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.