Acumen started operations in 2001 with a pioneering concept, a non-profit venture capital for the poor, using philanthropic (patient) capital to invest in entrepreneurs that would be capable to create sustainable solutions to big problems in poverty. For the past 15 years, they have been helping to build companies, developing leaders and sharing ideas. Their impact to date: $103m invested in 96 companies, 200 million lives impacted, 310 leaders developed, 17 Acumen Chapters, and 320,000 people have signed up to the Acumen leadership courses. Impressive figures! However, why Acumen continues to be one of the leaders/innovators in this field is because they can’t be content on just seeing these figures. They go deeper in trying to understand the real impact (qualitatively) by developing impact measurement/metrics.
Our Impact Framework: We work to understand impact from the moment we begin due diligence on a company throughout the lifetime of the investment. Working closely with our companies, we generate, analyze and use data that enables them to understand and improve their social performance. Our aim is to unlock their full potential and achieve the greatest social change for the customers they serve. (source Acumen)
As Acumen defines its success as how well their investments are enabling the poor to improve their own lives for the long term, they measure the social performance across 3 dimensions: 1) the focus on the poor 2) the breadth (the number reached) 3) depth (improvements). So they look at impact from all these fronts. They use lean data which has made it much more efficient, faster and cost efficient to understand their impact. Another great contribution of Acumen is how they share their ideas and findings. +Acumen which comprises online free leadership courses and is rapidly becoming “the world’s school of social change”.
Acumen’s Dr. Ambika Sampat spoke about Acumen’s journey on Nov 16 “Zurich Social Investment Breakfast Club” facilitated by Rianta Capital and hosted by RobecoSAM. Thank you all and congratulations to the amazing team of Acumen!
Additional info and suggestions
Jacqueline Novogratz Ted Talks She has delivered 5 TED talks.
Writeup on Jacueline Novogratz’s book ” The Blue Sweater”
The European B Corp Summit, a celebration for People Using Business as a Force for Good, took place in Rome on June30 & July1. Two energetic days of learning, sharing, networking amongst the rapidly expanding global B Corp community (currently 1809 companies in 50 countries). The focus was on brainstorming and action planning on how can we continue to accelerate this movement. Powerful messages through numerous inspiring speakers including: Pedro Tarak of Sistema B, Lorna Davis of Danone, Thomas Van Craen of Triodos Bank, Bryan Welch of B the Change Media, Mirella Zuidgeest of thermaflex, Corey Lien of DOMI, Pablo Sepulveda & Eloisa Silva of Birus, and Christoph Barman of Loyco. Thanks to the B Lab Europe team and Nativa for organizing such an impactful event!
We would like to introduce you to Karmafy
Karmafy represents a global social currency for doing good. The platform offers businesses, apps, and cause organizations the opportunity to attract new users and strengthen their existing user base by allowing users to track and make use of their socially responsible actions. We partner with businesses through a commonly used rev-share model and deliver more engaged users. Increased monetization occurs through cross promotion, use of gamification and functionality to make directed donations to vetted philanthropic organizations. More to come soon.
Swiss Financial Finance (SSF) is a new platform that aims to promote Switzerland as the leading centre for sustainable finance. This platform brings together financial service providers, investors, research organizations, public sector entities, and universities to foster social and environmental aspects in investment and financial solutions. SSF was launched at the beginning of July 2014. See the press release.
Crowdfunding platforms are continuing to be launched and according to industry sources there are more than 500 platforms. Of the 4 types of crowdfunding sites (donation-based, reward-based, loan based and equity based) this year we are likely to see a surge of equity based crowdfunding sites (in particular in the USA) that would allow for investment in startups. This is due to the passage of the JOBS Act last year that includes the Crowdfund Act. A recent article titled Crowdfunding Clean Energy by David Bornstein gives an excellent insight on the recent trends in this area. In addition to Solar Mosaic described in this article there are several new green crowdfunding sites that look appealing. Impact Crowd, Abundance Generation, OnGreen
We (Socential Ltd.) are happy to announce the launch of sosense.org. Our new platform sosense.org is dedicated to support high impact social enterprises operating both on a global scale, mainly in developing countries, as well as those operating in Switzerland. We strive to make it simple for social investors and donors to search, select and support these enterprises. Our aim is to facilitate collective impact.
We feature outstanding social enterprises that are working efficiently and effectively in solving some of the major social and environmental issues that we face today. Take a look at VisionSpring, Tostan, International Bridges to Justice, Riders for Health, Gram Vikas, Landesa to name a few. You can see the short video on their pages to get an overview of these inspiring organizations.
We realized during our pilot phase that supporting the social enterprises makes much more sense and creates a larger and long lasting impact than trying to dedicate to funding independent projects. www.sosense.org is a brand and it is owned and managed by Socential Ltd.
We still have a lot to improve on a number of fronts. It is work in progress which shall improve and we look forward to your collaboration and feedback!
SOCAP 2010 took place in San Francisco on Oct 4-6. Over 1200 participants. Energetic, lively, sharing, innovative. Impact investments took center stage.Watch these amazing videos of Jacqueline Novogratz (Acumen Fund) Matt Flannery (Kiva) and many more http://video.socialcapitalmarkets.net/live-video-stream/ The first SOCAP Europe will take place in Amsterdam May 31-June 2, 2011.
Kiva.org, the world’s first microlending website announced today its entry into the education field by offering a pilot for student microloans in 3 countries. So beginning today anyone can make a loan starting at USD 25 to students that are selected by Kiva’s first 3 education field partners; Fundacion Paraguaya (Paraguay) IMPRO (Bolivia) and Ameen s.a.l. (Lebanon). Kiva.org an innovative social enterprise created a movement to connect people around the world through lending to alleviate poverty. In only 5 years, Kiva.org has provided over USD 160 mn in loans to 415,000 microentrepreneurs around the world and these loans (which are as little as USD 25) have come from close to half a million lenders spread in 206 countries!
“The pilot was born as a natural extension of Kiva’s mission to connect people, through lending, to alleviate poverty. Kiva Student Microloans give recipients the opportunity to gain new knowledge and skills through higher education or vocational training. As a result, these individuals will be better positioned to find jobs, support their families and grow their communities — and ultimately make a real difference in the relief of global poverty.” (source: Kivablog)
Earlier this month, IDEO, the leading global design consultancy launched OpenIDEO, a collaborative platform to design and create solutions to the world’s toughest challenges. This platform is cool. It starts with a big question (the challenge that needs a creative solution) and uses the design process; brainstorming, conceptualizing and evaluating to create with the online community innovative solutions. A very interesting point is that anyone that collaborates can get recognized accordingly to one’s contribution. OpenIDEO kicked off with Jamie Oliver’s challenge “How can we raise kid’s awareness on the benefits of fresh food so they can make better choices?” so tackling obesity. The second challenge is “How to increase the availability of affordable learning tools and services for students in the developing world?” by Enterterprising Schools, a project of Grey Matters Capital. It reminded me a lot of Ashoka’s Changemakers in that it crowdsources ideas/proposals and let the online community collaborate to create solutions. OpenIDEO is making it easier for everyone to become a changemaker!
Introduction to OpenIDEO / OpenIDEO.com from IDEO on Vimeo.