Acumen Blog

Why We All Need A ‘Rikki’

Caren Wakoli is an emerging leader in East Africa who has launched a foundation to support the next generation of female leaders for Africa. Caren applied twice for the fellowship and was not accepted, but she did not give up. Her resilience and grit allowed her to persevere, and this year we are proud to have her as an East Africa Fellow. Below she shares her story on why everyone needs a ‘Rikki,’ and failure is never final.  [Read More]

Acumen Joins Beyond the Grid as Founding Partner

Acumen is proud to be a founding partner of Beyond the Grid, an innovative framework under President Obama’s Power Africa initiative to increase energy access for underserved populations across sub-Saharan Africa. Beyond the Grid will leverage partnerships with investors and practitioners committing to invest over $1 billion into off-grid and small scale solutions for this underserved market. [Read More]

Life after Lean

In May 2013, Sabrina Natasha Premji & Afzal Habib participated in +Acumen’s inaugural Lean for Social Change course based on Lean Start-Up principles. Enrollment for the next session of the Lean for Social Change course is open now. If you are working on a social issue in your community, are interested in pursuing your own social venture, or are just interested in creating an impact in this world…Register today! Sabrina & Afzal joined the course with a simple idea and the passion to transform the childcare crisis in East Africa’s informal settlements. Seven weeks later, they had developed a customer-tested business model ready to pilot in Kenya’s densest slums. Read their story below. [Read More]

Beyond the Aid Debate

Blair Miller is VP of the MDG Health Alliance, a coalition philanthropists/businessmen that use private sector approaches to address global health issues. Prior to this, Blair spent 5 years here at Acumen. Below, she writes about the aid debate and why we need to move beyond these simplistic arguments and dive into more realistic issues. This post was originally posted here. [Read More]

Letter from Jacqueline Novogratz – May 2014

Springtime. A day trip to speak in Washington, D.C. coincided with the peak of the city’s prized cherry blossoms, a gift from Japan to the United States in 1912. I walked at dawn, mesmerized by those venerable trees, their gnarled trunks and knotted branches adorned with fragile blushing flowers, promises of a renewal at once beautiful and fleeting. Life is so short: if not of purpose, then of what? [Read More]

Shaiza Rizavi Joins Acumen’s Board of Directors

We are pleased to announce that Shaiza Rizavi has joined Acumen’s Board of Directors. Shaiza became a Partner at Acumen after reading The Blue Sweater and recognizing that “Jacqueline had an idea large enough to disrupt poverty.” She has been a hugely valuable member of our community over many years, sharing her insights and ideas, joining a trip to East Africa to visit our investee companies, mentoring a team through our +Acumen course in Karachi, and participating on Fellows selection panels. You can watch this short video of Shaiza at our Investor Gathering this past year, discussing her experiences and impressions of Acumen. [Read More]

Discussing Investment Philosophy with Zaffar Khan

In addition to being on Acumen Pakistan’s Advisory Council and Chair of Acumen Pakistan’s Board, Mr. Khan is also a member of Acumen’s Investment Committee, responsible for approving Acumen’s global investments. Mr. Khan also serves as Board Member of the Pakistan Center for Philanthropy. Previously, he has also served Chairman of PIA, KSE, and PTCL and President of Engro Chemicals Ltd. He sat down with us to discuss his investment philosophy, discussing what he looks for and common challenges he has seen. [Read More]

Highlighting our Incredible Pakistan Fellows

Acumen Regional Fellows are leaders tackling the most challenging social issues by starting with their own communities. This year’s Pakistan cohort brings together leaders from all over the country, addressing issues ranging from sex trafficking to the education of street children. With two seminars under their belts and three more to go, the Acumen Pakistan Fellows are mid-way through their Fellowship Year. Below, we check in with four of them to see how they’re using the skills from the program to help translate their vision into reality. [Read More]

Acumen and Plan 9: Investing in Tomorrow’s Social Entrepreneurs

In May, Acumen Pakistan partnered with Plan 9 to identify upcoming social entrepreneurs that are using technology to tackle society’s most pressing problems. Set up by the Government of Punjab, Plan 9 is a technology-focused incubator in Lahore that incubates 24 companies in 2 cycles each year. During each cycle, selected teams receive office space at Plan 9 as well as multiple training, mentor, and product review sessions.  [Read More]