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Acumen Partners With Ikea Foundation To Bring Power to the World’s Poor

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We are excited to announce our partnership with IKEA Foundation to expand our work in bringing off-grid energy solutions to the world’s poor. Over the last decade, Acumen has invested more than $17 million in 15 companies across East Africa, India and Pakistan to build the largest portfolio of off-grid energy companies serving the poor. Working across every rung of the energy ladder, these social enterprises have provided tens of millions of people with access to energy and helped them to save more than $1.7 billion in energy-related expenses while offsetting more than four million tons of CO2.

But there are still 1.2 billion people around the world without access to energy. A life without energy is a life without opportunity. Businesses are forced to shut their doors at nightfall and lose out on money to support their families. Households spend up to 15 percent of their limited income on kerosene and other expensive fuels that give off fumes responsible for more deaths a year than malaria, tuberculosis and HIV combined. Hospitals without electricity cannot store medicine, power incubators or operate medical equipment. Children are not getting the education they deserve because schools lack proper lighting and electricity for computers.

Increasing access to energy—and the opportunities it creates—can transform the lives of the world’s poor. By investing in renewable energy technologies such as solar lanterns and clean cook stoves, and bringing electricity to poor rural areas, Acumen enterprises will make homes and communities safer, healthier places for children and their families.

With IKEA Foundation’s support, Acumen will launch the next phase of its investment in pioneer-stage companies, developing a strategy to finance off-grid solar enterprises that fill in the missing gaps in the value chain and accelerates energy access across the developing world. In the first half of 2016, Acumen will define its approach to investing over the next three years with the aim to support scaling enterprises and catalyze a more complex and dynamic energy landscape globally. Through this partnership, Acumen will continue to unleash the power of entrepreneurial solutions in ways that leverage our expertise and complement the work of our peers and fellow investors.

“The IKEA Foundation is supporting Acumen because we believe all children should have a safe place to call home and a healthy start in life, and bringing renewable energy to poor communities is one way to achieve this,” said Jonathan Spampinato, Head of Strategic Planning and Communications at IKEA Foundation.

Partnering with IKEA Foundation and other stakeholders committed to bringing power to the poor will allow Acumen to create a platform for engagement where we can collaboratively refine a strategy to find and scale the most cutting-edge solutions in energy. Social enterprises are driving innovation to find faster, more efficient solutions, but need patient capital to bridge the funding gap during the critical validation stage of new business models.

“This is an incredible opportunity to learn from our 10 years of energy investing and move forward with partners, like the IKEA Foundation, to support solutions with potential for scale, financial sustainability, and collaboration across all sectors,” said Sachindra Rudra, Acumen’s Chief Investment Officer. “We plan to engage with experts and thought leaders throughout the process and to capture the impact of and share lessons from each investment we make.”

One of the world’s biggest challenges, providing the poor with energy access will take all of us. Collaboration with corporate partners, public institutions and governments is essential if we are going to provide the poor with new opportunities and the promise of a brighter future.

Learn more about Acumen’s energy work here.