The engine of globalization is a remarkable phenomenon. Enormous talent is being unleashed across the developing nations. But in its wake, a spectacular number of people are being left behind. They have little or no access to healthcare, education or public debate on issues affecting their lives. Ever wonder how the future will look if the gap between the world’s rich and poor continues to widen? The vision is grim, if we acknowledge that poverty is a significant cause of social unrest, ill health and armed conflict. Consider this: as of now, a billion people on the planet are unable to read or write. Three billion live on less than $2.50 per day: a number equaling almost half the world. As we look at how billions of dollars in aid often pass into corruption or environmental ruin, the picture looks even more dire. The Acumen Fund, however, has done far more than glance at this growing disparity.
Since 2001, Acumen Fund has integrated the strength of venture capital with the heart of philanthropy. The group invests in local entrepreneurs who know their communities from the inside. They innovate, selling products and services in healthcare, housing, clean water and alternative energy at prices their communities can afford. They view and engage with citizens as their customers, not passive recipients of aid. These communities slowly, gradually, lift themselves into strength and independence, maintaining their dignity. The small businesses begin to network, and spread toward scale.
Acumen Fund calls their investments “patient capital.” Investors expect “…below market returns but with out-sized social impact,” in the words of founder Jacqueline Novogratz. A large number of investors today are choosing “impact investing” to directly relieve social problems. As traditional charity often creates a cycle of dependency and waste, this new model just makes sense. Not for ethical reasons alone, but indeed, for our own security.
See Multimedia Content below to WATCH two dynamic TED TALKS: by Ms. Novogratz, Founder of Acumen Fund, and Sasha Dichter, Director of Development. They discuss their methods, challenges and remarkable successes helping to change the tide of poverty in India, Pakistan and East Africa:
Check out this Action Opportunities link to Acumen Fund’s mission:
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Filed under Culture | Comments: 0 | Posted on Friday, April 22nd, 2011