THE AMBITION TO LEARN AT THE EDGE
Our companies have improved the lives of more than 100 million people around the world, have created or supported tens of thousands of jobs providing income and skills training in the markets we serve, and are beginning to show what is possible in solving the world’s most intractable problems.
Every investment we make has the goal of creating outsized social impact. The headlines are too familiar: billions of people without access to clean drinking water, a safe place to live, high quality healthcare, or reliable and affordable electricity to enhance productivity. Billions. We bring patient capital to solve some of the world’s toughest problems head-on, and our most important scorecard is impact.
Ultimately our goal is to know with rigor the change in the lives of the poorest our investments catalyze; to understand our successes and failures; and to provide transparency for investors and organizations looking to maximize the social impact that their philanthropic and investment capital can make.
Acumen’s metrics framework is designed to tackle difficult questions – how do we know whether the health clinic we have invested in is truly reaching the poor? How do we measure our financial and social returns against other investors in the sector? How can we judge when an investment has achieved scale and is truly transformational? Are we making a material impact on our mission to change the way the world tackles poverty?
By evaluating financial, operational, and social metrics, including environmental impact, across our portfolio, our approach to impact measurement begins from the moment we start analyzing a new investment opportunity and ends when we share our results and benchmark our performance against industry peers.
LEADING THE FIELD AND BUILDING INFRASTRUCTURE
Early in our efforts to measure impact we recognized the importance of talking the same language with our peers and donors, and our efforts to achieve this have led the sector. We have been a field-builder in developing infrastructure that has allowed for greater standardization and comparison of performance.
With the support of key partners and the input of the impact investing community, we developed a set of industry standards called the Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS), We also helped found the Aspen Network for Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) and the Global Impact Investing Initiative Network (GIIN), and, in partnership with Google and Salesforce, we created the PULSE software platform for metrics collection. PULSE currently allows us to collect data on around 95% of Acumen’s active investments on a monthly basis, and we are working hard to get to 100%.
JUST GETTING STARTED
Although we have demonstrated that our investments can scale and improve tens of millions of lives in the poorest parts of the world, we know that there is more work to do. We must ask tougher questions with conviction, knowing that the answers will take time and knowing also that we need the wisdom to admit failure, and the courage to start again.
Our work in reporting and measuring the social impact of our work continues to evolve, as we do. As we build new infrastructure and make further breakthroughs we are committed to sharing what we are learning. You can keep abreast of these innovations and other news on Acumen by joining our worldwide community. Click here to learn how you can get involved.