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.


Announcing a New Investment: SolarNow

Acumen is pleased to announce a $1.4 million investment in SolarNow, a company that sells and finances solar home systems in Uganda. We sat down with Shuaib Siddiqui, Acumen’s Portfolio Director to learn more about the deal and why he’s excited about this innovative company. [Read More]

Letter from Jacqueline: My Week in Ghana

I am writing on a return flight from Ghana. The country has not seen a single case of Ebola, yet the impact of fear is profound. As travelers enter the country, attendants screen for high temperatures. Hand sanitizer dispensers are omnipresent. Hotels and conferences have seen massive cancellations. Everywhere are constant reminders of our fragility and the strength of our connectedness. [Read More]

Six online courses we’re taking this year

+Acumen’s free online courses are a great way to learn tools that will help you develop both professionally and personally. Whether you are a social entrepreneur who wants to market to your customers or a young professional that wants to strengthen your leadership skills, we are offering six courses this Fall that will help you develop the tools, knowledge, and networks to change the way the world tackles poverty. [Read More]

Four Emerging Leaders Building the Future of Pakistan

With 60% of Pakistan’s population living under less than a dollar a day, the external narrative of Pakistan is characterised by what the country lacks; a lack of security, a lack of women’s rights, a lack of access to education, and the list goes on. What this narrative ignores are the individuals who work tirelessly to plug those gaps. From human rights to education to food security, Acumen Pakistan Fellows are affecting change through organizations committed to tackling poverty. Their work is truly inspiring, promising a hopeful future for Pakistan. Here are four fellows that are building this future for Pakistan and come together periodically to share learning experiences and grow as leaders. Through five seminars, the fellows have strengthened skills of adaptability, communication, empathy and problem solving through listening. If you are committed to creating change in your community, apply now to be an Acumen Pakistan Fellow. The deadline is 29 September. [Read More]

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]