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


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]

Give Impact Investing Time and Space to Develop

Impact investing has captured the world’s imagination. Just six years after the Rockefeller Foundation coined the term, the sector is booming. An estimated 250 funds are actively raising capital in a market that the Global Impact Investing Network estimates at $25 billion. Giving Pledge members described impact investing as the “hottest topic” at their May 2012 meeting, and Prime Minister David Cameron extolled the potential of the sector at the most recent G8 summit.  Sir Ronald Cohen and HBS Professor William A. Sahlman describe impact investing as the new venture capital, implying that it will, in the next 5 to 10 years, make its way into mainstream financial portfolios, unlocking billions or trillions of dollars in new capital. [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]