Press Releases


NRSP Launches Microfinance Bank in Partnership with Acumen Fund, IFC and KfW

Karachi, April 6, 2011 – The National Rural Support Programme (NRSP), the largest microfinance organization in Pakistan to focus on rural, agricultural markets, has launched a fully regulated, deposit-taking, privately-owned microfinance bank. The Bank has been awarded a license by the State Bank of Pakistan, the Central Bank, to operate nationwide. NRSP has partnered with Acumen Fund, International Finance Corporation and Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW) as shareholders in NRSP Microfinance Bank. Its mission is to reduce poverty by providing low income rural farmers with timely access to essential financial services such as crop and livestock loans on simple and affordable terms, as well as deposit products to encourage savings and to enable economic well-being.

“This $1.9 million investment is the latest in Acumen Fund’s expanding Pakistan portfolio and signals our continued commitment in the country to building transformative businesses that serve the poor for the long-term,” said Aun Rahman, Country Director of Acumen Fund Pakistan. “Acumen Fund continues to focus on scalable, innovative methods for providing resources, dignity and hope to the poor.”

Pakistan’s financial sector remains inaccessible to the majority of low income Pakistanis — an estimated 86% of the adult population has no access to formal financial services — but NRSP Bank is expected to reach nearly 625,000 borrowers nationwide over the next five years.

“NRSP Bank will provide access to financial services to small and poor farmers. This will enable them to mitigate against rising inflation and food prices.” said Dr. Rashid Bajwa, Chairman of NRSP Bank. “It will also help those struggling farmers affected by floods to restore their livelihoods and restore hope. The Bank is poised to be the first of its kind in Pakistan and the region.”

“Acumen Fund has been investing patient capital in Pakistan since 2002 in our effort to provide the critical goods and services that empower Pakistanis to improve the livelihoods of themselves and their families,” said Acumen Fund CEO, Jacqueline Novogratz. “Through the expansion of NRSP, Acumen aims to improve the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis.”


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]

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]

No, not silence again!

The Acumen Fellowship’s Cambridge Leadership Associates (CLA) training is notorious for digging deep, breaking Fellows down to reveal their deepest fears, identifying the sources of resilience that will fuel them with the tenacity to continue along the path to social change. Kahabi G. Isangula is an East Africa Regional Fellow living in Tanzania and recently participated in our CLA training. Get an idea of what it is like, below!  [Read More]

Announcing the Class of 2015 Acumen Global Fellows

Acumen Global Fellows are architects for the impact sector. They are innovators, game changers, visionaries, with various professional experiences looking to make substantial change in the world. They have thrived in companies such as Google; they have started their own companies in Sri Lanka, Canada and Malaysia.  They are choosing the challenge of working alongside our portfolio companies and immersing themselves in a rigorous leadership training. [Read More]