Remarkable People


ANDE Training Brings Together Organizations Serving SGBs

TechnoServe VP for Development Simon Winter speaks at ANDE training. (Photo by Brian Murray)

Last week, along with 40-plus other participants, the Acumen Fund summer associates participated in an energetic and informational training session run by the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE).  ANDE is a member-driven organization whose goal is to dramatically increase the effectiveness of capital and technical assistance for entrepreneurs in developing countries.  This training was a definitive step towards that goal.

For the second year in a row, ANDE has organized this training along with Acumen Fund, Root Capital, Grassroots Business Fund, Endeavor and many other members of ANDE.  With the exploding interest in supporting Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs) as a means of alleviating poverty, the importance of coordinating and connecting those entering the field has never been more critical.  Not only was the training immensely important to developing relationships across organizations; it also provided a forum to share best practices and to promote innovative thinking.

The two-day seminar was packed with a discussion of different business models, presentations on social metrics and hands-on case studies.  As if any of the graduate-level interns needed more motivation heading into the sector, the opportunity to hear from amazing speakers such as Christine Eibs Singer from E+Co, Brian Midler and Namrita Kapur from Root Capital, Susie Lee from IGNIA, Raj Kundra, Sasha Dichter and Ann MacDougall from Acumen Fund, Simon Winter and Jennifer Golden from TechnoServe, Ben Powell and Ricardo Teran from Agora Partnerships was inspirational.

I was uplifted to meet our peers who are now heading into the field to countries such as Pakistan, Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana, Nicaragua and Guatemala. In particular, I was humbled and inspired by their backgrounds, skill sets and demonstrated passion for the work we will be undertaking.   I hope that this foundation of collaboration is something we all push to continue beyond the training amongst ourselves and by including more people interested in the sector.

My personal highlights were:

  • Sasha Dichter’s non-profit Venn Diagram
  • Learning more about the Global Impact Investing Network and its mission to educate and drive more investors into the sector
  • Quote to inspire by Ben Powell of Agora Partnerships:
    Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success

    ~ Sir Ernest Shackleton’s trans-Antarctic expedition recruitment advertisement

Although not exactly applicable to those of us heading out into the field (safe return = certain), it is a reminder that we all need support, encouragement and community to help us through the hard times when things don’t seem possible and barriers appear impassable.  I’m confident coming out of this training that this community is stronger than ever and I look forward to contributing.

For those of you who were at the training, please feel free to share your highlights in the comments section!


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]