Acumen Blog

Call for Fellows Class of 2008

I’ve spoken previously about the need to build an “entrepreneurial bench” of top talent with strong financial and operational skills as well as the moral imagination to build appropriate enterprises with local stakeholders. Launching the Acumen Fund Fellows Program has been our effort to identify and develop some of the world’s next generation of leaders. [Read More]

Drishtee leads Deloitte Technology Fast 50 India ranking

Congratulations to Acumen Fund investee Satyan Mishra, CEO of Drishtee, for being identified as India’s fastest-growing high-tech company. We are proud to be working with Drishtee, which is building a network of telecenters across India based on a franchise model that delivers an array of services and information. Through Satyan, we’ve learned the power of piggybacking on distribution systems. We’ve also been struck by the company’s approach to identifying entrepreneurs by holding competitions around sales drives before a franchise is awarded. We believe that Drishtee is one of Acumen Fund’s strongest business models for serving the rural poor and look forward to learning more and to working more closely with Satyan and his team. [Read More]

Jacqueline Novogratz at Asia Society

On November 30, Acumen Fund CEO Jacqueline Novogratz will be speaking at the Asia Society in New York. She will be participating in a panel discussion, along with philanthropist Abraham George, on the topic of social entrepreneurship in India. The discussion will be kicked off by UN Undersecretary Shashi Tharoor and moderated by Dan Gross of The New York Times. For more information, click here. [Read More]

In the news

Acumen Fund has had a fortunate few weeks in terms of media coverage. Not only were we featured in BusinessWeek online, an article about us appeared in the “Giving” section of Monday’s The New York Times; James Surowiecki mentions Acumen Fund in MIT’s Technology Review; and we will be featured this weekend on CNN’s program “In the Money.” Clearly, the media is starting to pay closer attention to new models for social enterprise, and we’re happy to be part of advancing that discussion. [Read More]

It’s all a balancing act: strategy, leadership, life

Another busy week as an Acumen Fund Fellow addressed issues of balance. The question of life balance is a particularly resonant one for me, given that I am juggling the needs of my family (a wife and 9-month-old son) with my responsibilities as a Fellow. It’s clear that such questions are common to every leader and would-be leader. But balance goes beyond just overcoming the divide between personal and professional lives. [Read More]

A place for profits in microfinance?

In a timely article, given the winning of the Nobel Peace Prize by Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank, The New Yorker discusses the power and potential of microfinance as one way to lift people from poverty. One interesting thread of the article is around exactly how profitable enterprises serving the poor should be. It is a complex question: most microfinance organizations actually charge high interest rates to cover high transaction costs, and, once specific volumes are met, tend to be very profitable organizations. Other companies – certainly many of those supported by Acumen Fund – take years of subsidy before they move to break-even and financial sustainability. (It has to be remembered that the microfinance industry is now more than 30 years old. Its maturity allows for more sophisticated capital markets to evolve.) Finding ways to communicate the power of market-oriented approaches while recognizing the need for grant capital to build management capacity and overall infrastructure continues to be a major challenge for the social sector focused on supporting business approaches to solving social problems. [Read More]