Press Releases

Acumen Fund Invests in Circ MedTech, Developer of Breakthrough Innovation in HIV Prevention

Capital to Support Scale Up of PrePex™, Non-Surgical Adult Male Circumcision Device

Acumen Fund, a nonprofit global venture firm addressing poverty in South Asia and East Africa, today announced an investment in Circ MedTech, the developer of PrePex, a new and innovative device that facilitates the rapid scale-up of male circumcision (“MC”) as a means to stop the spread of HIV in high risk areas. The capital investment will help bolster Circ MedTech’s preparations for region-wide adoption of MC in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“For almost a decade, Acumen Fund has been investing patient capital in innovative enterprises that are leading their respective industries and improving the lives of millions of people around the world,” said Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO, Acumen Fund. “Circ MedTech is one of these extraordinary businesses with the potential to decrease the rapid transmission of HIV in African countries where the disease has and continues to claim countless lives. By leveraging our capital, experience and global footprint, Circ MedTech will have the capacity to support broad implementation of this lifesaving device.”

In 2007, the World Health Organization (“WHO”) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (“UNAIDS”) began advocating MC as a preventive means of fighting HIV transmission after studies found that the procedure can reduce the lifetime risk of infection by between 50 and 71%. Campaigns for adult MC have thus been launched in numerous countries, including many Sub-Saharan nations, where over 22 million of the 33.4 million infected with HIV reside. Countries have struggled, however, with providing a safe, accessible and cost-effective procedure for adult MC. Surgical methods have been much less scalable, requiring surgeons or highly skilled medical cadres, surgery-type settings and expensive tools, materials and infrastructure, all difficult to access in rural areas where these services are most needed.

Founded in 2009, Circ MedTech is a for-profit social enterprise that developed PrePex, a disposable device for adult MC that empowers even minimally-skilled healthcare workers in resource-limited settings to safely and effectively perform the procedure. The procedure is completely bloodless and requires no injected anesthesia, no knives, no sutures and no sterile settings – a radical breakthrough in adult MC.

“We created the PrePex device to address the need for safe, simple, scalable and affordable male circumcision programs in Africa,” said Circ MedTech CEO Tzameret Fuerst. “Acumen Fund’s investment will enable us to create the supporting infrastructure to meet the demand of tens of millions of male circumcisions required over the next 3-5 years in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, helping to save countless lives.”

Elaborate studies conducted by the Government of Rwanda over the past year, based on the WHO’s suggested evaluation framework, have validated the safety, efficacy and supremacy of the device over surgical techniques. The PrePex device makes it possible for Rwandan health authorities to implement a nationwide, voluntary MC program capable of reaching 2 million men within 2 years. Scaled-up use of the PrePex device at that level would make Rwanda’s goal of cutting its HIV incidence rate in half attainable.

UNAIDS Chief Michel Sidibe, who witnessed how the device is used during a recent trip to a Rwandan hospital, says it heralds a revolution in the global fight against HIV.

The patent pending PrePex device utilizes a special elastic mechanism that stops the flow of blood to the unwanted skin. Within a week, the device, along with the necrotized skin, is easily and safely removed. Patients’ daily routines go uninterrupted during the whole procedure. The device is single-use and disposable, and has a CE Mark, clearing it for marketing in the European Union.


A Cleaner Path: Solar Energy’s Impact on Health

Imagine for a moment that the light used in your home was a poison. One that could damage your lungs, irritate your eyes, even impact the health of your unborn child. You’d think twice about flicking on that switch. Kerosene lamps—used by an estimated 290 million people across Africa—contribute to household air pollution. Such pollution is responsible for more deaths a year than tuberculosis, malaria and HIV combined. [Read More]

Acumen Hosts Workshop on Building High-Impact Partnerships at Skoll World Forum

Acumen, with support from EY, Sainsbury’s, Pfizer, and the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, is hosting their second Beyond Dialogue workshop today as a part of the Skoll World Forum. The event, Beyond Dialogue: Three Models for High Impact Collaboration, will bring together leading global corporations, innovative social enterprises, experts and intermediaries to work together to uncover new knowledge and opportunities to partner. [Read More]

Day 2 Recap: AcumenGG17

As morning broke on Day Two, the grounds of the Great Rift Valley Lodge & Resort were dotted with Good Society groups. Cohorts joined together, bringing a diversity of perspectives, for revelatory, at times tough, but ultimately enriching discussions built around Ursula Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” and Yunus Emre’s “The Drop That Became the Sea.” [Read More]

Day 1 Recap: AcumenGG17

It only seemed fitting that the Global Gathering kicked off with the vibrant colors and electric rhythms of East Africa. Adorned in Maasai cloths, the East Africa Fellows—with some help from the Global Fellows—set the tone for a day of nonstop energy and inspiring conversation. [Read More]

What Women Can Do

In these uncertain times, when progress towards a more just world sometimes seems to be slowing, or even reversing its course, I often ask myself the question, what can I do? It’s easy to feel small or isolated in the face of so many challenges, many of which seem to have escalated over the past few months. [Read More]

Lighting the Way: A Look at Solar Energy’s Impact on Poverty Alleviation

In the last decade, solar lanterns have emerged as a clean, cost-effective solution to provide access to modern energy to the 1.2 billion people currently living off-grid. These small, portable and rechargeable lights fulfill an immediate need for the poor and, as a result, have become increasingly widespread in countries across Africa, South Asia and beyond. They are affordable, easy to use and require little maintenance. And for families who’ve become accustomed to life stopping when the sun sets, a solar lantern can mean hours of light to enjoy dinner together, do homework for class tomorrow, or keep a business open a little later. [Read More]