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.”


Why India’s Economic Growth Depends on Vocational Training

India has an enormous population of young people – over half of the 1.2 billion people are younger than 25 years old. Yet, only 2% of its 500 million person workforce has any skills or training. The majority work in the informal sector (90%), where there are few opportunities for education other than what workers ‘pick up’ on the job. This reality limits overall productivity, as well as upward mobility. [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]


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]