Our World


Skoll World Forum: The Skoll Awards

The Skoll World Forum always culminates in the granting of the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship on Thursday evening. I came late, so I headed to the upper level, where broad wooden steps were vastly more accommodating than the benches downstairs.

Among this year’s award winners was Jordan Kassalow of VisionSpring, a social venture that Acumen Fund has supported since 2005. Jordan is truly a visionary, pioneering social franchising in India, wholesale partnerships with established organizations in Latin America, South Asia and Africa, and a lean supply chain to India. He is a new global capitalist, combining his business skills with his training as an eye doctor to reach the 400 million people in the world who suffer from being near sighted. The story that he told of when he restored vision to an older woman in Mexico, who had come to him clutching her bible wanting to some day read it again, brought tears to my and many other people’s eyes.

There were too many other memorable moments, including a stunning Jordanian women Soraya Salti, who is bringing business education to young people throughout the Middle East and a pair of human rights activists, Juan Mendez and Paul van Zyl, who have put their lives on the lines for the rights of the oppressed in their home countries, Argentina and South Africa, respectively, and 30 other countries transitioning from conflict to reconciliation.

But to prove Acumen Fund Sustaining Partner Donald Rubin’s point that you need both bread and roses (although it is hard to think of the Skoll Awardees as mere bread), the art stole the evening. KT Tunstall’s stunning voice and innovative rhythmic style lifted everyone’s spirits to join the angels on the ceiling of the theater.


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]