Acumen Blog

Sharing knowledge about banking for the poor in Pakistan

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled “Lacking urgency” that discussed the importance of waking up individuals to tough global issues – and presenting constructive solutions, not simply overwhelming. Roshaneh Zafar, President of Kashf Foundation and an Acumen Fund investee, recently sent out the following letter and study, demonstrating the kind of leadership that we need. This is an important paper – a frank accounting of lessons learned in delivering banking products to the poor. Roshaneh’s is also an important voice for encouraging open and honest knowledge sharing and we’re proud to be working with her. [Read More]

Introducing Acumen Fund’s 2006 Fellows

Over the next four weeks, we shall be introducing our 2006 Acumen Fund Fellows. This year’s inaugural cohort comprises a diverse group of individuals who all share not only individual accomplishment but a proven desire to serve, to listen, and to be part of a larger community focused on significant, measurable change. It is thrilling to see talented people who could do so many things in the world choose to give back to it – a spirit embodied by the Acumen Fund team as a whole. [Read More]

An Inconvenient Truth

Al Gore’s terrific new film, An Inconvenient Truth, is the most important movie you can see right now. It is also very engaging and I can’t recommend it more highly. The film is really a dynamic presentation that Vice President Gore has made thousands of times over the past years. Not only will you see a man of true conviction and passion speaking, you will also learn a lot about one of the most (if not the most) critical issues of our time. The scientists agree that climate change is real (at the TED Conference, individuals suggested the name be changed to climate crisis) and that it is occurring even more rapidly than scientists had originally thought. The link between climate change and poverty is also strong. It is not inconceivable that we’ll see Bangladesh under water in the next 40 years, displacing over 150 million people who will search for new homes and countries, adding greater instability to the region. [Read More]

Announcing our 2006 Fellows

As we have mentioned in previous posts, we have spent the last several months in an intensive search for the best and brightest young professionals to make up our first cohort of Acumen Fund Fellows. After reviewing applications from some 600 candidates from 52 countries (and talking to many of them), we are extremely pleased to announce our eight 2006 Fellows, who will be starting with us in September: [Read More]

World Bank Development Marketplace brings market focus to social innovation

Water Portfolio manager Yasmina Zaidman and I recently attended the World Bank Development Marketplace conference in Washington DC. Development Marketplace is a competitive grant program of the World Bank that funds innovative, small-scale development projects that deliver results and show potential to be expanded or replicated. The theme for this year was Water, Sanitation and Energy. 118 finalists (out of 2500 applicants) attended, and a final 30 were announced as winners. [Read More]

Long-lasting bednets in action

This video, which was broadcast on UK’s Channel 4, highlights some of the impact that the Olyset long-lasting insecticide-treated anti-malaria bednet is having in Africa. Acumen Fund’s investment in A to Z Textile Mills, the Tanzanian manufacturer, helped to facilitate the technology transfer and start initial production of the bednets. The video takes viewers to visit local villages where the nets are in use and shows the growing capacity of A to Z, which will soon be producing seven million nets annually. [Read More]