Acumen Fund is committed to sharing the learnings we have collected over our past 10 years. In this spirit, we have published a document called “10 Things We’ve Learned About Tackling Global Poverty.” Each week on the Acumen Fund Blog, we will be posting the next lesson in this series of “10 Things,” along with a guest response from a valued member of our community.
10. Patient capital investing is built upon a system of values; it is not a series of steps to be followed.
“This moment in history demands a new kind of leadership”
We’ve spent a decade building a new approach to fighting poverty, and we’ve learned that our most valuable skill is our ability to balance the values we hold dear: generosity and accountability, listening and leading, humility and audacity – all built on a foundation of integrity and respect. The work we do exists in the spaces in-between, the grey areas where the rules have yet to be written.
Every day we make hard, sometimes excruciating decisions – between profit and impact, efficiency and equality, short-term and long term – in a complex, imperfect world that craves quick, easy answers. This takes discipline, focus, and sacrifice, along with compassion and empathy. Effecting real change, in other words, is hard work. It requires nothing more and nothing less than the art of leadership.
Indeed Acumen Fund’s greatest legacy may someday be the leaders we’ve had the honor to work with and support – our team, our investees, our Fellows, and our global community. This moment in history, filled with so much opportunity and so much distance between us, demands a new kind of leadership, one that starts by understanding problems from others’ perspective, one that begins with listening but is not afraid to take a firm, moral position.
In ten years of doing this work, we have learned that none of us has all the answers, and that all of us are needed to find them. Our opportunity today is to deepen the questions we ask; to be audacious in our aspirations but humble in the way we walk through the world; and to work together to find solutions that create a world where the full dignity of each and every person can be expressed.
If not us, then who? If not now, then when?