Acumen Blog

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]

Ashoka-Changemakers launches “Health for All” competition

Every year, millions of individuals die of diseases that could be prevented by basic, low-cost measures. To address this global challenge, Ashoka has announced a Changemakers’ Innovation Award on how to improve health for all. The goal of this competition is to identify and advance innovative strategies that provide high-quality, cost-effective and scalable health solutions reaching low-income populations around the world. The application deadline is May 24. Check out the Changemakers site for more information. [Read More]

Rural service delivery in India’s IT sector

Just off the plane from a two-week trip to South Asia, I am energized by what I saw in India: a quickly evolving business ecosystem poised to serve India’s 600,000 villages. India’s flourishing IT sector, epitomized by the massive traffic jams and lack of hotel rooms, has been widely hyped, but perhaps even more apparent on this journey was the growing base of practitioners, development folks, NGOs, government agencies and – yes – businesses that view India’s rural population – much of which earns less than $4 a day – as true consumers who want to make their own choices and solve their own problems. This should not be surprising, considering 1 in 8 people on the planet lives in an Indian village, but it really hit home being on the ground and seeing how much energy is going into identifying and deploying solutions. [Read More]

The threat of the Naxalites in India

On my last trip to India, I was struck by the number of people who raised the threat of the Naxalites - the Maoist rebels who number an estimated 10,000 individuals and are impacting over a quarter of the country’s 602 counties. The groups see themselves in some quarters as modern day Robin Hoods but are bringing violence and instability to the poorest areas that need the most assistance. They are an indication of the growing gap between rich and poor, and something to be monitored in our world where forces compelling the gap to grow are powerful. How to provide the poor with the real opportunities of the global marketplace becomes a more urgent imperative for all of us. This article from the Star-Ledger provides more information about the Naxalites. [Read More]