Our World


Our 5 favorite blogs from 2012

Happy New Year! Before we dive headlong into all the exciting developments we have in store for 2013, we wanted to pause, reflect and say thank you. 2012 was a tremendous year at Acumen, which included (among a lot of other things) opening a new office in West Africa, launching a Pakistan Regional Fellows Program, and impacting 100 million lives through our investments.

The support of our community during the last year has been truly remarkable. Thank you for reading our updates, sharing our work with friends, and helping to change the way the world tackles poverty. We could not be more humbled by this outpouring of support from our community!

Before we fully embark on another year of impact and innovation, let’s take a look back at our 5 favorite blogs from 2012:

5. Another face of Pakistan

In this post, Chief Innovation Officer, Sasha Dichter, talks about his recent experience in Pakistan. He contrasts the Pakistan we often hear about in the news with what he saw on the ground.  He shares the stories of several inspiring entrepreneurs who are bringing positive change to their country.

4. Jugaad – The art of frugal innovation


2011 Global Fellow, Cherian Joseph, shares a new word he learned while working for Ziqitza Health Care Limited in India. As Cherian demonstrates with lots of great photos and examples, jugaad essentially means finding a solution with limited resources, or “frugal innovation.”  It’s a concept that can be found throughout the countries where we work. What’s most interesting is that the concept of jugaad has made its way into some of the biggest multinational companies, with large corporations drawing direct inspiration from innovators at the bottom of the pyramid.

3. Living in a Shanty Town – Breaking the Poverty Cycle

Pauline Wanja, a member of our first class of East Africa Fellows, shares her experience of growing up in and returning to Kibera, where she started a social change project called “Living in a Shanty Town” (LIST). LIST focuses on empowering youth by ensuring that they have the appropriate skills and resources to obtain a sustainable income. It’s an inspiring project and well worth a read.

2. Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Jacqueline reflects on Katherine Boo’s extraordinary and award-winning book, “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity.” She discusses how this book reaffirms Acumen’s mission of standing with the poor.  Making markets work for and with the poor requires serious risk-taking. To break the back of poverty and build systems that are inclusive, we have to do what other organizations are often not willing to: focus on impact over financial return.  We tackle poverty by investing patient capital that supports entrepreneurs for the long haul.

And why are we so adamant about investing philanthropy for social return? The answer brings us to our top post of 2012:

1. From Blueprint to Scale: The case for philanthropy in impact investing

By far our most popular post of the year, this blog announces the Blueprint to Scale report that we released with Monitor.  If you are interested in the sector and haven’t read it, you should check it out. For those looking for a quick takeaway, the report demonstrates that investment capital is not sufficient to unlock the potential of impact investing for the global poor. Due to the extreme challenges of creating new inclusive businesses in emerging markets, philanthropy is needed to bridge the funding gap for game-changing companies that serve the poor.


Happy New Year to all! Together we can make 2013 the most impactful year yet.


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]

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]

No, not silence again!

The Acumen Fellowship’s Cambridge Leadership Associates (CLA) training is notorious for digging deep, breaking Fellows down to reveal their deepest fears, identifying the sources of resilience that will fuel them with the tenacity to continue along the path to social change. Kahabi G. Isangula is an East Africa Regional Fellow living in Tanzania and recently participated in our CLA training. Get an idea of what it is like, below!  [Read More]

Announcing the Class of 2015 Acumen Global Fellows

Acumen Global Fellows are architects for the impact sector. They are innovators, game changers, visionaries, with various professional experiences looking to make substantial change in the world. They have thrived in companies such as Google; they have started their own companies in Sri Lanka, Canada and Malaysia.  They are choosing the challenge of working alongside our portfolio companies and immersing themselves in a rigorous leadership training. [Read More]