Acumen Fund Uses Patient Capital to Fight Poverty


NEW YORK — Acumen Fund is an innovative investment company that has had significant successes in countries like Kenya and India.

Acumen’s success in combating global poverty with technological innovation has rested on the integration of two traditionally opposing ideologies. One rests solely on business and investments with immediate returns. The other is purely charitable and rests entirely on fundraising and donations to give to communities in need.

Acumen Fund has taken pure charity and business and woven them together to work for the people they are meant to benefit through ‘patient capital’.

Patient capital is funding from investors who are not reliant on immediate investment returns. It is the foundation of Acumen Fund that provides small business owners with the capital needed to succeed without the pressures of high-risk venture capital.

Over the last decade, Acumen has invested more than $20 million of patient capital to create the largest off-grid energy portfolio of companies across Africa, India and Pakistan. Solar technology and other independent and sustainable technologies have existed for decades but have remained too expensive to implement in impoverished communities.

Smallholder farmers in Pakistan have been dependent on flood irrigation and have previously been unable to farm in the dry season. Irrigation technologies have been developed yet were not suitable for smaller plots of land nor were they practical or affordable for these farmers. Partnering with Thardeep Rural Development Programme and Unilever Pakistan, Acumen created Micro Drip, an irrigation system designed to use 50 percent less water. Implementing this technology improved yields by more than 40 percent.

The most powerful catalyst for change that Acumen has implemented is its policy of sharing ideas. It promotes an environment of open source project planning. The company blog is filled with articles outlining obstacles to the implementation of technologies as well as success stories of others. Acumen invites entrepreneurs and social activists to use its ideas to invest in the future of poverty eradication.

Rebekah Korn

Photo: Flickr


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