1379483_554769677593_1804586435_n

Mad to Live in Impact

John Collery is a Global Fellow working at Avani, a company that creates pine needle gasification power projects for remote communities in northern India. 

Towards the end of a conversation on impact investing, someone asked me if I was mad. While I didn’t readily agree to it, I did admit to being drawn to, and utterly captivated by, a certain kind of madness.

Hear me out.

I mean the kind of madness that would drive a 42 year old man with a mortgage, wife, and two young kids, to drop a salaried, pensionable job and bootstrap a business that would go global. 25 years later and he’s been at it ever since.

It’s that same madness I see in friends who have run international festivals, built killer apps, launched airlines, taken jobs in the harshest of developing countries, become world class chefs, hit financial ruin and come out the other side smiling, screamed like maniacs at rugby matches, cried after victories and grown resilient in defeat. It’s the inability to accept no. It’s a wildness and ferocity tempered only by the clarity of purpose, vigorous intellect, and time it takes to achieve.

It’s a madness that would drive a young couple living in Delhi to up tent and peg and move to the deepest Himalayas to start an organization that would impact thousands of lives. They didn’t stop there, and went on to launch an energy business that will impact hundreds of thousands more.

It’s a kind of madness that would push a New Yorker to take on the most pressing challenges of our time, eliminating poverty, embrace it with mind boggling enthusiasm and, beyond that, build a movement of others who are relentlessly committed to doing the same. Not just committed to doing it. Doing it.

In “On the Road,” Jack Kerouac talked about the mad ones:

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

Mad? Maybe a bit. In impact, it’s our madness, our staunch refusal to say no, and our ability to see the world as it could be that will bring about real change.

Comments

Acumen, Dow and Unilever Support Social Enterprises Across East and West Africa Through Technical Assistance Initiative

Acumen, together with The Dow Chemical Company and Unilever, launched its third annual Collaboration Summit in Nairobi today. Bringing together Acumen’s social enterprises from East and West Africa with leading international companies, the summit is part of Acumen’s Technical Assistance Initiative, which aims to accelerate the growth and impact of enterprises working in agriculture, energy, health care, and water and sanitation to better serve the region’s poor. By creating an occasion for emerging companies and multinational corporations to collaborate, the summit cultivates partnerships to bring social enterprises to scale and establish sustainable businesses committed to alleviating global poverty while also improving standards of living and expanding opportunities for the poor to lead lives of dignity. [Read More]

Acumen Launches to Tackle Poverty in Latin America

Acumen today announced its expansion to support social entrepreneurship in Latin America. The pioneer in impact investing will be headquartered in Bogotá and will invest in innovative entrepreneurs and enterprises in Colombia and Peru to drive faster, sustainable solutions to poverty and create new paths forward to tackle economic inequality. While extreme poverty in Latin America has declined by half, more than 80 million people still live on $4 a day and more than 200 million are at risk of being pulled back into poverty by economic instability and climate change. [Read More]

Acumen Increases Its Efforts to Improve India’s Private Education With New Investments

Acumen announces its new investment in Ignis Careers and Standard of Excellence in Education and Development (SEED) to improve the current state of low-cost, private education in India. India has the largest kindergarten to 10th grade system in the world with more than 1.6 million schools. More than 96 percent of children, ranging from ages 6 to 14, are enrolled in school. However, the quality of education is poor, and half of the children in Grade 5 can only read at a Grade 2 level. [Read More]

How You Can Help: The Nepal Earthquake

On Saturday, April 25th, an earthquake with magnitude 7.8 shook the country of Nepal, as well as parts of northern India. Hitting south of Kathmandu, the earthquake killed more than 3,800 people and injured more than 7,100 as of Monday morning. It is the worst to hit the region in 80 years, and aftershocks and tremors continued to rock the country over the past 48 hours. [Read More]

Welcoming Naeem Zamindar as Acumen’s new Pakistan Director

We are pleased to announce Naeem Zamindar as Acumen’s new Pakistan Country Director. Naeem’s 25-year career combines experience in venture capital with multiple high-level operational and leadership roles. Naeem worked at Intel Capital in Silicon Valley, helping build companies in the digital, new media and wireless broadband space. In Pakistan, he was CEO of Wateen Telecom, where he restructured the publicly listed company, turned around the business and repositioned it for growth, to take the company from losing $2 million per month to generating $1 million in positive cash flow over a matter of three years. He was also a founding member of Pakistan’s leading telecom company Mobilink and, as a part of its senior leadership team, built a nationwide fiber-optic network through the acquisition of four companies that now form Mobilink’s broadband division. [Read More]

Catalyzing the Growth of Social Enterprises with SAP

To accelerate the growth of our social enterprises in East Africa and India, we have joined forces with global business software leader SAP. Leveraging SAP’s technology and global business expertise, this unique collaboration will bring together Acumen entrepreneurs working in different sectors and countries to deepen their business capabilities and expand access to solutions to help them address global poverty. [Read More]