Press Releases


Acumen Fund Launches WMD

World Watches in Shock and Awe

Mark your calendars: June 16 (tomorrow) is World Metrics Day! Our declaration of an official World Metrics Day (or WMD, as we’ve been calling it) is a little (well, actually, a lot) tongue in cheek, but Acumen Fund’s commitment to metrics is absolutely serious. Figuring out how to measure social impact has long been a challenge for philanthropists, social investors, practitioners and the development sector. Our focus has been on finding ways to collect, understand and use data to (1) best support the enterprises in which we invest, (2) improve how Acumen Fund works and (3) create common measures for the sector – in that order of importance. (We’ve blogged here before about metrics, on what we like to call cost effective cost effectiveness and our best available charitable option methodology.)

If you follow our work, you know that we’ve been developing a platform called Pulse, discussed in BusinessWeek and The New York Times when it was announced last fall at the Clinton Global Initiative. Pulse helps social investors track, measure, and evaluate operational data to understand whether different approaches to solving the problems of global poverty are working. Although originally designed as a tool to help us manage our own portfolio, we’ve been working with to make it available for adoption by peer organizations and to share data across the sector. We have also been collaborating with the Rockefeller Foundation, B-Lab, Deloitte and PwC to develop standard definitions of social and environmental performance that can enable comparability across portfolios (for more on this, see About forty organizations are currently testing Pulse, which we expect to be widely available to nonprofits later this year.

We chose June 16 as World Metrics Day for three reasons. First, last year on June 16th we convened a number of our partners and leading thinkers on the topic at the Rockefeller Foundation to map out our current strategy, and we are simply taking stock of where we have come in the year. Second, it’s Bloomsday, a day notable for its devotees’ commitment (obsession?) to a singular topic, perhaps the least linear novel ever written (Joyce’s Ulysses). Finally, it happens to be my father’s birthday (happy birthday, Dad!). My father is a pathologist and the naming of Pulse was inspired by the autopsy metaphor. Most measurement and evaluation in the social sector is like an autopsy: intrusive, inconclusive and too late to help. We wanted to build a metrics practice that could take the “pulse” of our investments, with simple but meaningful measures that can help us make course corrections real time.

So we will be spending the day thinking about and talking about and, indeed, celebrating metrics. Celebrate with us — June 16 is the first annual World Metrics Day. Remember, count something. and make it count!

Updated 6/18/2009 – thanks to Sara Olsen of SVT Consulting for her great blog post over at Social Edge on World Metrics Day. Count what counts, Sara!


Acumen Partners with AlphaSights to Better Access Global Expertise

In our work investing in social enterprises that deliver critical goods to the poor, there is a substantial amount of work to evaluate each investment opportunity. A critical part of the diligence process, particularly when it comes to emerging markets, is speaking with industry experts who can provide reliable information about sector trends, market dynamics and public policy – all of which affect our evaluation of potential investment opportunities. [Read More]


Our manifesto begins, “it starts by standing with the poor.” Yet for good reasons, the sector has found it challenging to measure which customers are actually being served through social impact investments – getting accurate data on incomes is notoriously difficult and the logistical challenge and cost of conducting surveys in person prohibitive. [Read More]

Questions for Aspiring Leaders

Bavidra Mohan, Acumen’s India Fellows Manager, attended this years Aspen IDEAS festival as a Scholar. The Scholarship program was established to invite guests from around the world to bring a diverse set of experiences, voices and perspectives to the rich conversations that take place at the IDEAS festival each year. [Read More]

Give Impact Investing Time and Space to Develop

Impact investing has captured the world’s imagination. Just six years after the Rockefeller Foundation coined the term, the sector is booming. An estimated 250 funds are actively raising capital in a market that the Global Impact Investing Network estimates at $25 billion. Giving Pledge members described impact investing as the “hottest topic” at their May 2012 meeting, and Prime Minister David Cameron extolled the potential of the sector at the most recent G8 summit.  Sir Ronald Cohen and HBS Professor William A. Sahlman describe impact investing as the new venture capital, implying that it will, in the next 5 to 10 years, make its way into mainstream financial portfolios, unlocking billions or trillions of dollars in new capital. [Read More]

10 Books We’re Reading This Summer

What are you reading? It is a common question here at Acumen, an organization full of avid readers constantly trading favorite book titles that discuss leadership, impact, development and branding. Here are 10 stellar books we’re reading this summer. These books and others provide a framework of thinking, a spark of new ideas, a platform for debate. So, what are you reading? [Read More]

How Acumen Brought Back my Fire

Eda is an East Africa Regional Fellow from Nairobi, Kenya and is the Founder and Director of Halisi Trust, an organization that seeks to challenge the vices that plague society and encourage transformational development in Kenya’s youth. When Eda applied for the East Africa Fellows Program, she felt disillusioned and stuck. Below, Eda discusses how Acumen’s Regional Fellowship Program brought back her fire. Now, Eda has engaged nearly 6,000 people through outreach events and the Mkenya Halisi movement continues to grow. Acumen is currently accepting applications for the next class of East Africa Fellows. APPLY TODAY! [Read More]

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]