On The Ground


Talent, Leadership and Social Enterprise in Pakistan

By Priya Pandya, Acumen Fund Summer Associate (pictured at left)

In early August, Acumen Fund Pakistan held a small dinner at the Sheraton Hotel. Some of our investees, key partners and advisors – including Shaukat Tarin, Zubyr Soomro, Zaffar Khan, Ali Siddiqui, and Shahid Firoz – discussed one of the biggest challenges of social enterprise in Pakistan—developing and retaining talent.

Deepti Doshi, our Talent Manager, kicked off the evening with an overview of the Acumen Fellows Program as the search for the next class of fellows begins worldwide. Personal stories by current and previous fellows Jawad Aslam, Ayeleen Ajanee and Adrien Couton gave insight into what Acumen is looking for in hiring, but also what an experience working hand-in-hand with the investees has offered them. Each of the Fellows echoed the sentiment that the reach and power of the Acumen Fund brand and network has been invaluable. Jawad, who has spent the last year working with the Saiban low-income housing project, has been able to use this experience as a springboard to start his own commercial housing development and management company.

Zahara Khan, CEO of Sehat First, asked the million dollar question: “How do you attract employees with field experience, technical expertise, business knowledge and a passion to serve the poor? And how do you compensate them financially?” It was great to see others in the room eager to share their experiences and lessons. People brought up passion a number of times as the essential attribute for all people in this sector. Sadaffe Abad, CEO of Kashf Foundation, said it best, “You don’t need to go high-end. Why target top-ranked universities? Why not recruit from within the community, where people have a stake in the success of the project. You need long-term strategy and clear profiles. You need two or three people who really share the values that are important to your company. Leadership is critical and culture is important. Once you get a few people to lead, it grows.”

Even after the discussion and during dinner, conversations ensued on interesting topics. I was most alarmed to learn from Zahara that, in her work, she comes across mothers who chew up tobacco and give it to their children to stop them from crying! Our investees have an array of knowledge and welcome the idea of having a sounding board to discuss their everyday challenges. There is much to learn and share as the notion of social enterprise slowly gains traction in Pakistan. Acumen Fund Pakistan plans to build on the momentum started from this event with future investee knowledge sharing workshops.


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]