Acumen

Today on our lovely nonprofit stage is Acumen, a nonprofit that focuses on sustainable financial growth to solve poverty. For the next little period of time, let us explore the Acumen philosophy and impact on the international community.

(taken from Acumen's Home Page)

The Beginning of a Vision

Acumen, as founded in 2001 via help from some of the worlds greatest philanthropic names (Rockefeller Foundation, Cisco Systems Foundation, among others), joined its many fellow nonprofits with the idealistic foundation of treating the betterment of the world as the growth of a global community of global citizens. By focusing not on the distinctions between humans but the collective power and hope we as a group share, Acumen hoped and still hopes to do strong work in whittling away poverty.

The Concept

Acumen's mode of choice to successfully help global poverty is through a venture capital fund, where their partners (a loving term for their donors) aid the process. The best way I could think of explaining this model is through an info graphic created by the Acumen team themselves (taken from their About page and copied below).

Now the mathematics behind this is most definitely more complicated than this graphic. And while I would love to break it down, I don't think doing so would keep this nonprofit spotlight brief.

It is important to note that their model does take into account that entrepreneurial finance cannot solve all the problems of poverty. In fact, Acumen tries to create another bridge between market efficiency and social impact via patient capital, a way to use equity to help nurture healthcare and sustainable lifestyles.

Regions Loved and Cared For

Seeing as Acumen is a global nonprofit, it's global expanse is super important to its vision of sustainable global development. From looking at its website and news articles regarding Acumen, it looks like Acumen as a whole focuses on Southwestern Asia and Central Africa. Prominent areas affected by Acumen include but appear to not be limited to India and Pakistan in Asia and Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ghana in Africa.

How Acumen Measures Success

Acumen appears to have this wonderful way of looking at their track record (from their Social Performance page)

In order to accurately measure their social performance and further improve, Acumen works with a three-prong target. Via focusing on the poor, breadth, and depth, Acumen as a nonprofit plans to create a holistic and grant impact with their investment and humanitarian portfolio. The focus on the poor involves a grounds operation focusing on building small business as well as delivering and carrying through urgent products and services. Breadth implies that Acumen actively tries to not narrow their scope, instead trying to reach all across the globe to as many low-income communities as possible. Depth entails that Acumen is not focused on a bottom line but a quantitative and qualitative growth from its social movement.

How's Acumen Doing?

Acumen had a rough start in its beginnings in part due to its small size and unfortunate failed investments. However, now (as described in the Stanford Social Innovation Review) Acumen is recognized as a SVC pioneer with its chief Novogratz as one of Foreign Policy's Top Global Thinkers. Acumen has found a niche fund of powerful advisors and investors, people who prove to be the celebrities of the philanthropic world. Acumen is happy to call  people/organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IDEO's Tim Brown, and Salvatore Ferragamo its partners.

Acumen is proving to be an organization that is capable of working in many regions. It has become a wonderful organization, especially with its work in health sector investment. In fact, its work with A to Z, Beez, and Insta Products has proven to be invaluable for the global community. Unfortunately, Acumen also finds struggles in profitability and helping alleviate poverty due to the corruption politically in these globally underprivileged areas (as seen in the Dial 1298 case).

(Above taken from Acumen's Home Page)

Acumen's outlook is beautiful and growing. While it found success in health investment, Acumen is willing to move and persevere in commercial financing, social impact and philanthropy. In fact, Acumen is already a heavyweight, but will only continue grow and be a heavyweight in the nonprofit sector for the foreseeable future. After all, it's not every day that Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, hails a nonprofit as "an innovative approach [to] philanthropy and capitalism".