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About Acumen



Neither the markets nor aid alone can solve the problems of poverty. More than two billion people around the world lack access to basic goods and services—from clean water and electricity to an education and the freedom to participate in the economy. We’re here to change that. Our vision is a world based on dignity, where every human being has the same opportunity. Rather than giving philanthropy away, we invest it in companies and change makers.

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Our Story

Acumen was incorporated on April 1, 2001, with seed capital from the Rockefeller Foundation, Cisco Systems Foundation and three individual philanthropists. Our desire was to transform the world of philanthropy by looking at all human beings as members of a single, global community where everyone had the opportunity to build a life of dignity. The organization would invest “Patient Capital,” capital that bridges the gap between the efficiency and scale of market-based approaches and the social impact of pure philanthropy, in entrepreneurs bringing sustainable solutions to big problems of poverty.

Our Founder

Acumen CEO and Founder, Jacqueline Novogratz’s work began in 1986 when she quit her job on Wall Street to help open Rwanda’s first microfinance institution, Duterimbere—an experience that inspired her to write the bestseller, The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor, and create Acumen. Indeed, when she founded Acumen in 2001, few had heard of the words impact investing.

Our Partners

When we first began, our vision was to create a venture capital fund for the poor, supported by a global community of philanthropists willing to take a bet on a new approach. We would call our donors “Partners” and treat them like investors because our approach would be to invest together in long-term change. Our Partners come from over 20 countries and include individuals and institutions who believe there’s a better way and are working together to challenge the status quo.


We invest in breakthrough companies

We invest in early-stage companies whose products and services enable the poor to transform their lives. We also support our companies with the tools, networks, technical assistance and strategic guidance needed to succeed and scale into long-term solutions to poverty.

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We develop leaders disrupting poverty

We build leaders with the skills, determination and moral imagination to challenge the status quo. Our Fellows Program develops extraordinary individuals with the knowledge, support system and practical wisdom to unlock their full potential to drive social change.

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We create platforms that drive change

We launched +Acumen to offer world-class online courses so that anyone, anywhere can think differently, learn collaboratively and join a global community of learners and doers with a burning desire to change the world.

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