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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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Warning: Fake internship post on WhatsApp in our name in East Africa

It has come to our attention that an anonymous source in the East Africa region is soliciting individuals over social media and WhatsApp to provide personal information to apply for an Acumen paid internship. THIS IS A SCAM. The false solicitation includes a link to a Google form asking for personal and sensitive information, which could easily be used for identity theft; you should NOT submit any information through the provided links over social media. PLEASE BE CAREFUL and if you have already submitted information, consider taking steps to protect your information and identity. If you are interested in Acumen, opportunities are posted on our website at www.acumen.org, which is Acumen’s primary channel for recruiting. [Read More]

Solar Home Systems: Over-investment or overvaluation?

When you hear the term “unicorn,” you usually think of Silicon Valley. Your mind goes to companies like AirBnB and Snapchat, startups that seem to grow from zero to $1 billon overnight, not to social enterprises trying to bring energy to the poor. But we’re seeing a trend emerge in the off-grid sector, in which some young solar home system companies are being overvalued before they’ve had a chance to prove themselves. [Read More]

Skills Partnerships: Start with Listening

The relationship between the social sector and the corporate world is complex. Skills Partnerships have emerged as a way of engaging both sectors. This form of engagement may have started with activities like leveraging a corporation’s expansive workforce to build a house for the homeless or help underprivileged students with their resumes, but it has since evolved to include highly skilled workers sharing their expertise with all types of organizations. [Read More]

ANDREA SOROS COLOMBEL RETURNS TO ACUMEN’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS

We are thrilled to announce Andrea Soros Colombel’s return to Acumen’s Board of Directors. Andrea played an integral role in the development of Acumen as a Founding Partner in 2001, then deepening her commitment by serving on the Board from 2005 to 2014. During that time, she helped shepherd a number of major projects at Acumen, including the inception of our portfolio of off-grid energy companies. Andrea has returned to the Board after three years and we welcome her thoughtful leadership and generous support. [Read More]

Models of High-Level Partnerships with Social Enterprises: Venture Partnerships

How can corporations and social enterprises partner to create a world that works for everyone? On April 4, 2017, Acumen hosted a workshop on high-impact partnerships for leading social enterprises, global corporations, and the organizations that work to link them as a part of the Skoll World Forum Ecosystem Events, to explore this question. Supported by EY, Sainsbury’s, Pfizer and the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, the session explored three different kinds of partnerships: Skills, Channel and Venture. [Read More]

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]