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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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Announcing a New Investment: SolarNow

Acumen is pleased to announce a $1.4 million investment in SolarNow, a company that sells and finances solar home systems in Uganda. We sat down with Shuaib Siddiqui, Acumen’s Portfolio Director to learn more about the deal and why he’s excited about this innovative company. [Read More]

Letter from Jacqueline: My Week in Ghana

I am writing on a return flight from Ghana. The country has not seen a single case of Ebola, yet the impact of fear is profound. As travelers enter the country, attendants screen for high temperatures. Hand sanitizer dispensers are omnipresent. Hotels and conferences have seen massive cancellations. Everywhere are constant reminders of our fragility and the strength of our connectedness. [Read More]

Six online courses we’re taking this year

+Acumen’s free online courses are a great way to learn tools that will help you develop both professionally and personally. Whether you are a social entrepreneur who wants to market to your customers or a young professional that wants to strengthen your leadership skills, we are offering six courses this Fall that will help you develop the tools, knowledge, and networks to change the way the world tackles poverty. [Read More]

Four Emerging Leaders Building the Future of Pakistan

With 60% of Pakistan’s population living under less than a dollar a day, the external narrative of Pakistan is characterised by what the country lacks; a lack of security, a lack of women’s rights, a lack of access to education, and the list goes on. What this narrative ignores are the individuals who work tirelessly to plug those gaps. From human rights to education to food security, Acumen Pakistan Fellows are affecting change through organizations committed to tackling poverty. Their work is truly inspiring, promising a hopeful future for Pakistan. Here are four fellows that are building this future for Pakistan and come together periodically to share learning experiences and grow as leaders. Through five seminars, the fellows have strengthened skills of adaptability, communication, empathy and problem solving through listening. If you are committed to creating change in your community, apply now to be an Acumen Pakistan Fellow. The deadline is 29 September. [Read More]

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]

DE-BUNKING THE BURDEN MYTH: IMPACT DATA GOES LEAN

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]