Acumen Blog

Debate at the bottom of the pyramid

A recent paper titled “Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: A Mirage” stirs up debate around the business opportunity around the poor – and garnered a response from C.K Prahalad. The paper argues that the only way to alleviate poverty is to focus on the poor as producers – not as consumers – to raise their income. We, like Prahalad, believe that these are not mutually exclusive. Given the right access to choices, the poor can make consumer decisions that increase their ability to generate income and improve their overall quality of life. The fact that there is ongoing debate around this idea reinforces the need for Acumen Fund, and others in this space, to continue to find and support examples of enterprises that are successfully serving the poor. [Read More]

MacArthur’s social entrepreneur “geniuses”

The MacArthur Foundation recently announced their prestigious “Genius” Awards, and it was thrilling to see two of our peers, Jim Fruchterman of Benetech and Victoria Hale of One World Health, be named to this most exclusive list. Both Jim and Victoria are social entrepreneurs, using the practices of business to implement social visions to improve the world.  We’re proud to know them both and proud to see social entrepreneurs being honored in this way. The world is changing as this most vital sector begins to emerge and reshape itself. Congratulations to Jim and Victoria and all who work with them. [Read More]

More than money

Great article on the front page of the New York Times about our partner and its executive director, Larry Brilliant.  It is really exciting to see 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]