Using entrepreneurial strategies, the international non-profit Acumen Fund aims to fight global poverty. While Acumen’s concerns are traditional as far as international development goes, including water, housing, health and energy, the way that it goes about it is not the norm.
Traditional charities often focus on short-term needs and aid, for instance in times of natural disasters, famines and/or war. This sort of immediate relief creates a dependence and doesn’t allow local communities to play an active role in solving the problem of poverty in the long-term sense. On the other side of the spectrum is a market-based strategy to alleviating poverty, but this has its faults too. Low-income areas are either unattractive to businesses, or completely invisible. So, how does Acumen Fund do it “Dignity, not dependence. Choice, not charity. We combine business an philanthropy to break the cycle of poverty,” says Acumen Fund on their website.
Therefore, Acumen Fund takes a bit of both the charity vein and the marketplace vein in order to reinvent the way we look at development. By supporting entrepreneurs that offer crucial services like water, agricultural inputs, health, energy and housing, the Acumen Fund ensures that those who need these services the most can get them at affordable prices.
Acumen Fund’s approach is something called “Patient Capital,” which the non-profit describes as “a third way that seeks to bridge the gap between efficiency and scale of market-based approaches and the social impact of pure philanthropy.” It’s now clear that the market has failed to provide for certain areas of the world. The emergence of this third space allows business models to bring necessary but affordable products and services. Acumen Fund’s “patient capital” investments aren’t focused on high returns, but giving the ability of enterprises to improve the lives of the poor worldwide.
A business doesn’t have to solely focus on financial return. What social business shows us is that social returns are increasingly possible—and increasingly necessary—in order to bring about social change on a global level. Acumen Fund invests in businesses to serve low-income people all around the world.
Acumen Fund Website
76 Ninth Avenue, Suite 315
New York, NY 10011 USA
Telephone: +1 (212) 566-8821
Fax: +1 (212) 566-8817