Our World

Skoll World Forum: Designing With Empathy

I remember my time at the Skoll World Forum last year as one of my favorite weeks during the fellowship. The opportunity to spend time with the fellows and share our stories, reconnect with Acumen Fund, and participate in inspiring conversations around social entrepreneurship was truly a magical experience. I was very excited to return this year and was even able to convince IDEO’s CEO, Tim Brown and Co-Creative Officer, June Fulton Suri, to join me.

The Forum did not let anyone down and the excitement I felt upon arrival has stayed with me since. The energy and optimism around social entrepreneurs and those supporting them is incredible. Participating in discussions about scale, microfranchising, and climate change were especially stimulating and the lens of culture, which was a focus of the forum this year, was a great addition to the many more economic-based conversations we tend to have in this field.

I was fortunate to lead a workshop with my colleagues from IDEO, Tim, Jane, and Aaron, about using empathy as a tool for social impact. The purpose of the workshop was to give a quick taste of the IDEO design process and teach a few observation techniques for social entrepreneurs trying to understand different cultural contexts. While IDEO workshops are always fun, the quality of the observations and ideas that come out of them is quite varied. Working with a group of 60 esteemed practitioners, we were very impressed by the depth of observations they noted and the innovativeness of ideas that they generated.

If in only two hours teams could come up with ideas like midwives on bikes, wandering microscopes, and health pods, just think of what they could do in a few weeks.


Why India’s Economic Growth Depends on Vocational Training

India has an enormous population of young people – over half of the 1.2 billion people are younger than 25 years old. Yet, only 2% of its 500 million person workforce has any skills or training. The majority work in the informal sector (90%), where there are few opportunities for education other than what workers ‘pick up’ on the job. This reality limits overall productivity, as well as upward mobility. [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]