Measuring Social Impact - Blog

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.

I joined this course thinking I already understood the framework for measuring social impact, but the course materials and the discussions with my course group really challenged my thinking.

The structure of the course fostered an open forum to share different perspectives with my team. I used some of those insights to construct a more focused version of my organization’s ideal outcomes and changed the way we look at the impact of our work. Gaining a tangible way to consider the positive impact of our work – that was definitely my biggest takeaway.

The cases in the +Acumen course focused on organizations from developing countries or organizations with tangible products for which quantitative data was relatively easier to capture compared to the nature of my work; but being exposed to these examples pushed my group to think more critically about quantifying the ways our work in the field of education impacts an individual’s emotional, cognitive, and psychological states; and the potential impact to that person’s long-term well-being in society.

Since the course ended I have found myself reflecting deeply on the questions “How can we better understand our impact?” and “What does it mean to measure our impact?”

I see a potential challenge because the courses are only offered in English. The language barrier could create some issues in spreading these ideas in our country; but it will be a huge loss if many leaders in our country fail to be a part of the +Acumen courses because of this. I strongly hope that +Acumen activities, including support from Tokyo+Acumen and Osaka+Acumen continue to provide effective tools for the Japanese social sector.

After the course, I was eager to share my discoveries from the +Acumen course with two of my community members who each run their own not-for-profits. Otona-no-senaka (roughly “Role Models” in English) hosts workshops for diversity education, self-awareness, empathy toward others. HanaLabs provides development programs for female college students that focus on change agents and social good.

Both organizations were facing the challenge of measuring their social impact due to the nature of their programs. Their feedback mirrored my own and we believe that leaders in social enterprises in Japan could leverage this course to engage their stakeholders and build their capacity as an organization in their own way, to further enhance the way they do good.

The next session for Making Sense of Social Impact: Acumen’s Building Blocks for Impact Analysis will begin in May. Check out the course and registration information here


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]