+Acumen

Acumen Fund Chapter leaders meet during the 10-Year Celebration

Changing the Way the World Tackles Poverty – Starting with our Own Communities

Acumen Fund Chapter leaders meet during the inaugural 2011 Chapter Leadership Retreat.

An “Aha moment” is an instant of sudden realization where the crux of a problem, or a key insight into possible solutions, becomes clear.  Over the past 10 years, the Acumen Fund community has achieved many such moments, and gathered in November to celebrate their continued exploration of solutions to issues of global poverty.

Timed to coincide with Acumen Fund’s annual Investor Gathering and 10 year anniversary Celebration, leaders of Acumen Fund’s volunteer chapters from the UK, Asia, Middle East, and North America convened on Nov 10th to Nov 12th in New York for the inaugural 2011 Chapter Leadership Retreat.  I was given the opportunity to attend the gathering as a core member of the recently launched BOSTON+acumen chapter. What resulted from the 2.5 day retreat was a heightened sense of inspiration, empowerment, and an increasingly connected community around the concept of patient capital.

At Acumen Fund, there is an undeniable sense of innovation, entrepreneurship, and inclusiveness that is encoded in the organization’s DNA. Conversations with Jacqueline Novogratz, Jo-Ann Tan, and other staff and chapter leaders in attendance revolved around leadership, building a deeper understanding of Acumen Fund’s vision, and scaling patient capital in our communities. In dozens of conversations over the weekend, a handful of fundamental questions surfaced: How can we take the values of Acumen Fund including moral leadership, dignity, generosity and accountability mainstream? How can we serve as a breeding ground for the idea of patient capital in our own communities? As leaders, how can we manage ambiguity and inspire others to contribute to social change?

The strategic alignment of the chapters to Acumen Fund’s vision was directly reflected in the “aha moments” of the last decade. The Investor’s Gathering on Nov 10th showcased snapshots of defining moments through stories and vivid images, depicting the evolution of the last decade of Acumen, the people behind it, the patient capital work, and the field. Lesson #4 of the 10 Things We Know to Be True seemed to encapsulate the vision of the community chapters. “We won’t succeed in the long term without cultivating local leaders, local money, and strong local communities.”

Acumen Fund chapters are self-organized, volunteer-led groups. We provide a platform in our respective communities for spreading Acumen Fund’s principles and its approach to help create a world beyond poverty, and through our activities, we cultivate leadership within our network of volunteers.  Our hallmark event, Dignity in a snapshot (next event is 12/1 in Toronto), is an example of an initiative which brings the community together around Acumen’s values and raises funds to support its mission. Going forward, the chapters are positioned to build local leaders, money, and communities around patient capital. Many chapters are already piloting initiatives to build robust local solutions with potential for long-term viability. The TORONTO+acumen and VANCOUVER+acumen chapters are piloting a venture network to identify a pipeline of noteworthy social enterprises in their communities. The TOKYO+acumen chapter is exploring ways to support a local nonprofit investing in small businesses in disaster-struck northern Japan on measurement frameworks such as GIIRS and IRIS.

As chapter leaders, we aim to take Acumen’s principles and ways of working to create a long-lasting impact on our communities. I look forward to next year’s chapter retreat to exchange ideas and build on our list of aha moments.


Elly Brown is a Project Consultant at Root Cause, a staff writer for NextBillion, and part of the leadership team for BOSTON+acumen, a volunteer-organized chapter supporting Acumen Fund’s mission.

Comments

Imagining the world as it could be

Christine Gitau is an East Africa Fellow and an enterprise coach at Craft Afrika, which provides business support services to craft entrepreneurs, enabling them build viable and thriving businesses in Kenya. At Acumen we often use the term “Moral Imagination” when talking about leadership. Christine wrote a reflection on how this concept has shifted her thinking. We could not be more proud of what she is building! [Read More]

How two Acumen Fellows are disrupting the education model in India

Whether its running youth soccer programs, providing vocational training services, or transforming the education system in India, Acumen India Fellows are driving real change in their communities.  Abbas Dadla and Abhilasha Sinha are India Fellows who are addressing the teacher shortage in India through the use of technology and peer collaboration. Find out what they are building below.  If you have grit, resilience and a commitment to creating change in your community in India, East Africa or Pakistan, we encourage you to apply for the Regional Fellowship Program! [Read More]

Meet Manjushree Patil, Founder of Aatman Academy

This month saw violent tragedies in Pakistan and Kenya, regions where Acumen works and which five classes of Acumen regional fellows call home. Among them there are dedicated teachers like Acumen India Fellow Manjushree Patil, crusaders against sex trafficking, builders of government, creators of liberating mobile medical technologies, and curators of slum sports programs. The need for strengthening the connections between those who are working for positive change against seemingly impossible odds has never been greater. We at Acumen have never been prouder to be the thread tying together these courageous individuals. Read more about Manjushree and how she is changing her community in India below! [Read More]

No, not silence again!

The Acumen Fellowship’s Cambridge Leadership Associates (CLA) training is notorious for digging deep, breaking Fellows down to reveal their deepest fears, identifying the sources of resilience that will fuel them with the tenacity to continue along the path to social change. Kahabi G. Isangula is an East Africa Regional Fellow living in Tanzania and recently participated in our CLA training. Get an idea of what it is like, below!  [Read More]

Announcing the Class of 2015 Acumen Global Fellows

Acumen Global Fellows are architects for the impact sector. They are innovators, game changers, visionaries, with various professional experiences looking to make substantial change in the world. They have thrived in companies such as Google; they have started their own companies in Sri Lanka, Canada and Malaysia.  They are choosing the challenge of working alongside our portfolio companies and immersing themselves in a rigorous leadership training. [Read More]

Welcoming Ajit Mahadevan as Acumen India Country Director

We are pleased to announce that Ajit Mahadevan will be joining Acumen as India Country Director. Ajit joins Acumen from Ernst & Young, where he has served as Advisory Partner & Leader (Life Sciences) for the past six years.  At EY, he was a strategic advisor to the leadership of some of the leading Indian and global life science and healthcare players with the focus being business transformation and growth.  Prior to his time at E&Y, Ajit was President of Piramal Healthcare, one of the leading pharmaceuticals companies in India, where he built the international business from inception in 2002 to $300M by the end of 2008. Ajit held multiple leadership roles across strategy, M&A and business leadership. During his tenure at Accenture’s Strategic Services practice in UK and India, he led the development of one of the firm’s largest and most successful internal projects – the Offshore Development Centre in 2001, which has now grown to about 100,000 people across multiple cities in India. Ajit has worked in an advisory capacity to Acumen in the past, most recently participating in Regional Fellows selection panels in Mumbai. [Read More]

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]