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!


Reflections on the India Fellows Seminar

Each year, the India Fellows Program brings together up to 20 emerging leaders from different regions, sectors, and socio-economic backgrounds in India. During the fellowship year, Fellows remain in their jobs and meet every 6-8 weeks throughout the year for 4 seminars and 2 collaborative projects, each about a week long. As the India Fellows Associate, Jacqui is responsible for supporting all aspects of the program recruitment, logistics, marketing and strategic planning. Below, Jacqui reflects on the first seminar, Foundations of Leadership. You can read more about the fellowship program here[Read More]

Adaptive Leadership in Action: Addressing Cultural Norms & Giving Women a Voice

In the fall of 2013, +Acumen launched the course Adaptive Leadership: Mobilizing for Change in partnership with the Cambridge Leadership Associates. This course is for anyone who wants to become more effective at leading their organization through change. Below, one of the course participants shared her story about how this course impacted her work and ability to affect change. [Read More]

Making Sense of Social Impact in Action: The Value of Educating Our Youth

At Acumen, one of the most common questions we get is how we measure social impact. Our newest +Acumen course – Making Sense of Social Impact: Acumen’s Building Blocks for Impact Analysis. – will provide an entry point for how to think about impact and we’ll share frameworks that help us define what to measure and why. Makoto Matsuura, founder of cobon a not-for-profit focused on youth education in Jakarta, Indonesia and Osaka, Japan, took a pilot version of this course and shared his reflections with us. [Read More]

Good news for philanthropists in the U.K. and Europe

We are excited to announce that Acumen now holds a CAF Charitable Trust in the United Kingdom. CAF, the Charities Aid Foundation, is a registered U.K. charity. By donating to Acumen through CAF, you can use Gift Aid if the amount of Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax you’ve paid for the tax year in which you make your donation is at least equal to the amount of basic rate tax  [the charity or Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) and any other charities or CASCs] you donate to will reclaim on your gift. CAF will reclaim 25% Gift Aid from HM Revenue & Customs and pass this through to Acumen.  The donor can claim higher rate tax relief (for more information, please refer to CAF’s online resource, What Is Gift Aid?). [Read More]

d.light Leaders Named 2014 Social Entrepreneurs of the Year

We are thrilled for our portfolio company d.light and Donn Tice, Chairman and CEO, along with cofounders Ned Tozun, President, and Sam Goldman, Chief Customer Officer, for being named Social Entrepreneurs of the year 2014 by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. d.light is a for-profit social enterprise that manufactures and distributes solar lighting and power products with primary markets in the developing world, today announced that d.light, along with 37 other individuals and organizations in the 2014 class, will be fully integrated into the events and initiatives of the World Economic Forum. [Read More]