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Acumen Fund

Invest in early-stage companies whose products and services enable the poor to transform their lives.
Acumen Fund
Leadership team

Jacqueline Novogratz (Founder)

Investment type
Venture capital
Type
Non-profit venture fund
Number of Employees
100 - 500
Headquarters
Greater New York Area, East Coast, Northeastern US
Established
2001
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Summary

Acumen is a non-profit venture fund focused on the companies that provide quality education, clean energy, healthcare services, formal housing, safe drinking water, and sanitation services to the underprivileged classes of customers in countries such as Pakistan, India, Africa, Latin America.

Acumen has invested over $87 million in 81 companies and has created over 60,000 jobs in India, Africa, and Pakistan as a result. The organisations’ partners include, inter alia: Rockefeller Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google.org, Skoll Foundation, Nike Foundation, and Cisco.


History

Acumen Fund is a nonprofit venture capital firm that was founded in 2001 by Jacqueline Novogratz, a former banker and entrepreneur. The organization is based in New York City and has offices in India, Pakistan, Kenya, Colombia, and the United Kingdom.

The idea for Acumen Fund was born out of Novogratz's experience working in Africa, where she saw the challenges faced by people living in poverty and the potential for social entrepreneurship to create positive change. She founded Acumen Fund with the goal of using the principles of venture capital to invest in social enterprises that were working to solve some of the world's toughest problems.

In its early years, Acumen Fund focused on providing patient capital, or long-term investment, to entrepreneurs working in sectors such as health care, water and sanitation, and energy. The organization's investments were designed to support businesses that were delivering social impact while also generating sustainable financial returns.

Over the years, Acumen Fund has expanded its focus to include leadership development and impact investing. The organization has launched several programs aimed at developing the next generation of social entrepreneurs and building a global community of changemakers. Acumen Fund has also become a leader in the impact investing field, helping to define and shape the industry through its investments, research, and advocacy.

Today, Acumen Fund has invested more than $140 million in over 130 social enterprises around the world. The organization's investments have helped to create jobs, increase access to essential services, and improve the lives of millions of people living in poverty. Acumen Fund's innovative approach to social investing has inspired a new generation of investors and entrepreneurs who are committed to creating positive social and environmental impact through business.


Investment criteria

The organization's investment criteria are designed to identify businesses that have the potential to create significant social impact while also generating sustainable financial returns.

Acumen Fund's investment criteria include the following:

  • Social impact: The organization looks for companies that have a clear mission to create social impact, and that can demonstrate measurable results in achieving that mission. The social impact of the business should be core to its mission and operations.
  • Scalability: Acumen Fund seeks to invest in companies that have the potential to grow and scale their impact. This means that the business model should be replicable and scalable to reach a large number of people.
  • Financial sustainability: The organization looks for businesses that have a clear path to financial sustainability. This means that the company should have a viable business model that generates revenue and can eventually become self-sustaining.
  • Management team: Acumen Fund invests in companies that have strong and experienced management teams. The team should have a track record of success and a deep understanding of the industry and market in which the business operates.
  • Innovation: The organization looks for companies that are developing innovative solutions to social problems. The business should have a unique approach or technology that sets it apart from competitors and has the potential to disrupt the market.

Values
  • Dignity: Acumen Fund believes that all human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their socioeconomic status. The organization works to empower people living in poverty and to give them the tools and resources they need to improve their lives.
  • Accountability: The organization believes in holding itself and its partners accountable for delivering results. This means being transparent about its investments, measuring and reporting on its social impact, and continually learning and improving its approach.
  • Empathy: Acumen Fund believes in the power of empathy to drive social change. The organization seeks to understand the needs and perspectives of the people it serves and to develop solutions that are informed by their experiences.
  • Courage: The organization believes in taking bold and innovative approaches to solve social problems. This means taking risks, challenging conventional wisdom, and advocating for change even in the face of adversity.
  • Perseverance: Acumen Fund believes that creating lasting social change requires patience, persistence, and a long-term perspective. The organization is committed to working alongside its partners for as long as it takes to achieve meaningful results.

Mission

Acumen believes that “neither the markets nor aid alone can solve the problems of poverty”. It is an unfortunate product of our current system that more than two billion people around the world lack access to basic goods and services, like clean water, electricity, education, equality. Acumen is there to change that. Their vision is a world based on dignity, where every human being has the same opportunity. Rather than giving philanthropy away, Acumen invests it in companies and change-makers.


Portfolio

Acumen Fund's portfolio consists of a diverse range of social enterprises that are working to create meaningful social impact in a variety of sectors and regions around the world. Here are a few examples of the types of companies that Acumen Fund has invested in:

Ziqitza Healthcare Limited: This Indian company provides emergency medical services to people in need, particularly in underserved areas. Acumen Fund has invested in the company to help it expand its reach and improve the quality of its services.

d.light: This global company produces affordable solar-powered lighting and energy products for people living without reliable access to electricity. Acumen Fund has invested in d.light to help it scale its operations and reach more people in need.

Sanergy: This Kenyan company builds and operates low-cost sanitation facilities in urban slums, improving access to safe and hygienic sanitation for thousands of people. Acumen Fund has invested in Sanergy to help it expand its operations and reach more communities.

KOMAZA: This Kenyan company works with smallholder farmers to grow and sustainably harvest trees, providing them with a reliable source of income and helping to combat deforestation. Acumen Fund has invested in KOMAZA to help it scale its operations and improve the livelihoods of more farmers.


References
Acumen Fund
Leadership team

Jacqueline Novogratz (Founder)

Investment type
Venture capital
Type
Non-profit venture fund
Number of Employees
100 - 500
Headquarters
Greater New York Area, East Coast, Northeastern US
Established
2001
Social Media