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Investor Gathering 2008: Tip of the Iceberg

Yesterday, Acumen Fund hosted its annual Investor Gathering at the Rubin Museum of Art. More than 125 partners and advisors gathered to get the inside scoop on Acumen’s operations over the past year and our goals for 2009. Personally, the Investor Gathering prompted more than a little deja vu.

While I joined Acumen Fund’s staff only 8 months back, this was not my first Investor Gathering. Last year, while a staff member at the World Resources Institute, I had the opportunity to attend both the IG and Acumen’s Celebration. So much has changed since – personally, professionally, and in the world at large – that it’s hard to believe the 2007 Investor Gathering was only a year ago.

So – back to my deja vu. I spent a few minutes today looking at my notes from last year’s gathering – which I wrote about on NextBillion.net. Katherine Fulton spoke of “Acumen’s Moment”; Jacqueline, Brian, Yasmina and others told us how the vision of capital, knowledge and talent were being put into practice; the 2008 Fellows blew away the crowd with their inspiring spoken-word performance.

A year later, I sat in on similar presentations, but this time, from an insider’s perspective. While it was different, much was the same. We heard how Acumen Fund’s strategy of investing in entrepreneurs to solve the problems of poverty is working (and not). We heard how the portfolios are expanding and changing, and we heard how geopolitical realities – post-election riots in Kenya, economic crisis in Pakistan, financial meltdowns in the United States – impact Acumen Fund’s current and future plans.

I have 7+ pages of notes from the Investor Gathering, which I will turn into a series of blog posts as soon as I’m able. Yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out, but I have an excuse: tomorrow, the entire Acumen Fund team – colleagues from Pakistan, India, Kenya and New York – will begin a 2-day, off-site staff retreat to continue building strategies that will bring critical goods and services to the poor while enhancing the dignity and human spirit of every human being. No blogging allowed.

Stay tuned – this is only the tip of the iceberg.

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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]