Acumen (organization)

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Non-profit organization
Founded April 2001
Founder Jacqueline Novogratz

Acumen (formerly known as Acumen Fund[1]) is a non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of poverty.[2] Its aim is to help build financially sustainable organizations that deliver affordable goods and services that improve the lives of the poor. Acumen is a 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in New York City, with regional offices in India, Pakistan, Kenya, Colombia, San Francisco, and Ghana.[3]


Acumen was incorporated on April 1, 2001, with seed capital from the Rockefeller Foundation, Cisco Systems Foundation and three individual philanthropists. Acumen’s investors and advisors include also the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Skoll Foundation.[4] Jacqueline Novogratz is the founder and CEO of Acumen.[5] In 2016, Jacqueline received the Forbes Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in social entrepreneurship.

In 2015, Acumen was named one of Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative Not-for-Profit Companies. Learn more at and on Twitter @Acumen.


Acumen uses patient capital to build businesses. It makes investments – loans or equity, not grants – that yield both financial and social returns. As of July 10, 2014, Acumen has invested more than $110 million in 102 companies in Africa, Pakistan, India, Latin America, and the United States.[6]Acumen is also developing a global community of emerging leaders with the knowledge, skills and determination to create a more inclusive world. Investments are focused on the following sectors: Health, Energy, Agriculture, Financial Inclusion, and Education. Acumen commitments range from $300,000 to $2,000,000 in equity or debt with a payback or exit in roughly seven to ten years.[7][8]

Fellows Programs[edit]

Acumen's Regional Fellows Programs are developing leaders who challenge the status quo, work across lines of difference, and inspire their communities to believe in a brighter future. Acumen currently runs Regional Fellows Programs in East Africa, Pakistan and India. This is a one-year fellowship program targeted at local leaders and entrepreneurs who manage an existing social change project in their region.[9] Amal Academy an organizational development academy is funded by Acumen.


+Acumen is the world’s school for social change, where anyone, anywhere can gain the skills and community to amplify their social impact. +Acumen was created to give people a meaningful way to “add Acumen” to their lives.

Participating in +Acumen, either through online courses or the growing network of volunteer chapters, gives emerging leaders an opportunity to dig deeper into Acumen’s work, learn more about their model for tackling poverty, and make connections with other leaders who share the same drive for creating social change. By helping to develop thousands of +Acumen leaders, Acumen hopes to change the way the world is tackling poverty, and ultimately change the future of business and humanity through the collective actions of this extraordinary community.

The free, online courses seek to inspire emerging leaders and equip them with the skills needed to solve the world’s most challenging problems. The courses touch on a variety of topics from exploring personal motivations for driving change, to human-centered design, and storytelling to connect with audiences and inspire them to take action. Past courses have included "Acumen Leadership Essentials", "Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation" (with course partner IDEO) and "Adaptive Leadership: Mobilizing for Change" (with course partner Cambridge Leadership Associates). In 2016, +Acumen launched their low-cost, on-demand "Master Classes" featuring experts in their field aimed at all levels of social change-makers.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A Manifesto. Acumen. Retrieved on 2013-09-21.
  2. ^ "A Most Meaningful Gift Idea". New York Times. December 23, 2009. 
  3. ^ Fund Expands into West Africa. Acumen. Retrieved on 2013-09-21.
  4. ^ Partners in venture philanthropy | Acumen Archived July 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved on 2013-09-21.
  5. ^ Jacqueline Novogratz: Invest in Africa's own solutions | Video on. Retrieved on 2013-09-21.
  6. ^ Acumen Investments Have Impacted Over 100 Million Lives Archived July 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved on 2013-09-21.
  7. ^ Investments Archived July 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "Making a difference with patient capital in energy, healthcare". Mint (newspaper), Wall Street Journal. Nov 3, 2009. 
  9. ^ Acumen Regional Fellows Tackle the Most Pressing Social Issues. Retrieved on 2013-09-21.

External links[edit]