Acumen Blog

Partners in venture philanthropy

This article in the LA Times a few weeks ago gives an overview of venture philanthropy that highlights the work of our partner Jeff Skoll and the Skoll Foundation, Generation Investment Management (which was founded and run by Acumen Fund board member David Blood), and Jed Emerson, who advises Acumen Fund on metrics. The community of individuals and organizations focused on market-oriented approaches to change is growing and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. [Read More]

Acumen Fund investees in the media

Acumen Fund investee Tralance Addy was featured recently in Business 2.0 for WaterHealth International‘s efforts to tackle one of humanity’s biggest problems. And in a terrific piece in The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof discusses the importance of social entrepreneurs and pays tribute to investee Roshaneh Zafar of Kashf.  It is exciting to see this growing level of interest in these entrepreneurial approaches to social change. [Read More]

Acumen Fund in the media

There’s been a fair bit of coverage of Acumen Fund in the media over the past week. In print, a nice profile of us appeared in the Financial Times. On the radio, NPR’s “From Scratch” program featured an interview with Jacqueline Novogratz. And online, the WorldChanging blog wrote about our strategic partnership to address issues of water scarcity (which we discussed in a post this past August). [Read More]

Ashoka announces new Fellows

I thought you would be interested in Ashoka‘s new class of Fellows. Bill Drayton has done so much to change the world’s thinking about the power of entrepreneurial approaches to solving the world’s problems. Indeed, as you look at many of these individuals, it becomes clear that each is an entrepreneur in his or her own right and that maybe, in this next century, we’ll drop the term “social” altogether in recognition that entrepreneurs all carry the same DNA, whether they are working on private or public issues. Congratulations to Ashoka and to all of the new Fellows — the world certainly  needs you. [Read More]

The method behind our metrics

At Acumen Fund, our focus on metrics has become an integral part of everything we do. Understanding the social impact and financial performance of our investments is critical to informing our portfolio decision-making process and providing support to our investment enterprises. Over the past few years, building on other established approaches, we have worked to develop a methodology for assessing our investments that is practical, understandable and useful to our ongoing work. This concept paper outlines an analytical tool we affectionately refer to as BACO (for best available charitable option) that helps us to understand the social impact and cost-effectiveness of our investment, as compared to other charitable options that address the same issue. It continues to be a work in progress and is not without its limitations, but it does provide a framework for how we think about delivering critical goods and services in health, housing and water to the poor. [Read More]

We are all voices of the same poverty

I’m just back from India with the board, jet-lagged but excited by the trip and the commitment of so many stakeholders –  our board, our India team, our investees, our advisors. We are building a real community, and it is this group of people in India and elsewhere who are responsible for the powerful changes we are seeing. Cate Muther gave me Kiran Desai’s Inheritance of Loss to read on the plane, and I completed it just as the plane was arriving at JFK. I couldn’t recommend it more highly – it is a book about India and the scars of colonialization, of the diaspora and of humans of different classes and types trying to make sense out of an increasingly complex world. It should be required reading for people interested in our issues of building viable solutions to poverty through market-driven approaches. [Read More]

Seeing low-cost eyeglasses get to rural consumers

We were pleased that one of our investments, Scojo, was recently profiled in The Economist. In additon to discussing the Scojo model, the article highlights its partnership with another Acumen Fund investment, Drishtee. By facilitating collaborations like this (and a similar one with Medicine Shoppe), Acumen Fund is helping Scojo to expand its distribution and reach in rural India. [Read More]