the strength of our connectedness. [Read More]

Six online courses we’re taking this year

+Acumen’s free online courses are a great way to learn tools that will help you develop both professionally and personally. Whether you are a social entrepreneur who wants to market to your customers or a young professional that wants to strengthen your leadership skills, we are offering six courses this Fall that will help you develop the tools, knowledge, and networks to change the way the world tackles poverty. [Read More]

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]

DE-BUNKING THE BURDEN MYTH: IMPACT DATA GOES LEAN

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]