Acumen (formerly known as Acumen Fund) is a non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of poverty. Its aim is to help build financially sustainable organizations that deliver affordable goods and services that improve the lives of the poor. Acumen is a 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in New York, with regional offices in India, Pakistan, Kenya and Ghana.
Acumen uses patient capital to build businesses. It makes investments – loans or equity, not grants – that yield both financial and social returns. As of July 10, 2014, Acumen had approved $88 million in investments in the following countries: Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia. It has invested in 82 enterprises since inception, helping over 100 million people and creating 60,000 jobs. Investments are separated into six portfolios: Water, Health, Housing, Energy, Agriculture, and Education. Acumen commitments range from $300,000 to $2,000,000 in equity or debt with a payback or exit in roughly seven to ten years.
The Acumen Global Fellows Program selects young professionals each year to work with Acumen portfolio organizations in the countries where it invests. The Fellows spend one year, starting in September, working with the Acumen team and local social enterprises.
Starting in 2011, Acumen launched Regional Fellows Programs in East Africa, Pakistan and India. This is a one-year fellowship program targeted at local leaders and entrepreneurs who manage an existing social change project in their region.