Acumen Blog


Day 1 Recap: AcumenGG17

It only seemed fitting that the Global Gathering kicked off with the vibrant colors and electric rhythms of East Africa. Adorned in Maasai cloths, the East Africa Fellows—with some help from the Global Fellows—set the tone for a day of nonstop energy and inspiring conversation.

The dome buzzed with excitement as Jacqueline took the stage, reflecting on the conception of Acumen’s leadership work more than a decade ago and the work of each and every one of you. “The world looks different today because of you, our Fellows. I ask that none of you leave here this week without committing yourself to the work the world needs.”

Jawad Aslam, Acumen Fellow turned Acumen entrepreneur, shared his journey to build Ansaar Management Company (AMC), a long, hard road ridden with personal and professional roadblocks that required grit, patience and faith—and the support of a number of Fellows, who all played an important role in making AMC Acumen’s second largest equity exit and its first from Pakistan. “It takes a collaborative effort to achieve success. AMC stands on the shoulders of many people sitting here in this room.”

AGRA’s Agnes Kalibata inspired the room with her stories of taking on the problems of poverty in Rwanda while reminding the crowd that, even in the dark moments, to “not betray your conscience because there’s nothing better in the world than doing the right thing.”

Safaricom’s Bob Collymore and KCB Bank Group’s Joshua Oigara spoke openly and honestly about tackling corruption and improving transparency in Kenya, and shared their advice on what it means to redefine business. “Businesses that have a purpose will run the world for generations to come,” Joshua said. “You are all in the right race to create a transformation that will live long past today.”

Of course, the conversation didn’t stop there. India Fellow Sathya Raghu’s talk on the role of listening was especially apt when it came time for Story Walks and Fellows-led breakout sessions, which covered everything from identity and interfaith dialogue to fundraising and embracing pluralism.

It was a day packed with emotion and enthusiasm, but we couldn’t end the night without a special birthday surprise for Jaqueline led by the Pakistan Fellows.



We are thrilled to announce Andrea Soros Colombel’s return to Acumen’s Board of Directors. Andrea played an integral role in the development of Acumen as a Founding Partner in 2001, then deepening her commitment by serving on the Board from 2005 to 2014. During that time, she helped shepherd a number of major projects at Acumen, including the inception of our portfolio of off-grid energy companies. Andrea has returned to the Board after three years and we welcome her thoughtful leadership and generous support. [Read More]

Models of High-Level Partnerships with Social Enterprises: Venture Partnerships

How can corporations and social enterprises partner to create a world that works for everyone? On April 4, 2017, Acumen hosted a workshop on high-impact partnerships for leading social enterprises, global corporations, and the organizations that work to link them as a part of the Skoll World Forum Ecosystem Events, to explore this question. Supported by EY, Sainsbury’s, Pfizer and the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, the session explored three different kinds of partnerships: Skills, Channel and Venture. [Read More]

A Cleaner Path: Solar Energy’s Impact on Health

Imagine for a moment that the light used in your home was a poison. One that could damage your lungs, irritate your eyes, even impact the health of your unborn child. You’d think twice about flicking on that switch. Kerosene lamps—used by an estimated 290 million people across Africa—contribute to household air pollution. Such pollution is responsible for more deaths a year than tuberculosis, malaria and HIV combined. [Read More]

Acumen Hosts Workshop on Building High-Impact Partnerships at Skoll World Forum

Acumen, with support from EY, Sainsbury’s, Pfizer, and the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, is hosting their second Beyond Dialogue workshop today as a part of the Skoll World Forum. The event, Beyond Dialogue: Three Models for High Impact Collaboration, will bring together leading global corporations, innovative social enterprises, experts and intermediaries to work together to uncover new knowledge and opportunities to partner. [Read More]

Day 2 Recap: AcumenGG17

As morning broke on Day Two, the grounds of the Great Rift Valley Lodge & Resort were dotted with Good Society groups. Cohorts joined together, bringing a diversity of perspectives, for revelatory, at times tough, but ultimately enriching discussions built around Ursula Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” and Yunus Emre’s “The Drop That Became the Sea.” [Read More]

What Women Can Do

In these uncertain times, when progress towards a more just world sometimes seems to be slowing, or even reversing its course, I often ask myself the question, what can I do? It’s easy to feel small or isolated in the face of so many challenges, many of which seem to have escalated over the past few months. [Read More]

Lighting the Way: A Look at Solar Energy’s Impact on Poverty Alleviation

In the last decade, solar lanterns have emerged as a clean, cost-effective solution to provide access to modern energy to the 1.2 billion people currently living off-grid. These small, portable and rechargeable lights fulfill an immediate need for the poor and, as a result, have become increasingly widespread in countries across Africa, South Asia and beyond. They are affordable, easy to use and require little maintenance. And for families who’ve become accustomed to life stopping when the sun sets, a solar lantern can mean hours of light to enjoy dinner together, do homework for class tomorrow, or keep a business open a little later. [Read More]