Dubai for Acumen’s Inaugural Spring Benefit at Cuadro Art Gallery in DIFC

Sonya Khan is on the leadership team of Acumen Fund’s Dubai volunteer chapter. Dubai for Acumen’s Spring Benefit successfully raised more than $10,000 for Acumen Fund. The Dubai chapter is Acumen Fund’s third official chapter and we are excited to welcome them to our Acumen Fund Partner community.

Surveying the crowd of professionals mingling at Dubai for Acumen’s first fundraising event in the heart of Dubai’s financial district, I felt a surge of satisfaction.  Only a week earlier, as the volunteers made our final push for ticket sales, we weren’t sure how many people to expect for our first event. Unlike many of the other cities where Acumen Fund and its Chapters operate; in Dubai, Acumen Fund was a completely alien concept.   The objective of the event was to make an impact on Dubai’s professional community and to get the word out about Acumen Fund, so numbers mattered.  Volunteers had been sending out emails, making phone calls, and talking to co-workers, friends, and acquaintances for weeks in a bid to reach as many people as possible and it had clearly paid off – the Chapter ultimately sold 300 tickets. The atmosphere at the art gallery was animated; people strolled through nibbling on canapés, enjoying the accompaniments of the pianist, some still in business suits straight from the office, others glammed up for an evening out.  Small groups gathered around scattered TV monitors, watching videos of various Acumen Fund projects and hearing Jacqueline Novogratz speak.  Once the presentation started, the chatter quickly died down and attention turned to the informational part of the evening.

Dubai draws many people from around the world through its reputation for decadence and the lure of a more luxurious life.  The informational session that evening was a call to action, daring us all not to be lulled into a life of comfortable complacency.  It started out with Ankur Shah presenting the facts and figures along with real world examples of how Acumen Fund is achieving its goals, appealing to the most practical minds in the audience.  He was followed by the keynote speaker for the evening Sarah Dimson, a Ghanaian-American Acumen Fellow, who iscurrently working at Ansaar Management Company, a low income housing company based in Lahore, Pakistan. Sarah challenged all of us to find a way to make a difference. She spoke passionately about how amazed she was by her experiences as an Acumen Fellow, even though it was radically different from what she had anticipated when she applied.  She presented the Acumen Fellows program not only as a means through which to make positive mark on the planet, but also an avenue for personal growth.

I expected the evening to wrap up quickly after that and was pleasantly surprised to see how many people lingered on, stopping volunteers to ask questions, sharing ideas and seeking ways to get further involved.  If as Voltaire says, the present is pregnant with the future, then this event will bring inspiration, growth, and energy to the Dubai for Acumen chapter.


Reflections on the India Fellows Seminar

Each year, the India Fellows Program brings together up to 20 emerging leaders from different regions, sectors, and socio-economic backgrounds in India. During the fellowship year, Fellows remain in their jobs and meet every 6-8 weeks throughout the year for 4 seminars and 2 collaborative projects, each about a week long. As the India Fellows Associate, Jacqui is responsible for supporting all aspects of the program recruitment, logistics, marketing and strategic planning. Below, Jacqui reflects on the first seminar, Foundations of Leadership. You can read more about the fellowship program here[Read More]

Adaptive Leadership in Action: Addressing Cultural Norms & Giving Women a Voice

In the fall of 2013, +Acumen launched the course Adaptive Leadership: Mobilizing for Change in partnership with the Cambridge Leadership Associates. This course is for anyone who wants to become more effective at leading their organization through change. Below, one of the course participants shared her story about how this course impacted her work and ability to affect change. [Read More]

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. [Read More]

Good news for philanthropists in the U.K. and Europe

We are excited to announce that Acumen now holds a CAF Charitable Trust in the United Kingdom. CAF, the Charities Aid Foundation, is a registered U.K. charity. By donating to Acumen through CAF, you can use Gift Aid if the amount of Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax you’ve paid for the tax year in which you make your donation is at least equal to the amount of basic rate tax  [the charity or Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) and any other charities or CASCs] you donate to will reclaim on your gift. CAF will reclaim 25% Gift Aid from HM Revenue & Customs and pass this through to Acumen.  The donor can claim higher rate tax relief (for more information, please refer to CAF’s online resource, What Is Gift Aid?). [Read More]

d.light Leaders Named 2014 Social Entrepreneurs of the Year

We are thrilled for our portfolio company d.light and Donn Tice, Chairman and CEO, along with cofounders Ned Tozun, President, and Sam Goldman, Chief Customer Officer, for being named Social Entrepreneurs of the year 2014 by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. d.light is a for-profit social enterprise that manufactures and distributes solar lighting and power products with primary markets in the developing world, today announced that d.light, along with 37 other individuals and organizations in the 2014 class, will be fully integrated into the events and initiatives of the World Economic Forum. [Read More]