Rob Katz

Skoll Foundation, Acumen Fund, and CGAP Announcements

Fresh from the “base of the pyramid” wire services (aka the info [at] nextbillion (dot) net e-mail address) comes word from the Skoll Foundation and Acumen Fund about a big new partnership, and from CGAP about their new technology program:

The Skoll Foundation, dedicated to advancing the work of social entrepreneurs around the world, today announced a $1.5 million, three-year, field-building partnership with Acumen Fund, a nonprofit venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to create and support? sustainable, scalable solutions addressing poverty in the developing world. The grant builds on the productive relationship the two organizations started in 2002, and provides new opportunities to leverage the foundation’s and Acumen’s complementary knowledge, skills, partners and assets. The Skoll Foundation seeks to support Acumen’s work with social entrepreneurs and its efforts to develop metrics that will advance the field’s understanding of the financial and social impact of social enterprise. Acumen focuses on creating lasting solutions in the worldwide fight against poverty by supporting social entrepreneurs working within a market framework. Acumen does not give grants; instead, it provides equity and loans and charges near market interest rates.? To measure its progress, Acumen is creating an innovative metrics system that measures social returns and attempts to quantify the cost of delivering services using an entrepreneurial model rather than a charitable model.? Acumen will report back to the foundation annually on outcomes, challenges and lessons learned.

And from CGAP:

CGAP is launching a major technology program that offers grant funding and technical advice for microfinance institutions, credit unions, banks, mobile operators and other organizations. We are interested in proposals of ideas that promise to help improve a business model, increase efficiency or expand outreach. The Technology Program invites concept notes for projects that test technology-based approaches to delivering financial services, especially in the most challenging markets not yet reached by microfinance. For example, project ideas could include partnerships with companies offering alternative distribution channels such as electronic payment networks, statistical scoring models for credit appraisal, or the deployment by banks of ATMs in low-income areas alongside branches. The deadline for the first round of proposals is January 2, 2007, and will be followed by a second round in February-March 2007.