Acumen Fund Honored with Social Capitalist Award by Fast Company & Monitor Group

Monday, December 3, 2007

Acumen Fund, a leading catalyst for sustainable, scalable solutions addressing poverty in South Asia and East Africa, announced today that it has been honored with the 2008 Fast Company/Monitor Group Social Capitalist Award. The award recognizes outstanding organizations whose social impact and organizational effectiveness make them unrivaled leaders of social entrepreneurship.

“Acumen Fund is proud to be honored by Fast Company and the Monitor Group as a leader in providing market-oriented approaches to overcoming the challenges associated with global poverty,” said Acumen Fund CEO Jacqueline Novogratz. “Acumen Fund is committed to identifying and supporting local entrepreneurs who bring affordable water, healthcare, housing, and energy to the world’s poor, and we are excited about the prospects for change as we continue to expand our operations and impact around the globe.”

Acumen Fund’s investments — in health, water, housing and clean energy — are extending the benefits of the global economy to many of the world’s poorest communities. Working with pioneering entrepreneurs around the globe, Acumen’s efforts have already impacted the lives of more than 13 million people.

Among the investments in Acumen’s health portfolio that are changing health care delivery are Drishtee and the Health Store Foundation. Drishtee is a rural Information and Communications Technology (ICT) platform in India that is using financing from Acumen Fund to expand the offerings of Drishtee kiosks and scale from just over 700 kiosks in six states to over 10,000 kiosks, primarily in rural villages. Drishtee kiosks now offer a variety of health-related services, such as health information, medical check-ups and vision care, which have impacted the lives of more than 1.5 million people in rural villages throughout India. In Africa, the Health Store Foundation (SHEF), an international NGO, is rapidly expanding its micro-franchise network of pharmacies and health clinics in Kenya that provide essential drugs and basic health services to communities that previously had scant access to health services.

Another example of a high-impact investment by Acumen that is opening up new markets is the water portfolio’s investment in Water Health International (WHI). WHI helps provide safe drinking water to more than 250,000 Indian villagers and supports the creation of a sustainable business model to provide affordable drinking water to rural areas across the globe.

Acumen Fund’s focus also extends to building the knowledge and talent necessary to accelerate the creation of viable markets for the poor that provide low-income customers around the world with affordable products and services that can improve their lives. One of Acumen Fund’s central objectives is to prove by example that market-based approaches can play a significant role in unleashing the economic and social potential of people living in poverty. To this end, Acumen Fund has begun to build a robust, open-source library of data, publications and research, as well as standardized tools and metrics for the social entrepreneurship sector. As part of this effort, Acumen Fund recently unveiled a new website to make it a more effective tool for sharing relevant information:

“Market-based approaches that support sustainable businesses with the potential to grow when charitable dollars run out can empower people living in poverty to solve their own problems over the long term,” said Novogratz. “Our goal is to transform how the world sees poor people — not as passive recipients of charity, but as individuals with the potential to take control of their own destinies.”

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