Acumen Blog

DART - from vestergaard frandsen

World Malaria Day 2012: The Next Generation of Anti-Malarial Efforts

In honor of World Malaria Day, we wanted to shine a spotlight on one of our investees working on malaria control. Malaria remains a life-threatening disease, still taking the lives of approximately 655,000 people a year, mostly African children. In 2009, Acumen Fund made an investment in Durable Activated Residual Textiles (DART), which is developing an insecticide-treated wall lining for the interior of homes. This innovation in malaria prevention is currently being tested for application across multiple malaria infected regions, including Kenya and Liberia.

The success of durable wall-lining has been striking and shows great promise. When used as a complement to insecticide treated mosquito nets and in place of Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), these wall linings have been proven to reduce the number of mosquitoes throughout thousands of homes in western Kenya and reduce incidence of malaria.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, malaria prevalence in Kenyan homes that used a combination of nets and wall lining was a lower rate of 61% in the following six months, compared to 70% in those homes that received nets alone.

However, the benefits of this new approach go beyond increased protection. Lasting for 4 to 5 years, durable wall linings provide additional security for those who do not regularly sleep under bed nets, or for the many customers who improperly use them. Durable wall-lining installation may be considerably more cost-effective too, not requiring skilled labor for spraying houses once (or more) a year. Even from a practical perspective, it would be more appealing to put up aesthetically-pleasing wallpaper once every five years compared to having your possessions taken out of your house for it to be sprayed. And let’s not underestimate the importance of a product that is aesthetically-pleasing; to people living in houses built with brown clay, mud and sticks, having beautified interior decorating makes as much a difference in a malaria prevention product as the actual effectiveness against malaria itself.

What makes DART’s innovation so powerful and widely appealing for customers is that it combines the best from traditional bed nets and the best from IRS, while addressing the downsides of both: compared to IRS, durable wall-lining requires significantly less skilled labor and lasts four times as long, and unlike bed nets it does not require any major change in customer behavior.

To help develop the next generation of malaria prevention, DART is working with global public health organizations to address the sector-wide insecticide resistance challenges facing malaria prevention approaches around the world. DART was created in 2009 through a joint venture with Acumen Fund, the global malaria expert and social entrepreneur, Richard Allan and Vestergaard Frandsen, a pioneering European firm that specializes in developing emergency response and disease control products.

For the millions of people living in malaria endemic areas, innovations such as this wall lining and the possibility of a new class of effective insecticides have the potential to transform their lives. This unique joint venture, which brings together a variety of stakeholders to produce an innovative and high quality product, will result in improvements in their health outcomes and the many benefits that improved health can bring.

Vinay Nair represents Acumen Fund on DART’s Board of Directors.

Elizabeth Patella is a Communications Manager at Acumen Fund


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]

Welcoming Ajit Mahadevan as Acumen India Country Director

We are pleased to announce that Ajit Mahadevan will be joining Acumen as India Country Director. Ajit joins Acumen from Ernst & Young, where he has served as Advisory Partner & Leader (Life Sciences) for the past six years.  At EY, he was a strategic advisor to the leadership of some of the leading Indian and global life science and healthcare players with the focus being business transformation and growth.  Prior to his time at E&Y, Ajit was President of Piramal Healthcare, one of the leading pharmaceuticals companies in India, where he built the international business from inception in 2002 to $300M by the end of 2008. Ajit held multiple leadership roles across strategy, M&A and business leadership. During his tenure at Accenture’s Strategic Services practice in UK and India, he led the development of one of the firm’s largest and most successful internal projects – the Offshore Development Centre in 2001, which has now grown to about 100,000 people across multiple cities in India. Ajit has worked in an advisory capacity to Acumen in the past, most recently participating in Regional Fellows selection panels in Mumbai. [Read More]