Acumen Blog

More than money

Great article on the front page of the New York Times about our partner Google.org and its executive director, Larry Brilliant.  It is really exciting to see Google.org push boundaries around what is possible and how we need to use ALL of the resources at our disposal to solve tough problems of poverty. If there is one thing our work over the past five years has taught us, it is that to be more effective, philanthropy cannot be thought of only as money given to help people. Google has such great reach in the world that it can influence entire sectors using much more than its money – and their vision is an exciting one. [Read More]

Seeking effective vaccine distribution

Interesting article on looking at market-driven solutions for healthcare prevention. One of the main reasons cited for chronic poverty is huge expenditure on healthcare, in part because treatment is so much more expensive than prevention. This is what makes vaccines so important. In many cases, the world has vaccines but not the distribution systems. In Pakistan, for example, the cost of a Hepatitis-C vaccine is approximately $25; treatment for the chronic disease that attacks the liver and can result in death at least $600. In Lahore, Pakistan, it is estimated that 12-15% of the population is infected with the disease. Our partner, Kashf, is launching a micro-lending program to provide financial options to poor people infected with the disease to help them cope – for without treatment, they are often unable to earn any income at all to survive. [Read More]

Bringing value-added services to the rural poor

Congratulations to our investee Scojo Foundation, which features in an article published in The Financial Express (part of the Indian Express group) on Hindustan Lever Ltd (HLL) and ITC Ltd’s rural business initiatives. Sadly, Scojo has been misspelled as Skojo – but it is thrilling to see Scojo Foundation highlighted as part of the effort to bring – and market – affordable products to underserved markets. [Read More]

Drishtee – one of Asia’s hottest startups

We are delighted that Acumen Fund investee Drishtee has been named one of Red Herring’s “100 Hottest Startups in Asia.” In Drishtee CEO Satyan Mishra’s words, “this award augurs well for the scalable growth of ‘Technology for Development’ in India and in all other developing economies. ” We would like to congratulate Satyan and everyone who has worked so hard with him to help Drishtee grow and strengthen its operations.  The company is a powerful example of what is possible by combining strong heads and soft hearts, the commercial and the social, and we couldn’t be prouder to be working with the Drishtee team. [Read More]

Acumen Fund at Stockholm World Water Week

I was recently invited (with full sponsorship from UN Habitat) to speak on a panel at Stockholm World Water Week. This is the world’s largest annual water conference and I was there to discuss the value of market-based approaches to water and sanitation funding for small towns. The planners of the session wanted to foster a debate and encouraged speakers to take on their opposing roles in earnest. Goaded on by facilitator Dominic Waughrey of the World Economic Forum, we each took polarized positions and provided concrete examples of failures and opportunities of the various forms of financing. With a little humor and expert facilitation, each of us went further than we may have planned in pointing out the inconsistencies and gaps in each others’ arguments. [Read More]