We won't succeed alone, which is why we share ideas that empower others to make change.

We are taking the very best ideas, distilled from more than a decade of investing in companies and leaders, and synthesizing and sharing them globally, so others can accelerate their impact. We know we don’t have all the answers, but hope what we share can push us to keep asking the right questions.

Explore Our Ideas

  • Close Drawer Solar-Aid-Energy

    The Economic Impact of Solar Lighting

    This report looks at the current demand for solar lights and the constraints which might limit their adoption, as well as the impact of owning... [READ MORE]

    This report looks at the current demand for solar lights and the constraints which might limit their adoption, as well as the impact of owning a light on the lives of rural households in Kenya.

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  • Close Drawer Women and Social Enterprises: How Gender Integration Can Boost Entrepreneurial Solutions to Poverty_i

    Women and Social Enterprises: How Gender Integration Can Boost Entrepreneurial Solutions to Poverty

    Our new report written with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) [READ MORE]

    Our new report written with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and produced in partnership with the Cartier Charitable Foundation, reveals findings from several case studies from Acumen’s portfolio of investments, which demonstrate how social enterprises are engaging and impacting women and where they fall short. The report also contains a new framework that outlines the ways in which gender can influence key business decisions.

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  • Close Drawer shutterstock_150483071

    Growing Prosperity: Developing Repeatable Models® to Scale the Adoption of agriculture innovations

    Our new report, written in conjunction with Bain & Company, and with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, unveils what is... [READ MORE]

    Our new report, written in conjunction with Bain & Company, and with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, unveils what is needed to truly scale agricultural innovations to reach millions of smallholder farmers.

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  • Close Drawer rice_burner_impact_investing_1-640x423

    Stanford Social Innovation Review: Closing the Pioneer Gap

    Winter 2013 Closing the Pioneer Gap By Sasha Dichter, Robert Katz, Harvey Koh, & Ashish Karamchandani More money than... [READ MORE]

    Winter 2013 Closing the Pioneer Gap
    By Sasha Dichter, Robert Katz, Harvey Koh, & Ashish Karamchandani

    More money than ever is flowing into impact investing, yet many entrepreneurs creating companies that serve the poor still find it difficult to raise capital, particularly at the early stages of their company’s growth.

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  • Close Drawer

    Innovation for the BoP

    November 2010 In this chapter from  [READ MORE]

    November 2010 In this chapter from Next Generation Business Strategies for the Base of the Pyramid, co-authors Robert Kennedy and Jacqueline Novogratz explain how social entrepreneurs and “philanthrocapitalists” are changing the BoP landscape by connecting innovative business approaches to “patient capital”—i.e., money that is expected to generate returns over a longer period than is typical of (say) venture capital. They identify four types of innovation that are proving critically important to success in operating in BoP markets, and show how a range of enterprises are applying these approaches in the field. The past decade has witnessed a revolution in thinking about how to address the persistent issue of poverty. Thoughtful observers in government, business, and nonprofits are moving beyond the old “markets versus development assistance” debate and are now converging on a new approach to addressing poverty.

    Click here to buy Next Generation Business Strategies for the Base of the Pyramid by Ted London and Stuart L Hart.

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  • Close Drawer Capital Curve - screenshot

    Creating a Capital Curve for Social Enterprises

    January 5, 2012. White paper published 2012 by Brian Trelstad and Robert Katz A key question many impact investors have... [READ MORE]

    January 5, 2012. White paper published 2012 by Brian Trelstad and Robert Katz

    A key question many impact investors have is how best to arrange the financing mix of the social businesses they support in order to achieve greatest possible impact. Acumen Fund has worked with thousands of social enterprises to help them scale their businesses. The chapter shares Acumen’s insight into how best to help social enterprises navigate the path towards scale and sustainability.

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  • Close Drawer 10years

    10 Things We've Learned About Tackling Global Poverty

    September 2011 Nothing about this work is easy. We are proud of our accomplishments over our first ten years, but we’ve learned... [READ MORE]

    September 2011 Nothing about this work is easy. We are proud of our accomplishments over our first ten years, but we’ve learned at least as much from our struggles along the way. While we know we don’t have all the answers, there are some important truths we have discovered in doing this work. These ten truths will guide our work in the next decade and beyond.

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  • Close Drawer esoko_original

    Innovations in Impact Measurement

    Lessons using mobile technology from Acumen’s Lean Data Initiative and Root Capital’s Client-Centric Mobile Measurement. [READ MORE]

    Lessons using mobile technology from Acumen’s Lean Data Initiative and Root Capital’s Client-Centric Mobile Measurement.

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  • Close Drawer Water Health International 1

    Social Enterprises and Global Corporations Collaborating for Growth With Impact

    Our new report, written in conjunction with Business Fights Poverty, reveals the diversity of corporate and social enterprise partnerships... [READ MORE]

    Our new report, written in conjunction with Business Fights Poverty, reveals the diversity of corporate and social enterprise partnerships that are emerging, the ways that different business drivers are influencing partnerships, and the kinds of challenges that are common.

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  • Close Drawer 1298_4

    Poverty Profile of Ziqitza's Clients

    August 2014 A report commissioned by Acumen to understand the poverty profile of ZHL’s clients in the states of Odisha (formerly... [READ MORE]

    August 2014 A report commissioned by Acumen to understand the poverty profile of ZHL’s clients in the states of Odisha
    (formerly Orissa) and Punjab using the Progress out of
    Poverty Index® in a call centre setting.

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  • Close Drawer bluesweater

    The Blue Sweater Teaching Guide

    September 2010 This teaching guide is designed to facilitate instruction of The Blue Sweater, the bestselling book... [READ MORE]

    September 2010 This teaching guide is designed to facilitate instruction of The Blue Sweater, the bestselling book by Acumen founder and CEO, Jacqueline Novogratz, by highlighting and organizing its key themes, summarizing each chapter, and providing suggested discussion questions. It also includes supplemental readings to broaden students’ understanding of leadership and development themes beyond the book.

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  • Close Drawer missionmarginmandate

    Mission, Margin, Mandate: Three paths to scale

    September 2011 MIT's Innovations Journal - SOCAP11: Impact Investing... [READ MORE]

    September 2011 MIT’s Innovations Journal – SOCAP11: Impact Investing Special Edition by Brian Trelstad and Robert Katz

    This paper argues that there are three paths to scale for a social enterprise – mission, margin, and mandate. The strategies needed, the time frames required, the management skills, and the sources of capital differ for each path. How do social enterprises navigate mission, margin, and mandate? What lessons can we learn from organizations that have achieved scale?

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  • Close Drawer baco

    The Best Available Charitable Option

    January 2007 Rather than seek an absolute standard for social return across an extremely diverse portfolio, Acumen looks to quantify... [READ MORE]

    January 2007 Rather than seek an absolute standard for social return across an extremely diverse portfolio, Acumen looks to quantify an investment’s social impact and compare it to the universe of existing charitable options for that explicit social issue. Specifically, this tool helps inform investors where their philanthropic capital will be most effective—answering the question “For each dollar invested, how much social output will this generate over the life of the investment relative to the best available charitable option?”

    This methodology, which we call the BACO ratio (for “best available charitable option”), is a useful starting point for assessing the social impact and cost-effectiveness of each of our investments. The point of the analysis is to inform our portfolio decision-making with a quantifiable indication of whether our social investment will “outperform” a plausible alternative.

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  • Close Drawer

    ABCs of Affordable Housing in Kenya

    We are living in a world where the majority of people live in cities and 1 billion live in slums, a figure that will double by 2030. Urban populations... [READ MORE]

    We are living in a world where the majority of people live in cities and 1 billion live in slums, a figure that will double by 2030. Urban populations are growing at a rate much faster than can be absorbed and managed, causing demands on services and infrastructure that massively outstrip supply. In many emerging market cities, this leaves the majority of residents with few options but to live in slums.

    Increasing access to high-quality affordable housing has a profound impact, both for the individual and society at large. Yet, housing is a challenging and capital-intensive sector characterized by delays and regulatory difficulties, and as a result, it rarely gains the limelight for impact investors and social entrepreneurs.

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