Acumen Blog

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]

Fasting against malaria

On May 11, a coalition of organizations is sponsoring an International Fast Day Against Malaria to raise awareness of and funds for the global fight against malaria. Proceeds will go toward the purchase of long-lasting insecticidal mosquito nets – a product with which Acumen Fund is very familiar, given our investment to support their manufacture and distribution in Tanzania. (Click here for more info or to participate.) [Read More]

Do you moo?

The recent book The Big Moo: Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable, edited by our good friend Seth Godin, includes essays from 33 top thinkers, including Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters and Acumen Fund’s own Jacqueline Novogratz. “The Group of 33” is collectively donating 100% of author royalties from The Big Moo to three charities. Acumen Fund is delighted to be one of them, along with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Room to Read. On April 1-2, MSN kindly donated its home page to run two innovative ads for The Big Moo, spreading the word to its vast audience. Our thanks to Seth, MSN, the authors and all those who have bought the book. [Read More]

Happy birthday, Acumen Fund!

Acumen Fund celebrated its fifth birthday this week. It is hard to believe in some ways, exciting to think about in all ways. On April 1, 2001, Acumen Fund was officially registered as a public charity. Since then, we have focused on building sustainable and scalable organizations that deliver affordable healthcare, water and housing to the poor. These efforts have helped yield significant social returns, including the following: [Read More]

Listening to “nobodies”

Peggy Noonan writes a compelling commentary about the kind of leadership needed in today’s world (and yesterday’s and the future’s as well). Leadership must begin with the people we are trying to serve. And that means listening to them, even if it isn’t comfortable, even if we don’t like them. We should think about organizing listening tours in the developing world for those in power – CEOs, government leaders, executive directors of powerful non-profit organizations. The point of such tours would be not to determine solutions after a few days’ exposure to the place, but simply to listen to what local people say, what they feel, what they articulate as their needs and desires. We might all learn a lot, not only about other communities, but also about ourselves. [Read More]