March 2006 - Present:
Acumen Fund invested $1 million for an equity stake of Drishtee Dot Com, a rural network orchestrator with (at the time) 700+ kiosks currently operating in six states in India. Drishtee helps local entrepreneurs to set up rural kiosks that offer a variety of services, including health care, rural e-commerce and education services, to villagers. Since our investment, Drishtee has expanded the number of kiosks to over 1300 - each owned and operated by a village entrepreneur - with 4 new kiosks opening every day. In addition to providing access to goods and services not previously available in the villages, our investment in Drishtee helps us to participate in the growth of a delivery mechanism through which other services can be delivered to rural markets.
Acumen Fund's commitment to raise $1 million to address some of the problems of poverty was fulfilled, thanks to the dedication of partners like Cisco and the Sapling Foundation. That commitment has helped Acumen Fund invest in new enterprises that use market-oriented approaches to deliver critical goods and services to the poor; to provide needed on-the-ground support to those enterprises; and to create systems to better assess the financial and social impact of our investments.
Acumen Fund invested $1.6 million for a 25% equity stake of Drishtee Dot Com, a rural network organizer with 700+ kiosks currently operating in six states in India. Drishtee helps local entrepreneurs to set up rural kiosks that offer a variety of services, including health care, rural e-commerce and education services, to villagers.
New offices have been opened in India and Pakistan to expand the Acumen Fund's local presence and relationships. These local offices will enable enhanced support capabilities for their investee enterprises, as well as provide opportunities for on-the-ground assessment of financial and social impact. The initial evaluation activities are planned around the launching of an innovative financing mechanism to support community-based water treatment enterprises in India. The Acumen Fund also strengthened its thought leadership and communications efforts through the launch of the Acumen Fund Blog.
More than 600 candidates from 52 countries applied for the Acumen Fund Fellows Program which supports our efforts to build an 'entrepreneurial bench' of top talent with the skills, will and imagination to solve the problems of poverty. A final cohort of 10 Fellows to begin in September 2006.
January 2005 - Present:
The launch of the Acumen Fund Fellows Program in 2006 supports our efforts to build an 'entrepreneurial bench' of top talent with the skills, will and imagination to solve the problems of poverty. The call for Fellows went out at the beginning of 2006 - more than 600 candidates from 52 countries applied, and from those, a final cohort of seven Fellows was selected. The fellowship began in September with 8 weeks of training at the Acumen Fund offices in New York, where the Fellows were exposed to a rigorous curriculum in business skills (like financing and distribution), as well as leadership and understanding the poor. In November, the Fellows were sent to their placements with Acumen Fund investee organizations in Kenya, Tanzania, India and Pakistan, where they are supporting those organizations on specific business needs.
With matching grants from Cisco Systems, Inc. and the Sapling Foundation, the Acumen Fund successfully raised $1 million at the Clinton Global Initiative inaugural meeting to support its mission of fighting the problems of global poverty using entrepreneurial solutions.
September 2005 - Present:
Acumen Fund has always had a focus on accountability and metrics, but over the last few years has actively pushed to develop systems that allow us to understand the performance of our investments so that we can (1) better support our investments and (2) communicate impact in a consistent, supportable way. Our participation with CGI and particularly our partnership with Cisco has helped propel that work forward, allowing us to better catalog and share the insights we are learning about our work.