GE Foundation and Acumen joined hands to accelerate the phenomenal work being done by Acumen India CEOs and their companies in tackling challenges of building sustainable enterprises to eliminate poverty.
The two day Summit, organised on 29th and 30th October in Waterstones, Mumbai, set stage for exchange of ideas amidst Acumen India companies, old and new, to learn from each other’s successes and failures.
It also opened dialogue with GE Foundation – an esteemed organisation eager to partner with Acumen in propelling the remarkable work being done our CEOs, as well as multiple other Industry partners keen to become part of the Acumen ecosystem and support our social entrepreneurs backed by Acumen’s philanthropic capital.
Talent and collaboration were identified as the overarching themes for the Summit, both of which are most often identified as bottlenecks to building scalable and sustainable enterprises.
We designed the two day agenda to address different challenges faced by our investees on these fronts.
Day 1 – 28th October – Waterstones, Mumbai
The first day consisted of sessions led by Carlyle Singer – Acumen COO, Anant Bhagwati – a Partner in Bain’s Mumbai office and Ajit Mahadevan – India Country Head.
Carlyle drew on her personal experiences as well as examples from Acumen’s global portfolio to illustrate the relationship between human capital and financial capital, and the importance of balancing the two on the journey to sustainability. She stressed how crucial it is to understand the key drivers of business and get the business model right before scaling. The CEOs also requested Carlyle for advice on managing expectations and relationships with a diverse set of investors.
Anant from Bain led a workshop on building robust operating models that enable repeatability as well as agile governance and decision-making processes.
Ajit’s session brought the CEOs up to speed on how Acumen has evolved since the last Summit held two years ago, highlighting how investees can leverage Acumen’s capabilities using examples from lean data studies, India & Global Fellows and technical assistance projects. It was notable to see him emphasizing the power of learning from and sharing each other’s experiences, and using Acumen as a platform to connect with each other as well as with Acumen’s broader ecosystem.
We wrapped up Day 1 with an informal dinner with the CEOs and the Acumen team so as to give the CEOs plenty of time to get to know and network with each other.
Day 2 – 29th October – Waterstones, Mumbai
Day 2 kicked off with a closed-door adaptive leadership session with the CEOs led by Ashraf Hegazy – Acumen Director of Leadership. His session focused on identifying adaptive leadership traits and showing the CEOs how to leverage them as tools to drive change within their organizations.
The session was followed by a working lunch where the CEOs interacted with sector and functional experts from the GE India team in small groups to exchange sector-specific learnings.
Hema Ravichander, who is a respected leader in the HR space having served as the Senior VP of HR at Infosys for more than a decade, led a small session on best practices for retaining talent. This was followed by an all-star panel discussion where experts shared examples of how social enterprises have successfully partnered with different ecosystem players such as corporate and government.
The Summit culminated in a celebration dinner where we were joined by peer investors as well as members from Acumen’s local community including Partners, Advisors and India Fellows.
It was thrilling to see all of our community come together to recognize the incredible work done by our investees and start conversations around supporting each other!
Lastly, here is a short video of our CEOs talking about how they are slowly and steadily building an audacious new world to tackle the challenges of poverty.