dial 1298 yehia

Photo of the Week from Yehia Houry, Acumen Fund Fellow

Photo Credit: Yehia Houry

Most people know about Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia: National Geographic documentaries, Blockbuster movies, “Reality” slum tours, Harvard case studies, you name it. But how many have heard of Pratap Nagar, Golibar Rd, Mahim Creek, and Kamathipura? All slums in Mumbai which remain unnoticed to the outside world.

With 55% of the city’s population living in slums, which barely cover 5% of the city’s land, these jam-packed communities are subject to many problems, affecting water, sanitation, hygiene, housing and electricity, to name just a few. These poor human living conditions and an absolute lack of basic services make people much more prone to diseases and accidents.

That’s why Dial 1298, one of Acumen’s investees in India and the first reliable ambulance and emergency medical response service in India, has initiated a pilot program for a community of 50,000 people in Kamraj Nagar, one of the many ‘forgotten slums’ of Mumbai. With the help of our two partners, SNEHA, an organization that empowers women and children within slum households, and LIHS, experts at providing life support and EMS education in emergency situations, we are providing emergency health training for young community leaders in the slums, and will soon start placing ambulances locally for awareness and education. This project, whose initial research was conducted by Acumen Fellow Joanna Harries, will pave the way to a cost-effective customized BPL (below the poverty line) marketing plan that would be financially self-sustainable.

This picture was taken during one of our trainings, when a little girl saw the commotion around the bright yellow ambulance and decided to join in the fun. The 1298 poster behind her was actually grabbed from my bag and put up on the door by one of the health center volunteers who got really excited at the prospect of finally having a reliable ambulance service in her community.

The harsh infrastructure conditions in these slums do make me realize just how difficult it is for an ambulance to reach a patient within the “golden hour”, the span of time crucial for his survival. But I would like to believe that having a vehicle parked closer to the community and conducting as many emergency training sessions as we can afford to, coupled with a customized marketing campaign aimed at creating a paradigm shift in people’s minds about a reliable ambulance service affordable to everyone, will make a difference. We are off to a slow, but steady, start.

Yehia Houry is a Class of 2010 Acumen Fund Fellow who has spent the past 9 months in Mumbai working with Dial 1298.


Acumen Partners with AlphaSights to Better Access Global Expertise

In our work investing in social enterprises that deliver critical goods to the poor, there is a substantial amount of work to evaluate each investment opportunity. A critical part of the diligence process, particularly when it comes to emerging markets, is speaking with industry experts who can provide reliable information about sector trends, market dynamics and public policy – all of which affect our evaluation of potential investment opportunities. [Read More]


Our manifesto begins, “it starts by standing with the poor.” Yet for good reasons, the sector has found it challenging to measure which customers are actually being served through social impact investments – getting accurate data on incomes is notoriously difficult and the logistical challenge and cost of conducting surveys in person prohibitive. [Read More]

Questions for Aspiring Leaders

Bavidra Mohan, Acumen’s India Fellows Manager, attended this years Aspen IDEAS festival as a Scholar. The Scholarship program was established to invite guests from around the world to bring a diverse set of experiences, voices and perspectives to the rich conversations that take place at the IDEAS festival each year. [Read More]

Give Impact Investing Time and Space to Develop

Impact investing has captured the world’s imagination. Just six years after the Rockefeller Foundation coined the term, the sector is booming. An estimated 250 funds are actively raising capital in a market that the Global Impact Investing Network estimates at $25 billion. Giving Pledge members described impact investing as the “hottest topic” at their May 2012 meeting, and Prime Minister David Cameron extolled the potential of the sector at the most recent G8 summit.  Sir Ronald Cohen and HBS Professor William A. Sahlman describe impact investing as the new venture capital, implying that it will, in the next 5 to 10 years, make its way into mainstream financial portfolios, unlocking billions or trillions of dollars in new capital. [Read More]

10 Books We’re Reading This Summer

What are you reading? It is a common question here at Acumen, an organization full of avid readers constantly trading favorite book titles that discuss leadership, impact, development and branding. Here are 10 stellar books we’re reading this summer. These books and others provide a framework of thinking, a spark of new ideas, a platform for debate. So, what are you reading? [Read More]

How Acumen Brought Back my Fire

Eda is an East Africa Regional Fellow from Nairobi, Kenya and is the Founder and Director of Halisi Trust, an organization that seeks to challenge the vices that plague society and encourage transformational development in Kenya’s youth. When Eda applied for the East Africa Fellows Program, she felt disillusioned and stuck. Below, Eda discusses how Acumen’s Regional Fellowship Program brought back her fire. Now, Eda has engaged nearly 6,000 people through outreach events and the Mkenya Halisi movement continues to grow. Acumen is currently accepting applications for the next class of East Africa Fellows. APPLY TODAY! [Read More]

Imagining the world as it could be

Christine Gitau is an East Africa Fellow and an enterprise coach at Craft Afrika, which provides business support services to craft entrepreneurs, enabling them build viable and thriving businesses in Kenya. At Acumen we often use the term “Moral Imagination” when talking about leadership. Christine wrote a reflection on how this concept has shifted her thinking. We could not be more proud of what she is building! [Read More]

How two Acumen Fellows are disrupting the education model in India

Whether its running youth soccer programs, providing vocational training services, or transforming the education system in India, Acumen India Fellows are driving real change in their communities.  Abbas Dadla and Abhilasha Sinha are India Fellows who are addressing the teacher shortage in India through the use of technology and peer collaboration. Find out what they are building below.  If you have grit, resilience and a commitment to creating change in your community in India, East Africa or Pakistan, we encourage you to apply for the Regional Fellowship Program! [Read More]

Meet Manjushree Patil, Founder of Aatman Academy

This month saw violent tragedies in Pakistan and Kenya, regions where Acumen works and which five classes of Acumen regional fellows call home. Among them there are dedicated teachers like Acumen India Fellow Manjushree Patil, crusaders against sex trafficking, builders of government, creators of liberating mobile medical technologies, and curators of slum sports programs. The need for strengthening the connections between those who are working for positive change against seemingly impossible odds has never been greater. We at Acumen have never been prouder to be the thread tying together these courageous individuals. Read more about Manjushree and how she is changing her community in India below! [Read More]