Founder & CEO, Acumen Fund
Jacqueline Novogratz is the founder and CEO of Acumen Fund, a nonprofit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty. Acumen Fund invests patient capital to identify, strengthen, and scale business models that effectively serve the poor and champions this approach as an effective complement to traditional aid. Acumen Fund currently manages more than $83 million in investments in 75 companies in South Asia and Africa, all focused on delivering affordable healthcare, water, housing, and energy to the poor. These companies have created and supported 58,000 jobs, leveraged an additional $368 million, and brought basic services to more than 100 million people. Read More >
Jacqueline Novogratz’s memoir, The Blue Sweater, tells the inspiring story of a woman who left a career in international banking to tackle global poverty. By sharing her experiences in Africa and around the world, she teaches audiences how traditional charity often fails and how a new form of philanthropic investing called "patient capital" can help make people self-sufficient. Novogratz challenges audiences to grant dignity to the poor and to rethink their engagement with the world.
Jacqueline Novogratz started her career in international banking and has since worked across Asia and Africa finding new ways to use business as a tool to create a world beyond poverty. In 2001 she founded the Acumen Fund, a nonprofit global venture capital fund that invests patient capital—loans or equity instead of grants—in social enterprises that provide critical goods and services to low-income people. Rather than treat the poor as passive recipients of charity, Novogratz sees them as active participants with the dignity to make choices for themselves. Acumen has since grown to invest $73 million in 65 enterprises that have delivered affordable healthcare, safe housing, clean water, sustainable energy, and agricultural inputs to more than 86 million low-income individuals. Novogratz shares with audiences several examples from Acumen Fund’s portfolio of investments and the lessons they have learned about how markets can act as a listening device for the needs of the poor.
What does it mean to be a "patient capitalist"? For Jacqueline Novogratz, it means using an entrepreneurial approach in the fight against global poverty. While traditional development aid can meet immediate needs, Novogratz believes that long-term change requires empowering local communities to solve their own problems. Charitable dollars eventually run out, but market-based approaches can continue to create jobs and economic growth over the long term. As founder and CEO of the Acumen Fund, Novogratz has invested over $62 million in 60 companies that have provided 45 million low-income individuals with critical goods and services in the developing world. Acumen Fund's portfolio companies include everything from an operator of low-cost maternity hospitals to a manufacturer of anti-malarial bed nets. Read More >
Acumen bills itself as a nonprofit global venture fund—but one that seeks to provide the poor with access to the critical goods and services they need so that they can make decisions and choices for themselves and unleash their full human potential. The fund starts with donations from philanthropists. But instead of making charitable grants, it uses that capital to make disciplined, patient investments in companies that offer vital services at affordable prices to low-income customers. It also applies rigorous benchmarks to evaluate the effectiveness of its investments. It's an idea that has turned heads and sparked new debate in traditional development agencies. Acumen's success lies not only in funding life-changing services (such as clean drinking water systems in rural India) but in changing how the world addresses poverty. Jacqueline Novogratz shares with audiences how her own personal experiences inspired her to develop Acumen’s innovative business model. She also shares several examples from Acumen Fund’s portfolio of investments and the lessons they have learned about how markets can act as a listening device for the needs of the poor. Read Less ^
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