ACUMEN MAKES INVESTMENTS THAT GENERATE BOTH SOCIAL AND FINANCIAL RETURNS

INVESTMENT MODEL

We raise charitable donations that allow us to make patient long-term debt or equity investments in early-stage companies providing reliable and affordable access to agricultural inputs and markets, quality education, clean energy, healthcare services, formal housing, and safe drinking water to low-income customers.

Patient Capital

The markets alone cannot solve the problems of poverty; nor are charity and aid enough to tackle the challenges faced by over two-thirds of the world’s population living in poverty. Patient capital is a third way that seeks to bridge the gap between the efficiency and scale of market-based approaches and the social impact of pure philanthropy.

For Acumen, patient capital is understood as a debt or equity investment in an early-stage enterprise providing low-income consumers with access to healthcare, water, housing, alternative energy, or agricultural inputs. Our typical commitments of patient capital for an enterprise range from $250,000 to $3,000,000 in equity or debt with payback or exit in roughly seven to ten years.

The patient capital Acumen provides is accompanied by a wide range of management support services nurturing the company to scale. Our aim in investing patient capital is not to seek high returns, but rather to jump-start the creation of enterprises that improve the ability of the poor to live with dignity.

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Investment Criteria

We invest in game-changing companies that are transforming the way the world tackles poverty. To us, that means identifying enterprises that meet the following criteria:

  • Geography: Be located in or have significant operations or impact in East Africa, West Africa, India, Pakistan, or Latin America (launching soon).
  • Sectors: Operate in one of our investment sectors of Agriculture, Education, Energy, Health, Housing, or Water.
  • Stage: Be an early-mid stage company that is in the process of scaling. We rarely invest in pure start-up companies. Check out the FAQ section on the “Apply for Investment” page to learn more about the stages we invest.
  • Investment Size: Be seeking investment capital in the range of $0.25M-$3M, structured as either debt or equity.
  • Strong Management Team: Have a strong and experienced management team with the skills, will, and vision to execute the business plan, an unwavering commitment to serve the poor, and unyielding ethics.

  • Potential for Significant Social Impact: Make a product or deliver a service that addresses a critical need for the poor in our sectors and geographic focus.  These products or services must be economically better or create greater social impact than what is available currently through the market, aid, or charitable distribution.
  • Potential for Financial Sustainability: Have a clear business model that demonstrates the potential for financial sustainability within a five to seven year period; including the ability to cover operating expenses with operating revenues.
  • Potential to Achieve Scale: Be able to demonstrate a clear path to scale for the number of end users over the period of our investment, and be positioned as one of the leading service providers in the market.

CHANGING THE WAY THE WORLD TACKLES POVERTY

Our mission is to change the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders, and ideas.

We started Acumen to change the way the world tackles poverty; to influence traditional charity by moving from a top-down approach toward one that’s bottom-up: approaching low-income people as part of the solution, seeing investment as an important tool for change, and insisting on stronger metrics of accountability.

Today, there is a vibrant and growing “impact investing” sector with hundreds of funds and billions of dollars being invested in companies tackling some of the biggest social issues of our time. Along the way, we also discovered that without the right talent, these companies fail. The types of companies we invest in need a different kind of leadership, equipped with the moral imagination and resilience to meet the complex challenges of our time. That’s why Acumen also invests in building a global ecosystem of leaders who share common values, have the hard skills to produce results, and possess a deep unwavering commitment to creating a more inclusive world. Finally, we believe that no organization can do this alone, which is why we invest in the spread of ideas.

Our work supporting companies and leaders forms the foundation of everything we do. When we gain insight in these areas, we invest in sharing them with the world. To learn more about the type of companies and leaders we believe are needed to change the way the world tackles poverty, read our manifesto.

Khayali Chowk (City Branch). Kashf Client Study, Punjab, Pakistan. February 2007.