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Acumen Fund

Making transformative social investments.

86 million lives impacted worldwide.

Jacqueline Novogratz, the founder of the New York-based Acumen Fund, defines ‘patient capital’ as an investing approach that aims to maximize social impact, is unwilling to ‘sacrifice the interests of the end customer for the sake of shareholders’, and tolerates greater risk and longer time horizons. Though many words have been written about her non-profit global venture fund since its establishment in 2001, this pithy phrase captures much of what sets it apart from traditional approaches to philanthropy and international development. 

Committed to the idea that social enterprises, emerging leaders and breakthrough ideas hold the key to successfully tackling the challenge of global poverty, the Acumen Fund uses philanthropic capital to make strategic, "transformative" investments – loans or equity, not grants – supporting entrepreneurs focused on offering critical services like water, health, housing, and energy at prices affordable to people earning less than four dollars a day. Any financial returns are then recycled into new investments, with eligible institutions ranging from NGOs seeking to scale their operations, to small and medium for-profit enterprises in need of capital, and larger companies starting specific units to serve the poorest markets. 

Ten years later, Acumen Fund has invested $73 million in 65 companies, impacting an estimated 86 million lives worldwide.

(Photo © Acumen Fund)