OUR TIMELINE
OTHER WAYS TO GIVE

WHAT WE’VE ACCOMPLISHED

Acumen Fund is creating a world beyond poverty by investing in social enterprises, emerging leaders and breakthrough ideas.


Tens of millions of lives

Our companies have touched the lives of tens of millions of people. From ambulances to electricity, we have $81 million of approved investments in 72 breakthrough enterprises that serve the poor.

SEE HOW OUR
MODEL WORKS

Video
return to grid

  • Health

    Health Icon

    $29 Million in
    26 Companies

    Dial 1298


    514 ambulances
    210,000 emergency responses

    Ziqitza Healthcare’s Dial 1298 for Ambulance fleet has grown from 10 ambulances in Mumbai to 514 across India, with plans to scale to 1,000 by 2014.


  • Energy

    Energy Icon

    $11.7 Million in
    11 Companies

    d.light design


    3 million people
    with access to safe solar lighting

    d.light design’s solar powered lights displace kerosene lamps, which are dirty, dangerous and expensive.


  • Agriculture

    Agriculture Icon

    $17 Million in
    11 Companies

    Global Easy Water Products (GEWP)


    330,000 drip irrigation units sold

    Tens of thousands of farming families in India are benefiting from increased crop yields and income thanks to GEWP’s drip irrigation systems.


  • Water

    Water Icon

    $7.9 Million in
    9 Companies

    WaterHealth International (WHI)


    400 water plants
    500,000 daily customers

    WHI operates community water systems across India that provide 500,000 customers with safe water daily.


  • Housing

    Housing Icon

    $7.7 Million in
    9 Companies

    Saiban & AMC


    30,000 people in safe communities

    In Pakistan, Saiban's affordable housing units are providing families with thriving communities. AMC, a spinoff of Saiban founded by Jawad Aslam, is looking to scale affordable housing across Pakistan for tens of thousands of families.


  • Education

    Education Icon

    $1 Million in
    2 Companies

    NEW!
    Hippocampus Learning Centres


    Our first investment in Education, Hippocampus Learning Centres aims to address the growing demand for quality education in rural India.

    Housing
  • Health Health
  • Energy Energy
  • Agriculture Agriculture
  • Water Water
  • Housing Housing
  • Education Education

Our Global Footprint

Our offices in India, Pakistan, East Africa, West Africa, supported by our global team in New York, drive our investing work with strong local teams that find, assess, and provide management assistance to our companies. Each office is supported by an advisory board and, increasingly, local funding to create strong institutions in each of the regions where we operate.

72

ENTERPRISES

$81

MILLION PORTFOLIO

55,000

JOBS CREATED AND SUPPORTED

86

MILLION LIVES IMPACTED

  • East Africa
  • West Africa
  • Coming soon
  • Pakistan
  • India
  • <

    East Africa

    $18.7M, 18 enterprises

    Learn More

    Nairobi, Kenya office est. 2007

  • <

    West Africa

    $4.0M, 3 enterprises

    Learn More

    Accra, Ghana office est. 2012

  • <

    Global Investments

    $18.2M, 13 enterprises
    Investments managed out of the New York office.

  • <

    Pakistan

    $14.9M, 13 enterprises

    Learn More

    Karachi, Pakistan office est. 2006

  • <

    India

    $21.6M, 20 enterprises

    Learn More

    Office est. in Hyderabad in 2006

    Office moved to Mumbai in 2011

LEADERSHIP
FOR A NEW WORLD

Creating a world beyond poverty will take all of us – an interconnected community of global citizens equipped with the moral leadership to meet the complex challenges of our time.

 

Acumen Fund is building a global ecosystem of leaders who share common values, have the hard skills to produce results, and possess a deep commitment to creating a more inclusive world.

ACUMEN FUND FELLOWS

The Global Fellows Program is a one-year immersion in leadership development beginning with two months of training in New York, followed by nine month placements with our investees. Since 2006, we’ve had 44 Fellows from 19 countries.

Our East Africa Fellows Program was launched in 2011 with 20 Fellows driving groundbreaking projects within existing companies and as entrepreneurs. We plan to launch Regional Fellows Programs in all our geographies in coming years.

  • 2006
  • 2012
  • 2015
GLOBAL FELLOWS
REGIONAL FELLOWS

In 2006 Acumen had 7 Global Fellows…
 

  • >

    Jocelyn Wyatt

    Jocelyn currently leads IDEO's domain around design for social impact. As a Fellow, she worked in Kenya with Advanced Bio-Extracts (ABE), a leading manufacturer and cultivator of artemisinin, a key ingredient in the most effective treatment against malaria. Jocelyn supported ABE's second round of financing and growth by constructing financial models, reports and projections for the management team; developing standardized operating procedures; and sourcing potential investors.

Currently we have 44 Global Fellows and 20 Regional Fellows.
 

  • >

    Jawad Aslam

    Jawad is currently working with Ansaar Management Company, which provides low incoming housing in Lahore, Pakistan. AMC is a for-profit spin off of Saiban, and has received investments from Acumen Fund and Bamboo Finance, and will focus on scaling low-income housing in Pakistan. As a Fellow, Jawad worked to scale the activities of Saiban, a non-profit housing organization providing urban squatters and low-income groups in Pakistan with access to affordable home ownership and essential amenities.

  • >

    Tricia Morente

    Tricia is currently working at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Delhi, India, on a project to improve financial access to healthcare. She was formerly the Head of Marketing & Strategy for LifeSpring Hospitals, which is also where Tricia worked as a Fellow. LifeSpring is a chain of hospitals that provides quality health care to lower-income women and children in India.

  • >

    Catherine Casey

    Catherine is currently West Africa Manager at Acumen Fund, where she is s responsible for launching Acumen Fund’s presence in the region, with a focus in Ghana and Nigeria. As a Fellow, Catherine worked in Kenya with the Sustainable Healthcare Foundation (SHF), which provides micro-franchise healthcare and drug distribution in Nairobi. Her efforts were focused on helping SHF franchisees reach profitability and to improve their systems for data collection and management.

  • >

    Nicole Orillac

    Nicole currently works for Global Citizen Year, a program that immerses high school graduates in developing nations to live and work on the frontlines of today's global challenges during a gap year before college. As a Fellow, Nicole worked in India with AyurVAID, a patient-centric hospital chain with a standardized approach to delivering safe, effective, and, affordable care to poor communities in India. She helped develop processes and systems for managing relationships with network hospitals and partners.

  • >

    Ram Hariharan

    Ramakrishnan currently works for Bridge Academies International, which establishes private schools for Kenya's poor. As a Fellow, Ramakrishnan worked in Kenya with Meridian Medical Centre, whose vision is to establish a chain of affordable, high quality outpatient clinics across Kenya. At Meridian, Ramakrishnan helped to develop expansion plans, opened a new branch outlet for services, and supported the development of a branding and marketing strategy to attract and retain new business.

  • >

    Suraj Sudhakar

    Suraj currently works at Acumen Fund leading the development and execution of the East Africa Fellows Program. As a Global Fellow, he worked in Kenya with Ecotact, a Nairobi-based company that aims to improve the urban landscape for low-income communities through environmentally-responsible projects in sanitation and housing. His projects involved developing a marketing plan for expansion of the Eco-toilet model and building a financial consolidation plan. He also started TEDx Kibera, the first TEDx event in a major slum.

  • >

    Josephat Byaruhanga

    Josephat is the Uganda Country Manager for VECO East Arica, which seeks to contribute to viable livelihoods of organized family farmers through improved income and food security. During the Fellowship, he worked in Kenya with Western Seed, which promotes sustainable agriculture practices and produces seed varieties appropriate for traditionally low-income farmers. Originally from Uganda, Josephat has experience managing rural community development programs.

  • >

    Jocelyn Wyatt

    Jocelyn is the Executive Director and Co-Lead of IDEO.org, the nonprofit organization started by IDEO to address poverty-related challenges through design and to encourage the use of our human-centered approach to innovation in the social sector. As a Fellow, she worked in Kenya with Advanced Bio-Extracts (ABE), a leading manufacturer and cultivator of artemisinin, a key ingredient in the most effective treatment against malaria.

  • >

    Wagikuyu Miring'u

    Wangikuyu is the Marketing Coordinator for Kickstart International, which aims to transform Africa from subsistence to commercial agriculture through low-cost capital equipment. Wangikuyu’s role at Kickstart is to promote the “Farming is my Business” campaign, which promotes the aims to lift up the image of the farmer to be a legitimate and proud businessman.

  • >

    Ifran Keshavjee

    Irfan is the Founder & Lead Partner of Karibu Homes, a social enterprise that brings home ownership along with a secure, sanitary, and progressive community to low-income families. Karibu Homes hopes to build 10,000 homes and house 50,000 people per year. Irfan also co-founded Honey Care Africa, a social enterprise that has impacted over 10,000 lives. Irfan is also the Director of the East Africa Film Academy, Co-Founder of Galu Beach Retreat, and Managing Director of White Rose Services.

And by 2015 we project to have 100 Global Fellows and 300 Regional Fellows!
 

CHAPTERS

Chapters are deeply committed volunteer groups around the world learning and spreading Acumen Fund’s principles and approach to help create a world beyond poverty - and raising funds to support our mission.

interested in starting a chapter?
  • <

    SPREADING IDEAS TO
    CHANGE THE WORLD

    No organization can do this alone, which is why we invest in the spread of ideas. Our work supporting companies and leaders forms the foundation of everything we do. When we gain insight in these areas, we invest in sharing them with the world.

    Some foundations are combining philanthropy and capitalism in a very innovative approach, like the Acumen Fund.

    — Secretary of State
    Hillary Clinton

    Remarks on Development in the
    21st Century

    January 6, 2010

    Its novel approach is fostering a proper debate among development experts about the role of market forces and accountability.

    Acumen has helped redefine what development aid should look like.

    The Daily Beast

    One of the most interesting innovators
    in aid and development.

    — Nick Kristof

    The Blue Sweater, A New York Times Best Seller

    An inspiring personal story by CEO Jacqueline Novogratz about the history behind Acumen Fund. Used in curriculum by universities, non-profits, and businesses around the world.

    What Africa needs most today is more 'patient' capital to spur its would-be capitalists.

    — Tom Friedman

    The world looks different, in part, because
    Acumen exists…

    Our goal is to transform how the world sees poor people – not as passive recipients of charity, but as individuals with the potential to take control of their own destinies.

    CHANGING THE WAY
    THE WORLD
    TACKLES POVERTY

    In 2001, Acumen Fund was one of the few organizations in the world using an investment model to fight poverty in the developing world. Today, there are at least 199 organizations in the emerging "impact investing" sector.

    From Blueprint to Scale: The Case for Philanthropy in Impact Investing download pdf
    • <

      When Acumen Fund was launched in 2001, it joined a handful of existing players in the nascent impact investing space including pioneers like E+Co and Technoserve.

    • <

      PULSE helps organizations track and benchmark financial, operational, environmental and social data to better demonstrate impact.

      Impact Reporting & Investment Standards, or IRIS, is a common language for describing the social and environmental performance of an organization.

    • <

      PULSE helps organizations track and benchmark financial, operational, environmental and social data to better demonstrate impact.

      Impact Reporting & Investment Standards, or IRIS, is a common language for describing the social and environmental performance of an organization.

    • <

      The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is a global network of 110+ organizations that work to propel entrepreneurship in the developing world.

      The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to increasing the effectiveness of impact investing.

    • <

      The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is a global network of 110+ organizations that work to propel entrepreneurship in the developing world.

      The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to increasing the effectiveness of impact investing.

    • <

      Impact Investments: An Emerging Asset Class, a collaborative research piece by J.P. Morgan, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the GIIN, explores how impact investments offer a new alternative for channeling large-scale private capital for social benefit.

    • <

      Today, there are at least 199 "impact investing" organizations. We are proud of the role we have played in our first ten years to build partnerships and share knowledge across the sector. As we look to the future, we are committed to building an even more dynamic ecosystem to drive social change around the world.

    • <

      When Acumen Fund was launched in 2001, it joined a handful of existing players in the nascent impact investing space including pioneers like E+Co and Technoserve.

    • <

      PULSE helps organizations track and benchmark financial, operational, environmental and social data to better demonstrate impact.

      Impact Reporting & Investment Standards, or IRIS, is a common language for describing the social and environmental performance of an organization.

    • <

      The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is a global network of 110+ organizations that work to propel entrepreneurship in the developing world.

      The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to increasing the effectiveness of impact investing.

    • <

      Impact Investments: An Emerging Asset Class, a collaborative research piece by J.P. Morgan, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the GIIN, explores how impact investments offer a new alternative for channeling large-scale private capital for social benefit.

    • <

      in the year 2001...When Acumen Fund was launched in 2001, it joined a handful of existing players in the nascent impact investing space including pioneers like E+Co and Technoserve.

    • 2001

    • 2002

    • 2003

    • 2004

    • 2005

    • 2006

    • 2007

    • 2008

    • 2009

    • 2010

    • 2011

    WHAT WE’VE LEARNED

    Nothing about this work is easy. We are proud of our accomplishments over the last 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 truths will guide our work in the next decade and beyond.


    10 things we've
    learned to be true

    • 01.Dignity is more important to the human spirit than wealth.

      "Poverty" is not just about money. What keeps people from realizing their full potential is lack of choice and opportunity. It is this choice - this dignity - that human beings crave. Over the last ten years we have learned that working towards this fundamental idea of dignity is inherently more difficult, complex, and messy than working on solving a…

    • 02.Neither grants nor markets alone will solve the problems of poverty.

      In traditional aid, the lack of real feedback loops to donors and donor agencies silences the voice of the customer. When this happens we lose a crucial instrument in designing solutions that really work for the poor. At the other end of the spectrum, traditional venture capital and private equity put investors' demands first, even when this undermines customers' needs…

    • 03.Poverty is a description of someone’s economic situation; it does not describe who someone is.

      Low-income people face a different set of constraints because of their economic situation, but they make decisions, like everyone, that are based on status and beauty and avoidance of risk, and not just "what’s good for them."

      We know that small-scale farmers are risk averse for very good reasons: every season they must risk everything they own to scratch out a…

    • 04.We won’t succeed in the long term without cultivating local leaders, local money, and strong local communities.

      Institutions and leadership will always outlast the money spent on any particular program. Yet too often, poverty alleviation programs are designed in conference rooms half a world away, with local buy-in bolted on all too late in the process. Worse, too often good programs are cut off after funds are spent, not for lack of success but because decisions are…

    • 05.Great people, every time, no exceptions.

      Great business ideas are just that - ideas. The real work is the drive and passion to execute in challenging environments.

      Hundreds of business plans cross our desks every year, and we've learned that nothing comes close to mattering as much as the entrepreneur and her team. A business plan, an innovative product, money in the bank - these are all…

    • 06.Great technology alone is not the answer.

      We often say, "build it and they won't come."

      Our office is littered with "the next great technology" - water filters, cookstoves, you name it - that have gone nowhere. Occasionally a new product-like the Rotavirus vaccine or the long-lasting anti-malarial bednet-can truly move the needle, especially for large-scale problems that require a single, public intervention. Usually, though, technology isn’t enough.…

    • 07.If failing is not an option, you've ruled out success as well.

      We won't pull tens of millions of people out of poverty with a comprehensive ten-point plan. Plans written by experts can crash and burn when faced with the shifting realities of the marketplace, and even the best interventions must be designed to evolve if they are to go from good to great.

    • 08.Governments rarely invent solutions, but they can scale what works.

      Acumen Fund was created based on the belief that the public sector alone won't solve large-scale problems of poverty. We have always been big believers in the power of markets, and in the early years of Acumen we and our investees steered clear of major government partnerships.

      Yet our thinking has changed as we’ve seen public agencies partner successfully with our…

    • 09.There is no currency like trust, and there are no shortcuts to earning it.

      Low-income communities are often understandably wary of outsiders coming in with "solutions to their problems."  Having been short-changed in the past, they expect to be short-changed again.  Why bother trying something new when the old ways work well enough, when the new ways might cost more than you can afford, when trying something new means taking a risk that could…

    • 10.Patient capital investing is built upon a system of values; it is not a series of steps to be followed.

      We’ve spent a decade building a new approach to fighting poverty, and we’ve learned that our most valuable skill is our ability to balance the values we hold dear: generosity and accountability, listening and leading, humility and audacity - all built on a foundation of integrity and respect. The work we do exists in the spaces in-between, the grey areas…


    COMMENT

    WHERE WE'RE HEADED

    In our first 10 years, we were pioneering a new field and working to reinvent philanthropy. In our next 10 years, our aim is to build a world-class global institution capable of fundamentally transforming how the world fights poverty.

     

    Our vision is that one day every human being will have access to the critical goods and services they need so that they can make choices for themselves and unleash their full human potential. This is where dignity starts - not just for the poor, but for everyone on earth.

     

    We are bringing one day closer.

    OUR VISION FOR 2015

    15

    COUNTRIES

    —  8 today  —

    150m+

    LIVES IMPACTED

    —  86M today  —

    400

    FELLOWS

    —  72 today  —

    2000

    +ACUMEN GRADUATES

    —  40 today  —

    $150m

    INVESTED

    —  $81M today  —

    WE INVITE
    YOU TO HELP US

    CREATE A WORLD
    BEYOND POVERTY

    SPREAD THE WORD
    GIVE A GIFT
    TO FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES

     

     

    We need your support! It will take all of us working together to create a world beyond poverty so please consider a generous donation.

     

    Every dollar we invest typically brings in three dollars of additional funding. And our Board of Directors covers all our administration and fundraising expenses – so you don’t have to!